Offer available through Monday, 2/27/2023, or as inventory lasts.
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Hi everyone –
During a recent round of warehouse hunting, we came across something special. The last bottles of Austrian wines from the best vintage in the last 50 years, 2015.
To say we were surprised to find these is major understatement. These wines initially arrived during the heyday of new and edgy restaurants with strong wine programs, circa 2017. The Bachelor Farmer. Spoon and Stable. Young Joni. Bellecour. P.S. Steak. Borough. Monello. Those and many more great destinations were to be the homes for wines like these.
These restaurants and the sommeliers that were crafting top-notch wine lists from 2016-2020 were going nuts for wines like this. It was well known in wine circles that you should grab every single bottle of 2015 Austrian wines you could find from the best producers.
And then … covid.
Can you believe we’re coming up on three years? And as restaurants have started to reopen and find their feet again, precious few are investing in their wine inventory.
SO WE BOUGHT IT ALL.
Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Weissburgunder, and Riesling: a quick overview
These are bone dry wines. No sugar anywhere to be found.
These are aromatically explosive wines, as complex as they come.
And due to the quality of the 2015 vintage, it’s easy to say these might be some of the best white wines we could possibly offer to you.
Grüner Veltliner is the darling of sommeliers worldwide due to being highly complex, edgy, complete, and capable of pairing with a range of food (especially folic acid, i.e. green veggies). You can expect loads of apple, peach, pear, sandalwood, talc, mineral, jasmine, and lilac aromas. And they get better with a bit of age.
“… in the hands of the best growers and on the best sites in the Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal, Weinviertel and Donauland, they can be stunningly concentrated and ageworthy: typically dry and full-bodied with a peppery perfume and firm, minerally citrus and sometimes spicy flavours, becoming more burgundian with age.”Wine Grapes, by Jancis Robinson
Austrian Rieslings are bone dry and power-packed with the flinty-minerally-edgy personalities that we tend to seek out as wine lovers. It’s like turning the music up to 11, to quote Nigel Tufnel.
Weissburgunder is the Austrian term for Pinot Blanc. Like the Rieslings and the Grüners, the Pinot Blancs of Austria are firmly based on acidity and snap, with a wondrous level of complexity that you simply don’t find in most Italian examples.
There’s only about 50 bottles available. Total. Across all seven wines. Sorry.
Ott Grüner Veltliner “Stein” 2015
Only 2 bottles available. You read that right.
Benhard Ott is one of the pioneers of biodynamic farming in Austria, and a leader when it comes to earth-friendly farming practices. His wines are laser-precise, and are elegant, clean, and muscular at the same time. There is nothing else like it.
Stein (“stone”) is a single vineyard that is one of the more extreme in all of Austria. When you combine the stony vineyard with the biodynamic farming along with the Gruner Veltliner grape and the 2015 vintage, you’re really in for something.
In 2004 Bernhard began composting, using organic cow manure from a friend in the region. In the past four years, he’s used so much manure that the EU contacted him; “they didn’t think it was possible to use 100,000 Euros worth of manure – they thought there was some accounting mistake. In 2006 he took a trip to the legendary biodynamic property Domaine La Romanée Conti in Vosne, with his best friend, Hans Reisetbauer. There, after a marathon tasting in the cellars with Aubert de Villaine, Bernhard committed to move to biodynamic viticulture. In 2007, with Johannes Hirsch, Fred Loimer, and a group of like-minded producers, Respekt was formed. In 2014, after a very difficult harvest in which Bernhard didn’t bottle any single vineyard wines, he decided to work whole cluster saying “the stem is part of the grape. If you work without stems, you get more sweetness, more round fruit.”
Today, Bernhard is looking back to previous generations for inspiration and to inform both his work in the vineyard and in the cellar. Grapes are picked at full ripeness, but thanks to biodynamic farming and composting, the sugar ripeness stays very moderate. “The compost helps with water regulation. Healthy soils give water when the weather is dry and take it back when there is too much. This also means no irrigation at all.” says Bernhard. In addition to working the soils with compost, Bernhard is a firm believer in not disrupting the eco-system under the soils too much, preferring to plowing only 8cm deep.skurnik.com
Nigl Riesling “Hohacker” 2015
Only 5 bottles available.
Austrian riesling is addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. A great Austrian riesling is like meeting a Nobel Prize winner and having a long conversation that you understand but it’s right at the edge of being over your head. Nigl makes one of the best Rieslings on the planet, and I’d put this up against ANYTHING in the world in a blind tasting.
From the importer’s website:
Weingut Nigl, tucked deep in the Krems Valley on the edge of the Senftenberg mountain, often evokes feelings that one has traveled back to medieval times; the wines Martin Nigl creates are as ethereal as the vine lands that they come from. Martin Nigl is a first-generation winemaker, beginning in 1985 after convincing his family to keep the fruit from their small quantity of vines and bottle it themselves rather than selling it to the local co-op. The history with grape-growing is not nearly as recent though; the Nigl family has been farming here for over 200 years. Martin Jr. recently joined his father at the domaine and they are now working side by side in the vines and cellar.
Martin practices sustainable farming, never using herbicides or insecticides, plants cover crops of legumes and herbs, and avoids copper, a mainstay in the biodynamic arsenal, but which he considers detrimental to his vines’ vitality, and harmful to the soil.
In the cellar, Nigl works almost exclusively in stainless steel, never de-stems, uses only ambient yeasts, settles musts by gravity only, racks twice, and never fines before bottling. The resulting wines are some of the most crystalline, transcendent bottlings in the portfolio.skurnik.com
Hofer Grüner Veltliner “Kirchlichen” 2015
Only 11 bottles available. Sorry.
