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Posts Tagged ‘Austria

Wein wine

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Vinealis was the featured agency at the Mo’ Wine Group’s early September tasting, which was led by the agency’s founder and head honcho, André Papineau. Despite the fact that I’ve known André for longer than about anyone else in the Quebec wine importing business (we first met when he was a sommelier at Montreal’s Laloux restaurant), this was his first visit to the group. I suspect it won’t be his last. We began with a wine from the outskirts of Vienna.

Wein 2016, Riesling, Wieninger ($28.15, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Riesling from biodynamically farmed vines rooted in loess and limestone. The grapes are manually harvested and macerated on the skins for five hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured on the fine lees. Residual sugar 1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Beautiful nose: apple, peach, chalky minerals, white flowers, crushed leaves and, per another taster, “passion fruit.” Pure, dry and grippy (due not to tannins, of course, but rather to the bracing acidity and high mineral content), filled with ripe yet austere fruit. Impressive dimensionality for a wine at this price point, including a long, stony finish. (Buy again? Done!)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 1 of 9

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Written by carswell

October 24, 2017 at 12:27

Blank slate

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Burgenland 2014, Weisser Schiefer, Winebau Uwe Schiefer ($24.35, 13349543)
A former sommelier turned winemaker, Uwe Schiefer, whose last name means slate in German, has earned the reputation of a bad boy of Austrian wine. Located in southern Burgenland, his eponymous estate focuses on Austrian varieties, in particular Blaufränkisch. As of a few years ago, it was said to be organic converting to biodynamic though I’ve not found any recent information about that. The grapes for this “white slate” blend of Welschriesling (90%), Grüner Veltliner (5%) and Pinot Blanc (5%) came from vineyards in the Eisenberg, Hannersdorf and Kohfidisch DACs. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in large wood vats. Malolactic fermentation and maturation on the lees in neutral barrels lasted 11 months. Unfiltered. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Tocade.

A faint reductive note blows off, leaving a distant, elusive nose that has the assembled tasters grasping for descriptors: “yogurty stuff,” “wet fur,” “sour grape,” “quince.” Shows a similar lack of presence in the mouth, the texture watery (“lacks glycerol” notes one taster), the acidity incognito and the flavours bland, a final hint of marzipan being the only exception. Chewing reveals minerals, pith, stone fruit and a little more dimensionality. Tasted the next day, the tail end had lost whatever mojo it once had. Something of a wallflower, then. Passing through a phase? Proof that, on its own, Welschriesling is, as some claim, best suited for sweet, botrytized wines? In any case, only two of us were intrigued enough to say we’d buy another bottle. In the past, the group has been impressed by Schiefer’s reds (April 2016, February 2012) but this didn’t generate anywhere near the same excitement. (Buy again? Maybe. Or maybe wait for the next vintage.)

Written by carswell

September 12, 2017 at 11:28

Meinklangers

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The Mo’ Wine Group’s latest agency tasting was led by La QV’s head honcho Cyril Kérébel. The wine-up featured a particularly high proportion of whites, all with great minerality and a saline edge, as well as a wowser rosé and a handful of super-drinkable reds. We began with a trio of new-to-most whites from one of our favourite producers.

Burgenland 2015, Burgenlandwhite, Meinklang ($23.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
A blend of Grüner Veltliner (50%), Welschriesling (40%) and Muscat Ottonel (10%) from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. Residual sugar: 4.9 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Hay, straw, white flowers, chalk, distant “chives” and dried orange peel. Round in the mouth, the acidity smooth, the texture verging on waxy. The upfront fruit and underlying minerals give ways to a long savoury, saline finish with a lingering white pepper note. “Building spiciness underneath rosewater,” proclaims one taster. A perfect summer white is the general consensus. (Buy again? Yep.)

Somló 2015, H15, Meinklang ($37.65, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Hárslevelü from biodynamically farmed vines grown at the base of the extinct Somló (pronounced shom-low) volcano in southwest Hungary, not far from the Austrian border. The must is passed through a coarse filter before fermentation. The wine-making – which takes place at the estate’s Burgenland winery – is non-interventionist, with no additions except, possibly, a tiny squirt of sulphur at bottling. Matured in stainless steel tanks and old oak barrels for 12 months. Residual sugar: 4.2 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Complex, aromatic nose dominated by honey, spice and yellow fruit. Dense and weighty (not heavy) on the palate, the fruit wrapped around a softly glowing core of acidity. The complex of flavours turns impressively savoury/salty/sweaty on the mid-palate. Very long. Less tense and minerally, more stone-fruity and unctuous than some earlier vintages but no less engaging. (Buy again? Yep.)

