austria biodynamic buzz germany low intervention organic sustainably farmed

An Afternoon with Innovative, Rising Icon Winemakers of Austria and Germany

From left to right, Kevin Eidens of David Bowler Wine, Alwin Jurtschitsch, Johannes Hasselbach and Christoph Hoch

I was delighted to spend Saturday afternoon amongst the company of spectacular wines and winemakers. Held at natural wine bar Lucas Confectionary in Troy NY, the tasting was organized by Kevin Eidens of David Bowler Wine and Heather LaVine, owner of famed natural wine shop 22 Second St Wine Co and Lucas Confectionary [in addition to other pioneering restaurants]. The tasting featured 4 progressive winemakers that are innovating and changing the frame of modern Austrian and German wines.

Christoph Hoch
3rd generation winemaker Christoph Hoch started working in his family’s winery in 2009. By 2013 he felt stagnated with their methods. His family gave him 5 hectares of vineyards in order for him to be able to go in a more instinctual, experimental direction, “maximizing the terroir”.

Located in the town of Hollenburg, on the south side of the Danube, 1 hour west of Vienna, Christoph farms biodynamically and organically [certified in 2015]. He uses specific herbs and grains in the vineyard to bring vital nutrients to the soil. An example is mustard, it adds sulphur to the soil. It “protects the plants and transfers it naturally to the wines, so that he can use as little as possible at bottling”.

All wines are spontaneously fermented and aged in very old, large barrels. The majority of his wines are a blend of different vintages, as he feels this is the best expression of the terroir and grape.

Passionate and dedicated, his wines reflect his enthusiasm and charm.

For a closer look, check out his producer page over at David Bowler Wine.

Christoph Hoch ‘Kalkspitz’ Pet Nat Kremstal NV

Winemaking: This is a blend of 70% of the 2017 vintage and 30% of 2016. The 2016 vintage is added at the halfway point in fermentation, making sure it doesn’t stop the fermentation. The name is inspired by the amount of chalk [kalk] Christoph has in his vineyards.

Tasting Notes: Slate mineral driven with bright lemon, subtle yellow apple and a squeeze of grapefruit buoyed by consistent, small bubbles. Dry, crisp and clean, incredibly refreshing.
35% Grüner Veltliner, 35% Zweigelt [pressed white], 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Blauer Portugesier, 5% Muskat Ottonel
10.5% Alcohol
$20

Christoph Hoch ‘Hollenburger’ Grüner Veltliner Kremstal NV

Winemaking: A blend of 2015,2016 & 2017 vintages. Aged in wood barrels 4-85+ years in age [his grandfather’s Burgundy barrels]. Named after the village his vineyards are in.

Tasting Notes: A sleek fusion of light, stone fruits, yellow apple, a trace of almond and citrus acidity. Clean, super crisp and gluggable.
100% Grüner Veltliner
11.5% Alcohol
$21

Christoph Hoch Rosé Kremstal NV

Tasting Notes: Super fresh, with juicy, tangy red fruits glossed by bright, citrus acidity. A vein of minerality runs thru to the bone-dry finish.
100% Zweigelt
9.5% Alcohol
$18

Jutta Ambrositsch
Jutta began making wines in 2004, after leaving a career in graphic design. [She designs the eye-catching, minimalist labels that grace her wines.] Her 11 acres of vineyards are spread across 10 different parcels on both sides of the Danube, in the city of Vienna. [Vienna has the most vineyards planted of any city in the world.] Her vines are farmed biodynamically and organically. Wines are fermented spontaneously with native yeasts, there are no additions of, enzymes, or sugar, and only a minimum amount of sulfur.

For a closer look, check out her producer page over at David Bowler Wine.

Jutta Ambrositsch ‘Ein Liter Wien’ 2017

Winemaking: A combination of second press juice from all of the white wine vineyards. Vinified in concrete.

Tasting Notes: Fruity and light, with grapefruit, a trace of petrol, a wisp of funk and zippy acidity accented by a savoury herbaceous finish.
Blend of traditional Viennese white grapes
12.5% Alcohol
$26

Jutta Ambrositsch Gemischter Satz Kosmopolit 2017

Winemaking: Grapes are from 4 year old vines on both sides of the Danube. The vineyards are very steep and surrounded by forest.

Tasting Notes: Delicate layers of stone fruit and white flowers glossed by fresh acidity. Silky, refreshing and elegant.
Blend of Weissburgunder, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling
12.5% Alcohol
$23

Alwin Jurtschitsch
Dating back to the 16th century, Weingut Jurtschitsch is the oldest winemaking estate in Kamptal. Located 37 miles northwest of Vienna, the ancient wine growing area is known for its sunny, poor soil terraces positioned on the steep slopes of the Kamp River that produce “some of the world’s very finest white wines”.