In terms of all the wines on this list, the wines of Hofer are going to the most “friendly” and I mean that in the best way possible. All the other wines presented here are awesome but also powerful. The Hofer, on the other hand, has a gentleness and gulpability that is a nice counter to the Nigl and the Schloss Gobelsburgers.
Info on Hofer from The Wine Advocate:
Based in Auersthal, just 20 kilometers away from Vienna ‘s northern suburbs, Weingut H. und M. Hofer farms 20 hectares of vines, mostly Grüner Veltliner (53%). Seventy percent of the production is white and all of the vineyards are cultivated organic in a fairly dry microclimate and on loess soils.
Hermann Hofer aims to produce “unique and distinctive wines” that reflect their soils, the climate and the vintage, as well as the people who manufacture them. The winemaking is rather conventional. The handpicked grapes are pressed after some hours on the skins, fermented in stainless steel and result in classic Weinviertler wines.
The Veltliners are especially worth a try. They are very clear and fruity, fresh and well structured, and finish with a stimulating minerality. These are serious wines with food that do not cost a fortune, rather the opposite.Robertparker.com
Heidi Schrock Weissburgunder 2015
Only 8 bottles available. Sorry.
100% Pinot Blanc and stunning in its elegant, flinty, stony, and white-fruit packed bouquet. Heidi Schrock is on of the most talented winemakers in all of Austria, and this wine is a slam dunk.
Heidi Schröck took over her family winery in 1983, in the historic village of Rust situated in the province of Burgenland about 5 miles from the Hungarian border. As Heidi explains “South-facing vineyards in a softly rolling landscape form an amphitheater around Rust on Lake Neusiedl bringing forth some of the best and most tradition-rich wines in Austria. Yearly hours of sunshine that lie much higher than the Austrian average combined with sandy soils mixed with clay and high calcium content provide the ideal prerequisites for impressive, full-bodied wines.”
In 2003 Heidi was awarded “Falstaff Vintner of the Year”, making her one of only a handful of women to obtain this distinction. She re-introduced historic varietals such as muscat-lunel and furmint from Hungary while continuing to work with more classic Austrian varietals such as Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder, and Welschriesling.skurnik.com
From the Austrian Wine website:
Schloss Gobelsburg is the oldest winery in the Danube appellation Kamptal with a documented viticultural history dating back to the 12th century. Cistercian monks from Burgundy received their first vineyards in 1171.
Today the estate is concentrating on the typical expressions of the Danube appellations in all categories (regional, village, single vineyard). Beside the classical Danube wines, the estate is producing a few specialities like quality sparkling wine (4 cuvees), a few red wines based on the Pinot family and some sweet wines.
Another speciality is historical winemaking which is the content of the Tradition wines. The estate is member of the association ‘Österreichische Traditionsweingüter’ ,who is establishing a vineyard classification system in Austria.https://www.austrianwine.com/
Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner “Tradition” 2015
Only 12 bottles available. Sorry.
92+ points The Wine Advocate
The 2015 Grüner Veltliner Tradition has a golden-yellow color and opens with a clear and complex bouquet of vegetal and greenish flavors over a deep fundament of ripe and concentrated fruits as well as the crystalline minerality of the Renner where the Tradition has been sourced. Full-bodied, round and rich but transparent, with a firm mineral and good phenolic structure, this is an elegant, still very young but age-worthy Veltliner with a long finish that reveals a certain creaminess or richness along with vegetal flavors. This is a great wine with food.robertparker.com
Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner “Renner” 2015
Plenty to go around! Just kidding. Only 17 bottles available. Sorry.
Ried (single vineyard, cru) Renner is situated on the bottom slope of the Ried Gaisberg Riesling terraces. The soil structure here is deeper and offers more water retention than the primary rock higher on the slopes, making it perfect for growing top quality Grüner Veltliner. The soil here is classic Kamptal loess, but with a high proportion of eroded material from the primary rock(para-gneiss,amphibolite and mica) subsoil of this vineyard.skurnik.com
91 points The Wine Advocate
The 2015 Ried Renner offers a rich and perfectly ripe but still fine, elegant and flinty bouquet. The attack on the palate is fresh and piquant; the second impression is rich, ripe, juicy, pretty round … intense due to the rich extract. However, the freshness does not move and takes the vintage on its wings, carrying it to a long and nicely tannic but also pure and salty finish. This is great Grüner Veltliner with food, even though it is a bit biter on the finish at the moment.robertparker.com
Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling “Heiligenstein” 2015
Only 9 bottles available. Sorry.
94 points The Wine Advocate
The 2015 Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW is super intense and aromatic on the nose on the first day, as if it were a Muscat, and on the second like Riesling from the Heiligenstein! The nose indicates a great mix of concentrated fruit aromas and crushed stones! Full-bodied, dense and intense on the palate, this is a lush and piquant yet pure and very salty Heiligenstein with great tension, finesse and fine grip. It’s perhaps the finest Heiligenstein that has been produced at Schloss Gobelsburg so far!robertparker.com
It’s really on a case-by-case basis this week. Or should I say bottle-by-bottle basis?
How curious are you about Austria? How much do you want to spend?
These wines are not for everyone. But they are for someone, and that might be you. No matter what, it’s a super rare opportunity to grab some of the best wines, from some of the top producers, from one of the best vintages ever.
If you do buy some bottles, when you pop them, I GUARANTEE you’ll understand why we were so excited to find them sitting quietly in the importer’s warehouse.
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Monday at 6:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.