From vines grown on soils composed of loam and chalk with organic treatments. The grapes were hand-harvested at the end of August in the cool morning hours. 100% whole bunch pressed without the addition of sulfur, then racked into stainless steel using natural indigenous yeasts. Spontaneous Fermentation in stainless steel. Aged for 6 months in amphora. No sulfur added at any point, not filtered.
Farming: practicing biodynamic
There is a simple and honest feeling in the wine and spirit of Gerhard Pittnauer which hails from his generosity and humility. Given the reins of his vineyard in the mid-1980’s after the unexpected death of his father, Gerhard, then 18 years old, had to train himself to make wine in the midst of scandal and chaos in the Austrian wine market. He chose to become a student of the broader wine world, and, in realizing the exceptionality of the land he farmed and of the indigenous grapes of the region, allowed himself to experiment with some missteps until he found his thesis.
He set forth to ‘grow’ wine rather than to ‘make’ it in the cellar, from the autochtone varietals. He did so without any viticultural doctrine until he found that there was a consistent, common thread in the wines he loved to drink from France and elsewhere. If, he thought, these wines were amazing because of biodynamics, then he must do the same to achieve the pinnacle in his own wine.
So he tends 15 hectares, half of which he owns and half of which he rents, alongside his wife Brigitte to create what they call living wines. All work is done manually from composting to pruning. There is no calendar that drives them. Nothing is rushed: they believe in quality over speed. They taste for perfect ripeness, select the cleanest grapes, and begin the wine in the cellar in response to the conditions of the vintage.
Gerhard and Brigitte are aware of the evolution of their tastes as well as the vineyard’s. They are students presenting the current findings. Not with proud declaration, but with excited experimental energy to get the best of what they have. So far, it is delicious research.
St. Laurent (10%)
Blaufrankisch is grown across central Europe and is primarily found in the central European countries of Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Slovakia.
This variety was first documented in the 18th century in Austria. At that time, in what was then Germany, it had the name of Lemberger or Limberger, which was derived from the town of Limberg – today Maissau – in Niederösterreich. In Hungary known as Kékfrankos.It was used as a crossing partner for Austrian new breeds like Zweigelt, Blauburger, Roesler and Rathay. Blaufränkisch is found especially in the wine-growing regions of northern, middle and southern Burgenland as well as in eastern Niederösterreich.
St. Laurent is a black grape variety long thought to be related to Pinot Noir and is most commonly encountered in Austria where it is known as Sankt Laurent. It is capably of producing deep-colored, velvety reds with sufficient concentration to merit ageing in oak and then bottle. St. Laurent wine can resemble a powerful Pinot Noir. It is known in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as Svatovavrinecke and it one of their most planted red wine grapes.
Zweigelt is Austria's most popular dark-berried rape variety planted on over 16,000 acres. The cross was bred relatively recently in 1922 by Dr. Zweigelt at the Klosterneuburg research station. It is a cross between Blaufrankish and St. Laurent that combines some of the bite of the first with the elegance of the second. It is widely grown throughout all Austrian wine regions and can be made into a serious, age-worthy, exhuberantly fruity wine, although most examples are best drunk young.
Region: Neusiedlersee DAC
The Neusiedlersee DAC region comprises the political district of Neusiedl am See, with the exception of the municipalities Winden and Jois. It extends from the north side to the east bank of Lake Neusiedl and has a vineyard area of 16,474 acres of which about 4,500 are planted with Austria's most widespread red wine variety Zweigelt. With this, it is the most expansive area with wines of protected origin in Burgenland. The terroir is characterised by sandy, loamy soils with variable admixtures of gravel. There are also limestone-rich gravel soils, as well as limestone-poor pure gravel soils, ranging across the spectrum to salty and light, sandy soils.
The winegrowing region sits right in the heart of the Pannonian climate zone, characterised by hot, dry summers with moderate rainfall and cold winters with little snow. An important influence upon microclimate is exerted by Lake Neusiedl, the largest steppe lake in Central Europe. In summer, the large water surface heats up and then slowly releases the stored warmth into the surroundings at night. The slight nocturnal reduction in temperature promotes the development of cool fruit and maintains the necessary acidity that distinguishes the wines.
Tasting: Passionfruit, Guava, Strawberry, Rhubarb
Pairings: pool day