Austria’s Talented New Winemakers

While traveling around Austria meeting winemakers and tasting wine for our recently published report Austrian Wine: Diverse Terroir, Exceptional Quality, we met the new generation that has entered Austria’s wine industry in recent years. They work in various capacities, although most have either work experience or academic training in winemaking. Some of them are the most recent generation to assume the leadership of established family estates. Others are starting out from scratch, purchasing fruit or acquiring small vineyards. In what follows, we present some of the most distinguished members of Austria’s new wine generation and give examples of the fine wines they are crafting. Reviews of all the wines of these exciting winemakers are in the full report, available at www.iwinereview.com

The Winemakers

Georg Frischengruber (Wachau)  Beginning in 2011, Georg Frischengruber is the 5thgeneration of his family to make wine at the village of Rossatz on the right bank of the Danube in the Wachau. After schooling at Klosterneuburg, Georg made wine in South Africa and New Zealand before returning home. He uses ambient yeasts with extended aging on the fine lees and avoids botrytis in the pursuit of precise, focused wines.  US Importer: Schatzi Wine

Frischengruber 2016 Riesling Ried Goldberg Smaragd Wachau 92 Pure scents of orchard and ripe stone fruit with a note of tangerine zest. It’s an elegant wine, full bodied with succulent apricot and nuances of tropical fruit and bay leaf and a focused finish revealing rich extract and lingering mineral notes.


Ingrid Groiss (Weinviertel) While she didn’t set out to become a winemaker, Ingrid Groiss soon returned to her family’s roots in the Weinviertel, enrolled in a winemaking program, took over the farming of her grandmother’s 50 year old white field blend vineyard, and soon began making all the family’s wines, earning plaudits from critics for her expressive, refined Grüner Veltliner and Gemischter Satz wines.  US Importer: Circo Vino

Groiss 2016 Gruner Veltliner in der Schablau Weinviertel ($34) 93 Light straw. Made from 50 year old vines, this Gruner Veltliner offers scents of fresh tobacco and green peppercorn. Showing surprising mineral like density on the mid palate, it is a harmonious, elegant wine that should evolve beautifully. Finishes with a rich, stony extract.


Jutta Ambrositsch (Wien)  Originally a graphic designer, Jutta Ambrositsch pursued her passion for winemaking in 2005 and began making traditionally crafted wines from vineyards located on both sides of the Danube. Her speciality is Vienna’s Gemischter Satz white field blend.

Ambrositsch 2017 Gemischter Satz Ringelspiel Wien  92  Complex and vibrant, this cofermented white field blend of 12 different varieties planted in 1952 offers subtle herbal and honeyed aromas that carry over to an elegant, layered palate with expressive minerality Jutta gives this wine 36 hours of skin contact. Low in alcohol, like most her wines. Ringelspiel is in Vienna’s Sievering district.


Maria and Andreas Harm (Kremstal) Andreas studied business at IMC-Krems and Maria earned a degree in psychology at the University of Vienna, but after helping out in Andreas’ parent’s winery for several years, Maria and Andreas Harm had the opportunity to acquire some prime, single vineyards in the Wachau and Kremstal in 2010. So they took the leap and started their own winery with a focus on sustainable viticulture and making balanced, low alcohol wines expressive of their terroir.  They’ve followed organic practices since the beginning, and their wines are simply outstanding. US Importer: David Bowler

Harm 2016 Grüner Veltliner Ried Wachtberg Kremstal  92 Generous aromas of lychee, white peach and flinty minerals. Big and full on the palate with a creamy texture and tangy acidity. The oak that shows on the palate will need 2-3 years to fully integrate. From 60+ year old vines growing on loess and granite. Matured 18 months in 60L barrels. An unbottled sample of the 2017 vintage was also tasted, and it promises to be even better than the 2016. 13.5% alc.


Peter Artner (Carnuntum)Peter Artner studied winemaking in Krems and did an internship with Gerhard Markowitsch in  Göttlesbrunn. In 2009 he assumed the winemaking responsibilities from his father Hannes and introduced numerous improvements. In 2018 the winery began the certification process for organic viticulture.  US Importer: Vintage Epicure

Artner 2015 Blaufrankisch Kirchweingarten Reserve Carnuntum ($55) 94 The 2015 Blaufrankisch Kirchweingarten is a dark brooding wine offering aromas and flavors of black cherry, spice and earth. Aged 48-50 months in new French oak, it shows amazing extract and structure, firm round tannins and a persistent finish with mineral notes.


Markus Huber (Traisental) A graduate of the vocational school for winemaking (HLBA) in Kosterneuberg, Markus Huber did wine internships around the world, including Brundlmayer and Jurtschitsch in Austria and Kaapzicht and Spice Route in South Africa, before taking over his parents Traisental winery in 2000 and making it the flagship winery of the region. US Importer: Broadbent Selections

Huber 2016 Riesling Ried Berg 1ÖWT Traisental ($75) 93 The east facing, steeply terraced Ried Berg Riesling is a wine that will benefit greatly from some cellar age. In its youth, it offers somewhat reticent citrus and floral scents. The palate is tangy and fresh with good concentration of fruit and a firm mineral structure. Finishes with bright citrus acidity and tinges of minerality. Decant if the wine is to be drunk young.