Burgenland 2014, Konkret Weiss, Meinklang ($65.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A field blend of three Gewürztraminers, specifically Red Traminer, Yellow Traminer and plain old Gewürztraminer. Macerated on the skins for 21 days. Vinified in egg-shaped concrete tanks. No added anything, including sulphur. Residual sugar: 1.6 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
For once, an orange wine that actually has an orange cast. One taster describes the complex nose of gardenia, cedar, spice and a funky whiff as “like the old lady in front of me on the bus, eating a grapefruit.” Dazzlingly complex and layered on the palate. Rich yet fluid. Dry but not austerely so. Structured by bright acidity and light tannins. The endless finish is awash in umami. (Buy again? Yep, wincing only slightly at the price.)

And Cyril shared some good Meinklang news with us: the SAQ will be including their impressive “Graupert” Pinot Gris in its Opération vins oranges release this fall and will also be carrying their fine ancient grains beer.

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Just in time for asparagus season

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Wachau 2014, Grüner Veltliner, Terrassen, Nikolaihof ($21.65, 13166181)
Austria’s oldest estate and one of its most storied. This is the first Nikolaihof wine to be sold at the SAQ. 100% Grüner Veltliner from organically and biodynamically farmed estate vines between 10 and 45 years old planted in the Wachau on the south shore of the Danube. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcoholic fermentation and three months’ maturation on the lees took place in very large barrels. Malolactic fermentation was avoided. The wine was later matured in tanks before being lightly filtered (but not fined) and bottled. The only addition was a squirt of sulphur dioxide at bottling. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 3.3 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

Textbook nose: white pepper, stone, lime (fruit and pith), herb salad, turned earth, sea brine and the faintest hint of honey. Texture somewhere between waxy and buttery. Savoury and quite dry. The fruit and greens are swirled with an intense minerality (quartz, saline). The pervasive acidity is softened by the not inconsiderable extract. The long finish brings a white pepper note and a Szechuan pepper numbingness. Not as crystalline, layered, dimensional or commanding as a top GV but punching well above its weight. A natural with river fish and white meats accompanied by cabbage and, like many GVs, unfazed by asparagus. (Buy again? Yes, though unfortunately there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

May 16, 2017 at 12:58

Ward & associés tasting (5/9)

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Burgunland 2015, Gemischter Satz, Alexander Koppitsch ($40.98, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The estate is located in Neusiedl am See, a village and district on the north shore of Lake Neusidel, southeast of Vienna. As implied by the Gemischter Satz moniker (though I don’t believe the wine qualifies for the Weiner Gemischter Satz appellation), this is a field blend of co-planted white varieties, including Grüner Veltliner, Brauner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Zimttraube, Ochsenauge, Isabellatraube, Neuburger, Traminer, Muskat and Sauvignon Blanc. Planted in 1934, the vines are estate-owned and biodynamically farmed. Vinified as an orange wine, spending 14 days on the skins. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in old barriques. Unfiltered and unfined, with no added sulphur. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Slightly hazy bronzy rose-gold in the glass. Savoury, spicy and not particularly fruity nose with notes of preserved lemon and browning apple as well as a whiff of volatile acidity. In the mouth, it’s medium weight, fluently acidic, faintly tannic and somewhat inscrutable, like “mineral water” or “weak tea” along with lemon, a suggestion of stone fruit and minerals. Actually quite complex, if subtly so, and long. Smoothed out and unfurled nicely after three hours. Will be interesting to see what gives in three or four years. (Buy again? A bottle gladly.)

