Kamptal Region, Austria
If the truth be told I have had my eye on the Brundlmayer wines for about as long as I’ve been importing wine and to be frank I was amazed that no one beat us to it when it came to asking Willi Brundlmayer the question. Very satisfying then to find that they had in fact a number of approaches from Australia over the years but it never felt quite right until now (aw, shucks I hear you say!). At any rate, the thing about this estate is that outside of the Wachau, this is probably the No 1 domaine in all of Austria. If you are to believe Andreas Larsson, the World Champion sommelier for 2007 – Brundlmayer is in fact THE top Austrian producer of them all. However you look at, it this is another one of the world’s top white wine growers. The Kamptal is not really that far away from the Wachau or Kremstal but it does throw up a whole different terroir/wine style mix. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are still kings; but there are no Federspiel/Smaragd categories, as it’s a different GI. Weingut Bründlmayer is situated in Langenlois, some 70 km north-west of Vienna, upstream along the Danube in the Lower Austrian Kamp Valley. The wooded hills of the Waldviertel protect the vineyards from the cold north-westerly winds. During the day, the sun warms the stony terraces, while at night the fresh, fragrant forest air drifts through the Kamp Valley into the Langenloiser Arena. These wines are dry, mineral, powerful and well balanced. And not so expensive, at least compared to their Wachau neighbours…
Wine Maker: Heinz Frischengruber
Three years ago a fresh breeze blew into the 300 year old baroque wine cellar of Domäne Wachau.
In the capable hands of the dynamic and,young team headed by general manager Roman Horvath and oenologist Heinz Frischengruber, Domäne Wachau has now established itself in the ranks ofAustria’s leading wineries. Combining fresh ideas, youthful personality and international experience, the team brings a new energy to the historic winery and makes the future look brighter than ever.Roman Horvath and Heinz Frischengruber are convinced that great wine is not made in the cellar but out in the vineyards. Improving the quality of the grapes is the main focus for continued improvement of the wines. To achieve this goal, the cooperative initiated a grading system for their member’s vineyards. Throughout the vegetation period the vineyards are observed and graded according to high standards set by the Domäne Wachau, and a bonus system which inspires the individual members. With patience and respect towards the members, the new team has achieved what many cooperative wineries aim for: the dedication and commitment of the members who, voluntarily, make every effort to supply their winery with the best possible grape material.
Winemaker: Emmerich Knoll
Unterloiben, Wachau. Austria
Knoll, pronounced with a K, is where tradition meets progression head on. Expression of site is paramount, old oak fudres are used exclusively, and the style is that of a winemaking philosophy that places varietal site expression at the forefront. Emmerich Knoll Senior is a thoughtful, quiet man; the opposite of Emmerich junior, cosmopolitan and modern in his approach. The Knolls have holdings in all the best sites; and exemplified by their success in the now infamous UK tasting where an aged Knoll Gruner beat a field of Grand Cru white Burgundies. Emmerich Knoll’s winery in Unterloiben is one of Austria’s most famous wine-growing estates. The Knoll estate is located in the village of Unterloiben in the wine-growing region Wachau. It has been run by the family for decades and today Emmerich II and Monika Knoll and their sons Emmerich III, who travelled far to acquire knowledge on his passion and august, who just finishend studies in agriculture are in charge of the 15 hectares of land where the famous grapes grow.
Oberloiben, Wachau. Austria
Winemaker: Franz Xaver Pichler and Lucas Pichler
Franz Xavier Pichler is ‘widely regarded as Austria’s number one winemaker’ (Hugh Johnson). These wines are intense and profound and quite unlike anything that I’ve seen before. As varietals these wines would be expensive. As the pinnacle of their type, and some of Europe’s finest whites they are good value. All the wines are shipped in quantities, and are offered on a first come first served basis.
Spitz, Wachau – Austria
Spitz is at the Western end of the Wachau, closest to the mountains, and is the coolest area. The wines of Hirtzberger, all fermented in stainless steel and then aged in old oak barrels, are markedly different from the rest. Spicy, exotic and perfectly poised, it’s truly exciting to have added Hirtzberger to our Austria line-up. The Singerriedel vineyard is one of the most celebrated in all of Austria, and is a fully allocated wine all the time. We’ve managed to snare 5 doz only for Australia. Our entire shipment of Hirtzberger is less than one pallet!
