I’ve realized that I haven’t written a proper summary of my impressions from the European wine bloggers conference (EWBC 2010) in Vienna last fall. The main reason for me to go to a conference or an event of this kind, besides the wine, is the possibility of new meetings. We met lots of friendly, dedicated and interesting people – all with a love and passion for wine in common. Most were bloggers, some professionals through journals, importers and wineries others are blogging out of interest, as I do. Not all participants were bloggers, or at least not just bloggers, there were plenty of winemakers, sommeliers, chefs, oenologists, students, importers, wine merchants, journalists, etc. there as well.
Instead of a summery, I present two young Austrian winemakers that we met and hung out with during our stay in Vienna. Both are also active on the Internet – so please visit and bookmark them!
We met Franz Schneider from Artisan Wine already on the pre-party for the EWBC to which he had with him a couple of toys in a bottle – a merlot that’s not yet in production – a bottle sample. Currently he only got a few barrels of this. He’s testing the grapes to find how to best use it, from the taste a pure merlot wouldn’t be a bad choise. It was fun that he brought it with him, some might think it an odd way to present a winery, maybe so, but it got to be a great starter as it was a great way to break the ice – and though not a finished product it still was great experience. He also had with him a pure Welschriesling 2010, which was barely a week old in the bottle – it was young, acidy, fresh, but particularly young – fun to taste but I would let rest for some time before really enjoying it.
Franz belongs to the newer generation winemaker. He runs the vineyard with his parents, whom I never met, Frank senior, and Maria. The name Artisan comes from the Italian word artigiano and intend at ensuring winemaking as a craft and an art. They work hard to let the wines speak for themselves and for their region. With traditional craftsmanship and with great respect for the environment they aim to create wines that through this become expressive wines with a distinct terroir.
Besides the barrel sample and the infant Welschriesling Franz also brought with him a couple of bottles of wine that was more ready to drink. The wines we did try were really nice and showed of both experimental lust and know-how. A wine that we enjoyed was the Artisan Halbturn Red (2008?). I have no notes on this wine because Franz smuggled it in one of the parties in connection with the EWBC – it is a St. Laurent wine and has that Pinot Noir tone that is a little wild untamed, rustic yet elegant that I found likable in many Austrian St Laurent wines.
Franz will, I hope, come to Sweden during the spring and hopefully bring some wine.
Franz also have a wine blog: The Franz Schneider Wine experinece
Another young interesting and nice Austrian winemaker is Gottfried Lamprecht who runs the vineyard Herrehhof Lamprecht. Gottfried was also at the EWBC preparty at Schwedenpaltz and we met thereafter several times during the conference.
The Herrenhof winery was owned by the monastery in Vorau. They used the land for vineyards and the fields for agriculture. In the late 19th century the vineyards were abandoned. In 2005 Gottfried and his parents began to recreate the slopes in the area to a traditional wineyard and winery.
With traditional methods they want to work as natural as possible. The wines are organic and Herrenhof use and want the nature of the environment, animals, insects and various herbs to interact with the wine yard – all to get as natural as possible. It gives the wines a natural soul and is an important part of the terroir. They use no pesticides, only natural fertilizers and no synthetic additives ever to achieve a balance between nature and cultivation.
Gottfried wants to create something unique, something his own and has therefore set up 10 rules that acts as a quality certificate – a promise to the consumer. The idea is that the wine must be grown naturally in a pristine environment. Gottfried call this the Herrenhof Charta. By reporting how he chooses to make the wine and how the process looks like he gives us a chance to understand the idea behind his wines. Read more here:
- Grapes only come from the Buchertberg Vineyard (origin guaranteed)
- Plant protection and soil management by certified organic production rules
- Maximum yield 45 hl/ha
- The characteristics of the vineyard and vintage have to be in the wine.
- Fermentation with indigenous yeast from the vineyard, earliest bottling in April next year, the wine will be on market at May 1st.
- No additives including aromas, sulphur in small amount, and no concentration of must or wine, no spinning cone column
- Back to the roots by using traditional wine growing techniques: like long yeast contact and as possible infiltrated bottling.
- Maintenance and advancement of soil fertility and soil life
- Advancement of the vineyard diversity (animals and plants)
- 100 % free of genetic engineering
To the EWBC preparty Gottfried brought with him a bottle of Herrefhof Lamprecht Buchertberg 2009, just as in the previous cases, I have no real notes but only a few scribbled words. Dry, crisp, high acidity, elegance mixed with complexity. Yellow fruits, citrus, apple, exotic fruits with a nice nutty tone. Very nice!
On his blog you can follow the adventures on a vineyard and get a close understanding of what lies behind the decisions. For now, they are in the process of breaking up an old apple orchard in order to expand the vineyard – in the spring we will see what wines he choose. It can not be idle in the winter, his latest project is to make their own oak barrels, of the oak trees from his own land – this can be followed on his blog and on his video blog. It will be interesting to follow this project. When I talked to the winemakers at Esterházy they mentioned that there was too much tannin in the native oaks and that they therefore preferred French oak in their barrels. I hope the project goes well. If nothing else it is very interesting to follow the process and see where it goes.
At the moment, these wines are not available in Sweden, but if you get the opportunity to try them, these are good examples of the new Austria – good quality mixed with personality, love of wine and craftsmanship. If you compare them with each other, they have several common denominators, both see winemaking as a craft, are environmentally conscious and both seeks to make wine in a natural way. Despite this the wines do differ from each other, which shows the ability to make wines that reflect the personalities.
It is meetings like these that make it incredibly rewarding to go to events like the EWBC and the like. You get friends, you make contacts and you learn a lot about both the process behind the wines but also about the ideas and people behind the wines. If you fancy going – take this opportunity, I can only recommend you to book it immediately! Me and my partner, Anne, has booked our seats and look forward to EWBC 2011 in Franciacorta, Italy, and new meetings with old and new acquaintances.