koppitsch-gemiscter-satzkoppitsch-rot-no-7

Burgunland 2015, Rot No. 7, Alexander Koppitsch ($23.19, private import, 6 bottles/case)
55% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufränkisch, 20% St. Laurent and 5% Syrah from estate-owned, biodyanmically farmed vines. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in large oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered. Unfined. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. Screwcapped. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.
Outgoing nose of “clove,” “nutmeg,” candied raspberry, “frankincense incense” and a bit of poop. Medium-bodied and satin-textured. The bright supple fruit has a certain sweetness, though the wine is definitely dry, and an umami quality prompt descriptors like “soy sauce.” Sinewy tannins and a dusting of minerals only add to the interest. The finish is long but more felt than tasted. Nothing profound but eminently drinkable and something of a bargain. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 5 of 9

Ward & associés tasting (3/9)

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Steirerland Landwein, “Trauben, Liebe und Zeit”, Weiss No. 7, Strohmeier ($50.73, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Trauben, Liebe und Zeit means “grapes, love and time” and is the name given to the estate’s line of natural wines. Mainly Pinot Blanc with some Chardonnay from the 2014 and 2015 vintages. The grapes are estate-grown, organically farmed and manually harvested.  Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 11 months in neutral 500-litre barrels. No added anything, including sulphur. Unfiltered and unfined. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Ward & associés.

strohmeier-weiss-no-7

Cloudy light green-gold in the glass. Nose of white pepper, lemon, “sour orange,” lees and more besides. In the mouth, it’s soft textured and a bit spritzy. A wallflower at first though chewing reveals all kinds of complexity – including pear, herbs and chalk – and some depth. Comments from the peanut gallery: “like a gueuze,” “tastes like scrapes” (which, as I learned, are light metal shavings), “stealth acidity.” The long finish is faintly bitter and sour. Unique, fascinating and delicious. I was ready to lay down my money until I saw the price… (Buy again? Only if feeling flush, alas.)

MWG February 2, 2017, tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

February 14, 2017 at 12:08

Blaufränkisch times two and a half…

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…or maybe times two and three-quarters, since Zweigelt is a cross of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.

Burgenland 2013, Pitti, Weingut Pittnauer ($18.55, 12411000)
A 50-50 blend of Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt from biodynamically farmed vines. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Macerated on the skins for two to three weeks. Pressed pneumatically. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured (for about six months) in temperature-controlled stainless steel. Lightly filtered before bottling. Screwcap. Reducing sugar: 6.4 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Appealing nose of red and black berries and turned earth. In the piehole, it’s juicy, brightly acidic and, due to that, fundamentally dry. Floral aromatics and crunchy minerals colour the mid-palate while light raspy tannins mark the finish. A bit rustic and all the better for it. Totally poundbackable and a delight with grilled sausages, all for well under $20 – what’s not to like? (Buy again? Yep.)

Burgenland 2013, Blaufränkisch, Weinbau Uwe Schiefer ($24.75, 12806571)
100% Blaufränkisch. Schiefer, whose last name fortuitously means schist in German, is a former sommelier who decided to get his hands dirty. Located in southern Burgenland, his estate is organic but converting to biodynamism. The winemaking is minimalist: “All the wines ferment spontaneously and mature in differently sized casks on the yeast. No modern technology, no barrique.” Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Tocade.
Spice, leafmould and slate, gaining red meat and menthol notes. Medium-bodied and silky textured. Blackberry juicey – both very fruity and very dry, with streaming acidity, sleek tannins and a dark mineral underlay. Good length. Less complex and deep than Schiefer’s high-end cuvées (which cost twice as much) but still lovely. (Buy again? Yes.)

Burgenland 2012, Blaufränkisch, Reserve, Weingut Moric ($51.00, 12282527)
100% Blaufränkisch from century-old vines in the Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg vineyards. Owner Roland Velich farms without herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers but doesn’t claim the organic label. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in old barrels. Sulphur use is kept to a minimum. Unfined, like all Moric wines. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Evolving nose: rose, spice, slate and, eventually, leather and faint juniper berries. Beautiful if young, an extracted yet balanced mix of ripe fruit and slate, cranberry-like tartness and finely detailed tannins. “Bitterness adds the balancing touch” (quoting another taster) to the long, long finish. Great clarity and precision. Multidimensional but still a little monolithic (give it a few more years in the cellar or a few hours in a carafe), pricey but not overpriced. Having been burned so many times, I now buy backup bottles for tastings and return the backup if the first bottle isn’t defective. I’d planned to do that with this but couldn’t bring myself to part with the second bottle. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG April 14th tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

July 29, 2016 at 11:40