Burgenland Region, Austria
Roland Velich has a vision for Burgenland’s native grape, Blaufränkisch. He wants to produce Blaufränkisch wines with all the depth and complexity of the best red Burgundy. To be clear, Roland doesn’t wish to replicate Burgundy in Austria. However he sees the Blaufränkisch grape as somewhat similar to Pinot Noir in terms of potential. This drive for supreme red wine, led the Velichs to purchase a winery in Mittlelburgenland the heart of Blaufränkisch country. Roland also wanted to experiment with vines from different sites within this region – so he sought out quality growers. He now purchases grapes, based on location, vine age and grape quality, rather than weight, from several small growers. Through this experimentation “Moric” wines were born. MORIC Blaufränkisch wines come from two very different sites. “Neckenmarkter” wine comes from relatively high elevation, hillside vineyards, while “Lutzmannsburger” wine is produced from vines grown in volcanic soil on top of a sun-collecting plateau. Within both sites, there are some seriously old vines. A few of the Neckenmarkter vineyards are close to 85 years old, while some Lutmannsburger vines clock in at 100 years. Now that’s old vines. Not only is there great difference in wine from the two sites; but there is also significant differences between younger vine bottlings and old vine bottlings of the same sites.
Burgenland Region, Austria
It has been 15 years since Brigitte and Gerhard Pittnauer started to run the winery in Gols near Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, at the eastern extremity of Austria bordering with Hungary. With only 3.8 hectares of vineyards they took over from Gerhard’s parents and dared to jump in at the proverbial deep end. In 2001 the construction of the striking and individually designed production hall in the middle of the vineyards allowed for a “quantum jump” as far as quality and quantity is concerned. Today the Gerhard & Brigitte Pittnauer Winery ranks among Austria’s rising red wine producers. Gerhard is interested in bio-dynamics, which he’s now implementing in his vineyards, and he told me that he stopped spraying synthetic chemicals last year. ‘We only use sulphur and copper’, Gerhard emphasizes, ‘and we spray BD500 and BD501’. These are two of the biodynamic preparations that assist with plant and soil health. ‘We use a quad-bike as well as the tractor to spray, because this has less weight’, says Gerhard. ‘We use mechanical tilling, and this year I will try a natural green cover beneath the vines.’ LOOK OUT LATER IN THE YEAR FOR SINGLE VINEYARD RELEASES FROM PITTNAUER…
Weissenkirchen, Wachau. Austria.
Toni Bodenstein is an icon of the new Austria. Innovative is his approach Toni has been in control of winemaking since the early nineties and has positioned the Prager estate as one of the very top echelon. The estates vineyards cover 13ha; 65% planted to Riesling, 25% Gruner Veltliner. You get the very strong impression that Toni Bodenstein is the man, perhaps above all others, to really do it for the Wachau. Time and patience are on his side “We’ve brought in a combined shipment of 150 dozen, the biggest by far, in fact we’ve taken all that we can get from the man who was named in THE TOP 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN WINE.”
Kremstal Region, Austria
With over 550 years of history, Weingut Stadt Krems is one of the oldest wine-producers in Austria, and even in the whole Europe. Since July, 2003 Weingut Stadt Krems is managed by a young, innovative team directed by Fritz Miesbauer. The flagships of Stadt Krems are Riesling and Grüner Veltliner (over 90 %). All wines are sealed with a vino-lok. Weingut Stadt Krems cultivates 31 hectares of vineyards on its own estate, which are exclusively on the best terraced locations of the city of Krems. The vineyards to the east of the city are made up of loess soil. In the Weinzierlberg, Sandgrube and Gebling vineyards Riesling, Pinot Blanc und Chardonnay are grown in addition to the predominant variety Grüner Veltliner. To the west of the city, bordering on the winegrowing area Wachau, the landscape is mainly formed of small terraces on steep mountain slopes of gneiss and slate. This is where the vineyards of Pfaffenberg, Grillenparz, Wachtberg, Kögl and Kremsleiten are located, where Grüner Veltliner and, above all, Riesling are grown.
Kremstal Region, Austria
Philipp Wittmann’s passion is to produce wines with great aging potential that reflect the influence of their terroir and are made from grapes grown in biodynamic cultivated vineyards. Intensive vineyard maintenance throughout the year, low yields and an uncompromising selection of bunches – by hand – lay the foundation wines of high quality. In the cellar, the grapes and must are handled very gently. For the most part, the wines ferment in traditional, old oak casks or in stainless steel. Fermentation often continues into the year following the harvest. A star of the last two Frankland Estate International Riesling tastings in Melbourne and Sydney; we’re delighted to finally have these wines here.