Australian Wine- Imported by Terry Theise
This week we will explore wines of Austria, six to be exact, including three whites, one rose, and two reds. The selection will be presented by Jonathan Thomas, who just returned from a week-long trip to Austria that was sponsored by Terry Theise (the importer of the wines for this week’s tasting). Jonathan will provide insight about Austria’s wine history, culture, grape varieties, and traditions, as well as share a beautiful slide-show of pictures that he took on his trip.
Two of the three whites are made from Austria’s most important grape, Gruner Veltliner. One is an “everyday” wine, made by H&M Hofer (many of you are probably familiar with this one) that is in a 1-liter bottle enclosed with a green beer cap; the other is a more serious and complex style, made by Gobelsburg, an “ancient” producer. The third white is a Riesling, although this is not a sweet example, it is bright, aciditic, lively, and delicious! The rose is fresh and dry, made from a blend of Zweigelt and St. Laurent. The two reds are a varietal example of each grape in the rose, a Zweigelt in a 1-liter bottle (also sealed with a beer cap), and an unoaked St. Laurent (clone of Pinot Noir), that is a bit more “serious” than the Zweigelt.
Terry Theise is a leading importer of wines from Germany, Austria and Champagne, and represents some of our favorite wines in each category. He published a book, “Reading Between the Wines”, a few years ago (see photo at bottom of this page) that is funny and creative; it provides insight about the business of importing and the wines and producers in Germany, Austria and Champagne. Terry was named the 2008 James Beard Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional and 2005 Food & Wine Magazine Importer of the Year.
Terry Theise’s Manifesto is:
- Beauty is more important than impact.
- Harmony is more important than intensity.
- The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts.
- Distinctiveness is more important than conventional prettiness.
- Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil, and artisanality.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Terry’s wines. If you would like to learn more about him, please click here. To view his entire Austrian catalog, with colorful descriptions of the regions, producers, grape varieties, and wines click here.
The following is a bit of information (written by Terry Theise) about each of the producers for this week’s tasting:
Weingut H&M Hofer: “The small town of Auersthal is located just barely beyond Vienna’s northern suburbs, in a little wine village in the Weinviertel. Hofer belongs to a group called Bio-Ernte which has standards above the EU guidelines. The vineyards lie in a rain-shadow and have to endure hot summers with very little rain. The wines are pressed conventionally (no whole-cluster) with skin contact, and all whites are done in stainless steel.”
- Certified-Organic Estate
- Vineyard area: 15 hectares
- Top sites: Freiberg, Kirchlissen
- Soil types: Sandy loam, with loess-loam and some clay; light soils
Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg: “An old monastic estate that has been “re-vamped” with Willi Bründlmayer as consultant along with Michael and Eva Moosbrugger. They produce wines of incredible value, although they probably won’t always be so. Their special genius seems to lie in the making of very pretty fine-grained wines at the “low” end of his range—no small gift. The monks of the Zwettl Monastery, who managed the winery themselves until 1995, used organic fertilizer, did not use herbicides, and practiced ecological winegrowing. The wines of Schloss Gobelsburg are made using the traditional method of the 19th century and not only have old and sound ageing structures, but also pave the way to (almost) forgotten Austrian culture of taste.”
- Vineyard area: 40 hectares
- Annual production: 12,500 cases
- Top sites: Heiligenstein, Gaisberg, Lamm
- Soil types: Volcanic sandstone, mica slate, and alpine gravel
- Grape varieties: 50% Grüner Veltliner, 25% Riesling, 5% Zweigelt, 8% Pinot Noir, 12% other
Weingut E&M Berger: “Charm and value typify these wines. Clean, cultured-yeast wines with lots of primary fruit, yet aging superbly. The Veltliners are zingy and spicy; in soft years like 2000 they have a winsome ‘sweet’ vegetality (the red beet aspect); in years like 2001 they have more lift and cut. Cultured yeasts give them all a similar profile; fresh, long in middle and finish, polished, with a finely doughy aftertaste; clean, pure through and through, vital, frisky and crisp. This is a father/son estate of fourteen hectares. Half of the land consists of south-facing loess terraces with locally renowned names. Vines are Riesling, Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and the “C” word [Chardonnay]. All the wines are made dry. Berger is all stainless steel, of course.”
- Vineyard area: 18 hectares
- Annual production: 5,400 cases
- Top sites: Gebling, Steingraben, Zehetnerin
- Soil types: Loess, stony clay, gravelly loess
- Grape varieties: 50% Grüner Veltliner, 10% Riesling, 10% Welschriesling, 20% Zweigelt, 10% other
Weinbau Sattler: “Erich Sattler is emblematic of the new generation of Austrian vintners, a wine-school grad, 4th generation in the family, taking over as recently as 1999. My colleagues discovered him at the ProWein fair in February 2004. “We make wine as my grandfather did,” he says, “only with better machines.” He’s looking for red wines with “ripe, soft tannin” — and the [offerings from Terry Theise] are great examples!”
