Saturday, April 27, 2013

Learning About #Biodynamic #Gruner #Wine from Austria During #Winechat

This past week I was invited to participate in a tasting of four biodynamic, Gruner Veltliner wines from Austria for the weekly #winechat discussion. Gruner and Austrian wine has been high on my radar, but biodynamic - not so much. I'm familiar with the concepts, but not the theories or practical applications. And the practical applications and preparations that a vineyard must undergo in order to be certified as Biodynamic by the Demeter classification system can be quite bizarre. Here's one take from the San Francisco Weekly.  Another set of practices involve celestial movements. For instance, wine is racked on a descending moon because it is thought that more aromas are lost during a fuller or higher standing moon. Other lunar practices are listed here.  But the main focus for biodynamic should be the beneficial vineyard practices, using manure instead of chemicals; using composts; using natural insectacides - all which must have a positive impact on the vineyard and the surrounding countryside. And apparently, organic and biodynamic farming is quite popular in Austria with organic farming accounting for 20% of total grape production - the highest in Europe.

But for me, the primary concern was the wine, and in my opinion, they were quite good. We started with the Meinklang Burg White ($15), a blend of  Welschriesling, Gruener Veltliner, and Muscat Ottonel. The grapes were harvested from the eastern side of Lake Neusiedl, technically the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland. All these wines were produced using natural yeasts, so the aromas come from the vineyard as well as the Mucat for this wine - floral-citrus, long and powerful. This is a refreshing wine, citrus flavors and even a bright mid that transitions naturally to the finish. 

The next wine was the Nikolaihof Wachau Hefeabzug ($28), 100% Gruner grown in the Wachau region - located west of Vienna and perhaps the best known region for Gruner Veltliner.  This wine possesses a creamy texture a result of neutral oak treatment as well as six months on their lees. It also displays earthy-hay characteristics which intertwine with a lemon citrus nose and peach flavors. An excellent wine.

The Wimmer-Czerny Fumberg came to us from Wagram/Donauland, also in Lower Austria, just north-west of Vienna. The wine is spicier than the previous with a citrus - almost pinesol-ish aroma -  some pear-ish minerality on the palette, before finishing with a short dose of acidity. Very different than the previous - but in a good way.

We completed the night with the Sepp Moser Grüner Veltliner Schnabel 2011($27).  The grapes were also harvested from vineyards in Lower Austria - this time surrounding Krems or the Kremstal region. The winery is named for Sepp Moserl, son of legendary Dr. Lenz Moser, and now managed by Sepp's son  Nikolaus. I nice lineage there; in fact the Mosel family has been producing wine since 1848 so years of knowledge are handed down to successive generations. The nose is all floral and big, with the flavor starting as citrus, then moving to a more spicy, creamy character to finish with roasted nuts on the finish. Could be the biggest Gruner I've tasted: full of flavor, mineral depth, and a long finish. Savory is the word. I great finish to the evening. Cheers

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