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The white alternative

White wines from Hannes Sabathi in the Südsteiermark


When the temperatures outside grow colder and one enjoys spending time indoors, it is natural to reach for a more robust wine. And for many people, ‘powerful’ means the same thing as ‘simple’… But there are exciting white alternatives, which are capable of uniting power with elegance in a synthesis of the arts. Winegrower Hannes Sabathi from Austria’s Südsteiermark just happens to have two like that on hand.

CH Jägerberg © Weingut H. Sabathi

Chardonnay Jägerberg 2015

The secret behind this wine lies in the soil of the vineyard Jägerberg, where the mixture of sand, loam and limestone (chalky marl) imparts an elegant Burgundian spiciness to Chardonnay from the south-facing site. The twenty-year-old vines are deeply rooted, providing firm and mineral-driven body, as well as bringing depth and a sense of repose to the wine. This Chardonnay was matured in large wooden casks (1,500L) for thirteen months – time that the wine needs in order to realise its potential and faithfully express the character of the site. Supple opulence persists on the palate, as aromas of yellow tropical fruit and pine cones round out the pleasurable experience with a long finish. Thanks to its spice and concentrated structure, the Chardonnay Jägerberg pairs quite well with traditional ‘red wine’ dishes like lamb or wild game, or perhaps roasts served with robust sauces.

GM Natural © Weingut H. Sabathi

Muskateller Natural 2015

One does not meet a Muskateller like this one every day… Sabathi admits, with a grin: These wines don’t pass the government inspection… And that is fine with him, because he is set on experimenting without any compromise, determining where potential lies and vinifying that which the vintage makes possible. His Gelber Muskateller Natural 2015 – grapes harvested exclusively from the top vineyard site Kranachberg – fermented for four weeks on the skins, and then spent fourteen months on the lees in cask. No sulphur and no filtration – bottled in its natural state. The Muskateller aromatics are typical for the variety, although on the palate the wine shows as great a sense of presence as it does an expression of elegance, thanks to the robust tannins and dynamic structure. This Muskateller offers a marvellous accompaniment to spicy Asian dishes.

Available at
Chardonnay Jägerberg 2015 (PLN 132,90) and Gelber Muskateller Natural 2015 (PLN 114,70) are available from winemates. Lopuszanska St. #36,, +48 888 235 359.

Hannes Sabathi: “It is the soil that imparts the character to each wine that makes it distinctive and unmistakeable. I find this fascinating. This is where I find the truth in the wine.” © Manfred Klimek

About Weingut Hannes Sabathi
The Sabathi with the roots, he is frequently called. That has something to do, of course, with the visual appearance of his labels, but there is a far deeper truth hidden here. Hannes Sabathi gets excited about soils. He has dug holes all over his vineyards and investigated the earth, in order to better understand the interplay of soil and grape variety. He tells us: It is the soil that imparts the character to each wine that makes it distinctive and unmistakeable. I find this fascinating. This is where I find the truth in the wine.