Pioneering, low intervention winemakers Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife Stefanie Hasselbach [of Gunderloch fame], began transforming his family estate to organic farming in 2006; in 2009 they officially took the reins. In addition to organic, low intervention farming, they are passionate about preserving the area’s biodiversity. Growing amongst the vines are fruit trees, grasses, garlic and wildflowers.

For a closer look, check out his producer page over at David Bowler Wine.

Jurtschitsch ‘Stein’ Grüner Veltliner Kamptal 2017

Winemaking: The signature, or entry level wine of the estate. Grapes are from a variety of the estate’s mountain slope vineyards, the majority coming from Loiserberg and Steinmassl. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and left to rest on the fine lees before bottling in spring.

Tasting Notes: Light and fresh, with summer herbs, clean minerality and shimmering citrus acidity.
100% Grüner Veltliner
12.5% Alcohol
$20

Jurtschitsch Grüner Veltliner Loiserberg 1ÖTW Kamptal  2016

Winemaking: Loiserberg is a terraced Erste Lage (Premiere Cru classified) southeast facing vineyard. It is their highest and coolest vineyard, at 400 meters above sea-level. Vines are 30+ years old, soils are slate, with a little loess on top. Crafted traditionally, in his grandfather’s style; spontaneous fermentation in 2000 liter, local oak barrels that belonged to his grandfather, followed by 6 months on full lees before bottling. No sulphur added.

Tasting Notes: Savoury and mineral driven, with apple, grapefruit and slate minerality glossed by crisp acidity. Elegant and ethereal.
100% Grüner Veltliner
12.5% Alcohol
$30

Jurtschitsch ‘Belle Naturelle’ Grüner Veltliner 2018

Winemaking: Grapes are from terraced vineyards in Langenlois with gneiss and granite soil. Macerated for two weeks on the skins, the free run juice is racked into a single 5,000L barrel for aging. Bottled unfiltered with 10mg/L of sulfur at bottling.

Tasting Notes: A mercurial fusion of floral and savoury, almost like a light amaro, with geranium, yarrow, cinnamon, orange and green tea gliding over fresh acidity. Distinctive and engaging, one of my favourites of the tasting.
100% Gruner Veltliner
12% Alcohol
N/A [Unreleased at time of writing.]

Jurtschitsch Rosé Vom Zweigelt 2018

Winemaking: Grapes are whole bunch pressed. To preserve the delicate aromas and flavors of the grapes, the must is fermented in chilled stainless steel tanks at 18°C, the wine is then stored in them on the lees.

Tasting Notes: Zippy and agile, with fresh red berries, clean minerality and apple cider acidity.
100% Zweigelt
12.5% Alcohol
$18

Johannes Hasselbach [Gunderloch]
Founded in 1890 by Carl Gunderloch, 6th generation winemaker Johannes Hasselbach farms 25 hectares of vineyards in the red shale, rocky slopes of the “Roter Hang” between Nackenheim and Nierstein, in the Rheinhessen region of Germany. Following his renowned father’s lead [Fritz Hasselbach], he passionately focuses on crafting expressive Riesling. The 250 million year old red slate slopes not only are a distinctive terroir, but also contain a microclimate next to the Rhein River. The estate’s wines are famed for their spicy minerality, elegance, racy acidity and balance.

For a closer look, check out his producer page over at David Bowler Wine.

Gunderloch ‘Estate’ Riesling Spätlese Rheinhessen 2016

Tasting Notes: Slate mineral driven, with ripe stone fruit, tropical traces and bright acidity, complimented by citrus and melon on the dry, mineral finish. Agile, silky and well balanced.
100% Riesling
9% Alcohol
$24

Gunderloch  ‘Jean-Baptiste’ Riesling Kabinett Rheinhessen 2017

Winemaking: A blend from the higher vineyards of three of the estate’s grand cru sites [Nierstein Hipping, Nierstein Pettenthal and Nackenheim
Rothenberg].

Tasting Notes: A crisp edge to the tangy tropical fruit, citrus, slate minerality and racy acidity. A spectacular play between sweetness and acidity.
100% Riesling
10.5% Alcohol
$21

Gunderloch ‘Estate’ Riesling Trocken Rheinhessen 2015

Winemaking: A blend from three of the estate’s grand cru sites [Nierstein Hipping, Nierstein Pettenthal and Nackenheim Rothenberg].

Tasting Notes: Fresh citrus and green apple wrap around a mineral core glossed with vibrant acidity. Dry and crisp, super refreshing.
100% Riesling
12% Alcohol
$24

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