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28 - 11
2011

PREMIUM ESTATES OF AUSTRIA The 2011 Vintage

 


Dear Peter!

The most crucial days during the year for the Austrian wine growers are over. The sorting tables and presses were put away substantially earlier than in most other vintages and several of the 2011 white wines have already been or will be released very soon.

Although some cool winter days and nights damaged several of our vines, the overall yield in 2011 comes close to a normal vintage. This is mainly due to a sunny flowering period which happened incredibly early this year and a beautiful, warm late summer which delivered a satisfying ripening phase. The early flowering made us think that we will have an even earlier start of the harvest period but a rather cool, unexciting July slowed down the growth. Yet, then came an extended period of dry, warm weather which gave the growers the luxury to pick at leisure. Heike Heinrich considers 2011 " the most relaxed harvest " they ever had. Overall, 2011 will also be remembered by little fungal disease pressure in the vineyards and a rather severe wasp infestation.

According to Alois Gölles, also the fruit crop in 2011 is very satisfactory. Southeast Styria, the fruit orchard center of Austria and home of the gourmet pioneer, yielded a promising qualitative and quantitative apple harvest, the region's most important fruit.

Gernot Heinrich and his crew started as early as August 30th this year with picking some of the early-ripeners such as Zweigelt and St. Laurent; Pinot Noir followed shortly thereafter and tasting the pre-fermenting juice of this fickle grape showed perfumed aromatics of red berries and lots of delicacy. The grapes from the Leithaberg vineyards were picked later and the harvest came to an end on October 6. Apart from some spring frosts in May in the vineyards around Gols, Gernot and his crew were extremely happy with this year's ripening phases as well as the harvest. A high physiological ripeness as well as a loose berry structure were the result in the end.

The wines in Fred Loimer's cellar are fermenting well and due to starting and ending the harvest practically a month earlier than in a normal year, some 2011s will still be released before Christmas. For Fred, the only issue in 2011 seemed to be the dryness for some of the younger vines. With an overall precipitation from January to September of 300mm, the roots had to search deep in order to get enough water.

Fritz Wieninger has had another challenging year behind him. Not that another hail storm came over his precious Nussberg vineyards but this time, the construction work for his new press house and cellar facilities severely damaged the historical, 300-year old maturation cellar as it partially collapsed and put the building work on hold. While he had hoped to be completed with the new buildings before the harvest, Fritz had to use all his improvisation skills as he could only partially use the new facilities. All the wines, however, were pressed there and this was already a luxury for Fritz as he now uses two presses instead of one, giving him a lot more flexibility.

In Gamlitz, the harvest started on Sep 10th in Willi Sattler's vineyards and the vintage itself will be remembered by lots of sunshine and favourable temperature and precipitation conditions. Fortunately, only few vineyards were affected by hail and most of the sites yielded outstanding quality. Therefore, Willi and Maria's team did not have much to sort out and their oldest son, Andreas, was already conducting the cellar work under the auspices of his father. The new generation is coming afore!

As it looks for now, 2011 will bring wines with a more balanced acidity than 2010 and a very approachable fruit character but as always, it is still too early to see the real face behind the wines just now.

Following are further exciting news from our producers:

proud to pour our treasures in Zalto glasses

 

 


Alois' quest for fruit of the highest quality was slightly easier this year due to the sunny, rather mild and warm weather which prevailed throughout most of the spring and summer. This made it less difficult for the fruit orchardists to bring in ripe, healthy fruit which was then processed further to either gourmet vinegar or fine brandy.

This past October, the Openhouse Gallery in New York hosted an Austrian pop-up shop, which gave visitors a glimpse into what they could experience in terms of art, food, tours, culture, hotels, festivals, museums, and outdoor spaces if they visited Austria. The interactive part of the exhibit featured a few "Austrian goodies" of which our vinegars were thoroughly enjoyed.

For the appealing "spice ship", a gift carton box has now been created. Attractively designed as ever, this is a wonderful Christmas idea for the gourmet aficionado.

The apricot and quince vinegars are now also available in the practical spray bottle!

