Wine Enthusiast recommends:
Three Austrians that one should lay down
The critics from US magazine Wine Enthusiast tasted 23,000 wines this year.
They recommend 100 of them as ‘Cellar Selections’ – wines that one acquires now but does not yet drink, allowing them rather a few more years to rest and develop in dark cool cellars, because they grant a foretaste of their great potential but do not yet realise it entirely.
Extremely small yields on dry limestone soils & great exposure to the wind: Blaufränkisch vines on the Spitzerberg (C) Lois Lammerhuber
Château Lafite-Rothschild 2015 leads the ranks of the great and prominent wine estates whose bottles you should secure for yourself.
A total of three wines from Austria are named on the Wine Enthusiast’s list of the Top 100 Cellar Selections:
• 2015 Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese Nr. 4 from Weingut Kracher, Neusiedlersee
• 2016 Grüner Veltliner Kellerberg Smaragd from Weingut FX Pichler, Wachau
and as a third, a red wine:
• 2015 Blaufränkisch Ried Spitzerberg from Muhr-van der Niepoort in Carnuntum
• ‘It is now clear to all experts that white wines from Austria figure among the international elite. And nobly sweet wines have of course already won their place,’ says Dorli Muhr. ‘But just imagine now a red wine from Austria – and vinified from the regional variety Blaufränkisch! Chosen as number 47 out of the top 100 wines in the world; this is an award not only for our estate but also for all of Austria’s red wine producers’.
• Wine critic Anne Krebiehl MW writing about the Blaufränkisch Ried Spitzerberg 2015:
Highly aromatic notions of cinnamon-dusted blueberry and plum rise from the glass. The richness of that scent is countered by ample freshness on the palate, which gives clean delineation to the fruit flavors and precision to the body. Right now, this is taut but flavors run deep. There seems to be a floral core of peony and berry that still needs to unfold—elegance and depth are to come. Drink 2022–2035.
Ried Spitzerberg is planted to the indigenous variety Blaufrankisch, with vines some sixty years of age.
Weingut Muhr-van der Niepoort was founded by Carnuntum native Dorli Muhr together with Dirk Niepoort on the Spitzerberg. ‘The first few years were anything but easy’, says Dorli Muhr, ‘because the Spitzerberg is just as unknown in Austria as it is in the world outside, and I first had to struggle with the inevitable prejudices against a woman from the marketing sector. Meanwhile, however, word has gotten around that my wines are the anything but superficial. And it’s normal anyway that recognition is more quickly obtained abroad than it is in one’s own land’!
Dorli Muhr treads the best grapes with her own two feet. She learned to do this in Portugal. (C) Herbert Lehmann
The most meagre yields, a strong focus on Blaufränkisch
The Spitzerberg is located in the winegrowing region Carnuntum and is geologically part of the Lesser Carpathian Range. The southern slope of the hillside is planted to the vine. It is an extremely dry and hot location with soils composed of calcareous sand, where the constant winds demand great resistance and resilience from the vines. The yield per hectare is less than 3000 kilos, and even lower from the old vines. The Muhr-van der Niepoort estate was certified organic as of the 2018 harvest, and now cultivates twelve hectares, of which 80% are planted to Blaufränkisch. All of its vineyards are located exclusively in Prellenkirchen on the Spitzerberg.
Along with the
– Ried Spitzerberg (from Blaufränkisch vines some sixty years old) Muhr-van der Niepoort also produces
– Blaufränkisch »Liebkind« (young vines from a single parcel at high elevation), as well as
– Blaufränkisch »Samt & Seide« (velvet & silk), vinified from about thirty-year-old vines.
The entire list of ‘Top 100 Cellar Selections 2018’ from Wine Enthusiast can be found here.
Blaufränkisch »Liebkind« is harvested from a parcel with extreme exposure, all the way up atop the Spitzerberg. The grapes are very small, and the yield is less than 1,000 kilogrammes per hectare. A highly concentrated wine that demands years of cellaring.
Blaufränkisch »Samt & Seide« comes from vines about thirty years of age. It is a wonderfully well balanced wine; elegant, tightly woven and light on its feet, as the name implies.
Weingut Dorli Muhr
A small parcel on the Ried Roterd is the heart of the whole project. This vineyard was a wedding gift to Dorli’s grandmother Katharina Muhr in 1912. In 2002 – and together with her then husband Dirk van der Niepoort – Dorli Muhr started the renaissance of the Spitzerberg. The project has developed steadily since then. Dorli Muhr now cultivates twelve hectares of vineyards on the Spitzerberg, practicing organic viticulture. The yields are quite meagre and the wines extremely concentrated; thanks to the limestone soils they are elegant and graceful as well.