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95 Parker Points

A first for me

26.11.2017

I am overjoyed to read the latest ratings in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 95 points for the 2015er Spitzerberg! That is a top score that only five red wines from Austria have achieved up to now. You can read the review here (Issue 233/October 2017).

Muhr van der Niepoort Ried Spitzerberg 2015 © Muhr-van der Niepoort

 

 

 

“The 2015 Spitzerberg is terribly deep, pure, fresh and concentrated as well as characterful on the nose, where black tea and dark cherry aromas are displayed but also fl oral aromas. On the palate this is enormously silky, juicy, deep and fresh, with perfectly ripe tannins, good freshness and breathtaking energy.

This is the richest and most complex Spitzerberg I have ever tasted.
This is such a juicy, silky, fresh and refined Blaufränkisch that cannot compete with any wine of the world because it’s in a category of its own. It’s a Spitzerberg.”

95/100

Nevertheless it is important to me to point out to the readers, that the real genius behind these wines is, quite simply, the hillside. The Spitzerberg. This is such an unbelievably distinctive, incomparable terroir, that one as a winegrower can only attempt to do everything gently, thoughtfully and correctly, in order to bring the magnificent potential of this extraordinary geographic formation into the bottle as accurately and undamaged as possible.

Muhr van der Niepoort Region Carnuntum (c) Bundesamt für Eich-und Vermessungswesen
This graphic shows the situation of the region Carnuntum: bordered on the north by the Danube River and to the southwest by the Leitha Range (where the Alps begin). Its northeastern boundary is formed by the Hainburger Hills (the initial elevations of the Lesser Carpathian Mountains, interrupted by the Danube). The Spitzerberg, upstream, is circled in red. (© Federal Authority for Measurement and Verification)

According to the folk tales, a century ago the Spitzerberg was covered with some one thousand hectares of grapevines. That is barely imaginable now, since there is just a bare 100 ha of vines growing there – and many of those I planted myself in recent years. There are currently ten winegrowers working together with me, attempting to mould the Spitzerberg into a grand cru site: Christian Dietrich, Günther Glock, Helmut Lugschitz, Johann Markowitsch, Martin Netzl, Robert Payr, Horst Pelzmann, Thomas Perger, Michaela Riedmüller and Johannes Trapl. Since nearly none of them export their wine to the USA, they end up not being ‘relevant’ for the Wine Advocate. But they most certainly are for me. Because only by working together can we accomplish our task of making the distinctive and extraordinary nature of these hillsides known. For this reason, the high ratings in the Wine Advocate count for all of us.

Lois Lammerhuber, the great landscape photographer, made a study of the Spitzerberg in autumn. This is not easily done, since the Spitz-er-berg (spitz, ‘pointed’, Berg, ‘mountain’) is neither spitz, nor is it much of a Berg. Rather, it is the elongated former shore of a long-ago sea that left behind the limestone that is largely responsible for the distinctive stylistics of the wines that are grown here in the present day. As one can clearly see from the geological illustration, the Spitzerberg is a sort of reef that lies in front of the Lesser Carpathians, and is thus rather nakedly exposed to the elements: winds, arid conditions and extremes of temperature.

Thirteen individual photographs were painstakingly knitted into a single panoramic view by Mr Lammerhuber. In the resulting image, my good friend, the gifted graphic artist Cordula Allessandri, has delineated the parcels where the individual wines are grown, and notated the scores given them by the Wine Advocate.

Every wine produced by the Muhr-van der Niepoort estate is grown on the Spitzerberg, but the differences in terroir from parcel to parcel are substantial. Additionally, grapes harvested from the lower portion of each vineyard are vinified separately. Photograph, Lois Lammerhuber. Graphics by Alessandri Design. If you click here it will open the original photo by Mr Lammerhuber. This can be sent in high resolution (>50MB).

The twelve hectares of vineyard that Muhr-van der Niepoort is currently cultivating on the Spitzerberg have been maintained by the same team for sixteen years now. With the guidance of my trusty comrade-in-arms Hans Proyer and under the patient and attentive leadership of Julianna Kaiser, the vines find themselves every further year better in balance; there is more life to the soils and the grapes become more expressive of their essential character. To practice viticulture is to enter into a contract with coming generations. One is obliged to take a great deal of time – and to take a deep breath. Nothing here changes in a hurry. And for this reason it is even more important that every single step is made in the same (and the right) direction. Since 2014, Lukas Brandstatter has been responsible for vinification. Dirk Niepoort is always available for telephone consultation and assistance. Lukas works with a great deal of respect, a great deal of awareness and much composure to accomplish the tasks that occupy a year’s time in the vineyards, to foster that which has been growing there for more than fifty years, realising the potential that was created millions of years previously by the forces of nature.

And here I must concur with Stephan Reinhardt, who for the Wine Advocate tasted the wines and wrote: “I don’t know any other Austrian red wine that tells me more about the vintage and the terroir than about the winemaker.”
All of the growers who cultivate vineyards on the Spitzerberg consciously attempt to pull back as ‘winemakers’, and give centre stage to the unmistakeable terroir of the site. We must not assume for one moment that this attitude and the stylistic excellence it has engendered will always be recognised and adequately valued. And certainly not in this age of constantly stronger, more potent, faster, higher – and cheaper! The ability to recognise and cherish the unique special character of these wines falls only to those who wish to experience a sense of ancestry and lineage in them. And for this I am extraordinarily glad.

Best regards,

Dorli Muhr

Distributors of Muhr-van der Niepoort wines are:

– Australia: Imbibo, www.imbibo.com.au
– Thailand: Fin Wine, www.fin-wine.com
– USA: Blue Danube Wine, www.bluedanubewine.com

– Belgium: Matthys Wines, www.matthys-wines.be
– Denmark: Atomwine, www.atomwine.dk
– France: Terres de Vin, www.terresdevins.com
– Germany: Weinagentur Arnold (Berlin) www.weinagenturarnold.de
Kemnitz Weinimport (Hamburg) www.kemnitz-weinimport.de, Kölner Weinkeller (Köln) www.koelner-weinkeller.de, K&M Gutsweine (Frankfurt) www.gutsweine.com, Walter&Sohn (München) www.walterundsohn.de

– Ireland: Wine Mason, www.winemason.ie
– Netherlands: Horizon Wines, www.horizonwines.com – Norway: Winetailor, www.winetailor.no
– Poland: Mielzynski, www.mielzynski.pl
– Portugal: Niepoort Vinhos, www.niepoort.pt
– Sweden: Terrific Wines, www.terrificwines.se
– Switzerland: Gerstl Weinselektion www.gerstl.ch

– Austria: Getränke Wagner www.wagners-weinshop.com, Wein&Co, www.weinco.at

PICTURES (downloadable)