 

 


Most of the top 2009 wines (except Gabarinza; please bear with us until summer 2012!) have now been released and all of them show extreme finesse, expressive, multilayered fruit and present, tightly-woven tannins. For many, 2009 is regarded as the greatest red wine vintage in the 2000s in Austria and Gernot's wines support this statement largely. The recent addition to the portfolio, Blaufränkisch Leithaberg DAC (a promising 92pts from the Wine Enthusiast) proves that this vintage is full of purity, sense of place and depth. The Wine Gang's 91 points for the 2009 Zweigelt also shows the quality potential of the classic wines. Another premiere for the estate is the soon-to-be-released 2010 Beerenauslese vom Gabarinza & Salzberg, an intriguing sweet delicacy. Make sure to let us know if you like to get more details about this unique wine.

 

 

 

Thankfully, some of the 2011 wines will soon be available due to the early harvest. The 2011 Grüner Veltliner LOIS will be released in the first weeks of December and by December 12, Grüner Veltliner Kamptal DAC 2011 will start to be sold. In its 12th vintage, LOIS displays lots of structure and depth aside from its freshness, undermining the quest for prime quality in the affordable segment and setting itself apart from the soulless "Grooners" of this world. The Wine Advocate's David Schildknecht recently reviewed several of Fred's 2010s. Here are some highlights:

Käferberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal DAC Reserve:

89-90 pts

Riesling Kamptal DAC LENZ:

88 pts

Riesling Terrrassen Kamptal DAC Reserve:

90 pts

Seeberg Riesling Kamptal DAC Reserve:

90-91 pts


The Loimer team and we all are extremely proud to report that the estate was named a "Winery of the Year" by US Wine & Spirits magazine. Their panels and critics tasted 10,600 wines to select 100 Wineries of the Year from across the globe.

 

 


With the Steirischer Junker 2011, the most successful young wine from Austria, Maria & Willi's new vintage is already being enjoyed locally. Ever since its release, the 2011 vintage of Cuvée vom Sand will have the highest proportion of Sauvignon Blanc. This will provide even more character and purity without losing the freshness and crisp elements. Lots of Sauvignon at an affordable price!

Now comes the time of the year, however, where the Kranachberg's (2009) and the Pfarrweingarten's (2007) offer absolute drinking pleasure with pure aromatics, great fruit concentration and persistence on the palate.

The Sattler's oldest son, Andreas, currently studying at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, has joined the Premium Estates - team to assist in presenting the treasures of our growers across the globe while Alexander, Andreas' brother, has made his own first wine this year. He sourced it from the Jägerberg, a neighbouring site of the Kranachberg that he looked after himself for the entire year.

 

 


A very early start of the harvest was needed in the biodynamically-farmed vineyards around Gumpoldskirchen as the grapes appeared ripe and would have lost too much acidity if the team waited longer. First trials in the cellar reveal high aromatics with vivid white stone fruit and spice in the Zierfandler and Rotgipfler wines and pure, delicate red fruit (cherry, raspberry) characters in the Pinot Noirs and St. Laurents. Fred has worked intensively this year on defining his Pinot Noirs more and seems to be well on track - the wines in the cellar show great depth, multi-facetted fruit notes and a lingering finish. Changing the de-stemming regime (now partly whole clusters are used) and adjusting the pre-fermentation maceration methods can already be retraced.

 

 

 

The 2011 vintage will be the first fully biodynamically certified vintage after the 3-year transitional phase and thankfully also one where the yield and not only the quality were satisfactory. The 2011 Wiener Gemischter Satz as well as the Grüner Veltliner Vienna Hills are already available and undermine the apparent approachability of this vintage: juicy, lively, refreshing with depth.

The mere 4000 bottles of the 2010 Nussberg Alte Reben (89-90+ pts by The Wine Advocate) have just been released and offers an incredible, multilayered complexity that reminds you of a great Burgundy. Other highlights of David Schildknecht's recent 2010 reviews:

Grüner Veltliner Kaasgraben:

89 pts

Grüner Veltliner Preussen:

92 pts

Riesling Nussberg:

90 pts

Rosengartl Alte Reben:

92-93 pts

 

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2011
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2011
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