- Vineyard area: 10 hectares
- Soil types: rich in minerals, gravel and sometimes light sand
- Grape varieties: 35% Zweigelt, 25% St. Laurent, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Welschreisling, 10% Pinot Blanc, 5% Muscat
We hope you will join us this week to taste some wonderful Austrian wines and learn more about this region of quality and value! (We will also open a “bonus wine” from Austria that was one of Jonathan’s favorites from his trip! Hint, hint- a red made from Blaufrankisch that- to me- tastes like a cross of Bordeaux and Barolo)
The specific wines for the tasting are:
Weingut H&M Hofer Gruner Veltliner 2011– Weinviertel, Niederosterreich, Austria. 100% Gruner Veltliner, estate grown; fermented and aged in stainless steel. The grapes are dry-farmed and planted in loess soils which provide mineral character and structure to the wine. Hofer’s 15 hectares of vines are certified organic. This outstanding value, which happens to be one of our favorite “summer wines” of all time, is in a 1-liter bottle complete with a beer-cap. It is fresh and lively with aromas of lime, ripe melon, and mineral undertones, followed by a softer-than-usual palate of citrus fruit flavors, stone, and green pepper and herb hints. Affordable, pleasant and perfect for a crowd! Tasting $13.99
Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner “Gobelsburger” 2011– Kamptal, Austria. Schloss Gobelsburg is an old monastic estate, founded in 1786; in January 1996 the estate was taken on a long-term lease by Willi Brundlmayer (proprieter of Weingut Brundlmayer) and Michael Moosbrugger. Grapes for this wine are from the Lamm, Grub, and Renner Vineyards; they are young vineyards (under 20 years) of the former ‘Steiner Allerheilgenstiftung’. Pleasant perfumed scents of garden herbs, yellow fruits of pear and yellow apple, and smoky undertones greet the nose. The palate is subtle and refined and medium- to full-bodied with tangy, spicy notes and pleasant tart fruit on the finish. 1-liter bottle sealed with a beer cap. Tasting $14.99
Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling “Gobelsburger” 2011– Kamptal, Austria. 100% Riesling grown on the meager stony terraces of Heiligenstein and Gaisberg mountain Vineyards. Aromatic and extremely fragrant with deep aromas of melon, peach, and wildflowers with hints of honey and mineral. The palate is rich and extracted with bright fruit flavors of green apple and lemon/lime, within a dry, acidic framework. A very well-made, complex offering with notes of spice, smoke, and green tea on the fresh, flawless finish. Tasting $14.99
Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg Rose “Gobelsburger” 2011– Kamptal, Austria. The rose is made from Zweigelt (cross of Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent) and St. Laurent grapes from the cooler Vineyard sites of Langenlois and Gobelsburg. The wine fermented in stainless steel then aged in neutral large Austrian oak cask; it did not go through malolactic fermentation. Brilliant light-pink in color with wonderful aromas of fresh cherry fruit, spring flowers, and juicy, ripe watermelon. It is dry and sleek on the palate, and most certainly “Old World” in style with delicate, subdued fruit flavors, mouthwatering acidity, and delightful saline qualities on the refined finish. Tasting $13.99
Weingut E&M Berger Zweigelt 2010– Kremstal, Austria. 100% Zweigelt that fermented and aged in stainless steel. Zweigelt is a cross of Blaufrankisch (same as Lemberger) and St. Laurent (a clone of Pinot Noir) that was developed by Fritz Zweigelt in 1922. Today it is the most widely planted red grape variety in Austria. Attractive, fresh and fragrant with aromas and flavors of cherry, mineral and spice, and hints of flowers. Lively, refreshing acidity, gentle tannins, and excellent balance makes for an energizing summertime red that would match beautifully with a wide range of foods. 1-liter bottle sealed with a beer cap. Tasting $13.99
Weinbau Sattler St. Laurent 2011– Neusiedlersee, Austria. 100% St. Laurent that fermented in stainless steel then aged on the lees for six months (in stainless steel), then bottled after minimal filtration. St. Laurent is an offspring of the Pinot Noir grape that originated in France. This example is dark purple in color with a fruity nose of blackberry, black cherry, and sweet plum. Upon entry, the texture is velvety, enhanced by flavors of juicy fruit and elegant cherry, with hints of wild berry and gamey/earthy undertones. A seductive wine that offers good length and excellent value. Tasting $16.99