Stefanie and Alwin Jurtschitsch (Kamptal) Management of the family owned Weingut Jurtschitsch passed in 2006 from the three Jurtschitsch brothers to Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife Stefanie Hasselbach. They are leaders in the natural wine movement in the Kamptal, and they seek to make restrained, terroir driven wines. They’ve also begun making a line of natural, skin macerated wines. US Importer: David Bowler

Jurtschitsch 2016 Grüner Veltliner Ried Lamm 1ÖWT Kamptal  93 Similar in its perfumed refinement to the Ried Schenkenbichl, the Ried Lamm Grüner offers somewhat richer apricot and spice flavors and pleasantly integrated acidity. Finishes rich and long. Also aged 10 months in used oak. We also tasted the 2010 vintage of this wine, a rainy and cool year, that has matured gracefully. It’s now very rich and creamy but also focused with a firm mineral structure. An outstanding, older wine, it suggests that the 2016 Ried Lamm may eventually warrant an even more positive evaluation.


Katharina Lackner (Sudsteiermark) In 2014 Katharina Lackner, daughter of Wilma Lackner and Fritz Tinnacher, took over the management of the family winery. With a background in plant sciences, she immediately converted the vineyards to organic farming. Under her direction, the winery continues its rise to the top tier of Styrian wineries. US Importer: MS Walker

Lackner-Tinnacher 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Ried Welles GSTK Südsteiermark  93 Coaxing aromas of honeyed citrus with an attack of creamy oak and optimally ripened yellow and orange citrus fruit. Offers a focused palate with juicy acidity and a stone-like minerality on the finish. The 510m high, east facing Ried Welles soils are gravel conglomerate. The grapes are hand picked, macerated on the skins for 24 hours, gently pressed, fermented and aged in large wooden casks for 18 months.


Christoph Polz (Sudsteiermark) Christoph Polz is the young man who recently assumed the winemaker mantel at the outstanding Polz winery in Südsteiermark. He is the son of Erich Polz, the former winemaker who built the winery with his brother Walter. US Importer: Morandell

Polz 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Ried Hochgrassnitzberg GSTK Südsteiermark  92 The Ried Hochgrassnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc offers a nose of ripe lychee and citrus with a hint of flinty minerals. The palate is rich and creamy and full in the mouth with nuances of white stone fruit, garden herbs, and minerals. Matured 1 year in 500L used barrels. The 2016 frost reduced yields by 70 percent. We also tasted the 2015 vintage of this wine, which is similarly refined but more expressive. We rate it about 1 point higher than the 2016 vintage.


Georg Prieler (Leithaberg) After attending the wine college VinoHAK in Neusiedl, Georg Prieler began traveling and working abroad, in London, Berkeley California, New Zealand and Argentina. In 2012 he took over the winemaking responsibilities at Weingut Prieler from his sister Silvia.  US Importer: Skurnik

Prieler 2015 Blaufrankisch Ried Goldberg Leithaberg  95 The Prieler 2015 Blaufrankisch Ried Goldberg is an extraordinary wine from one of Austria’s historic vineyards established by Cistercian monks dating back to the 16th century. It is an elegant, light styled perfumy wine with concentrated flavors of black cherry and plum. It is full and round on the palate with firm tannins and a long finish.


Hannes Reeh (Neusiedlersee) Hannes Reeh studied at the Klosterneuberg wine school and worked at Nittnaus in Gols and in Australia before returning home to take the helm of the family winery in Andau in far eastern Austria in 2007. He is an ambassador for the Zweigelt grape variety. US Importer: SoilAir Selection

Hannes Reeh 2015 Zweigelt Unplugged Burgenland 92  An outstanding Zweigelt with good fruity intensity and hints of toasted oak. It’s soft and round on the palate with gentle tannins, excellent depth of flavor and a long, spicy finish. The Reeh family converted from general farming to winegrowing in 1996. The winery and its 75 ha of vineyards are located in Andau near the Hungarian border in the far eastern part of the country and is the warmest and driest village in all of Austria. Hannes Reeh became lead winemaker in 2007 and built a new winery in 2011. Zweigelt is his specialty, and it represents 60% of his vineyards. US Importer:  SoilAir Selection   


Dominque and Urban Stagard (Kremstal) Dominique and Urban Stagard became the 7thgeneration of Stagards to make wine when they took over this historic estate from Urban’s parents in 2008. At the time Urban was just 30; he studied winemaking in Krems. They immediately converted to organic viticulture with the goal of making authentic wines.  US Importer: Schatzi Wines

Stagard Lesehof 2017 Riesling 501 Reserve Kremstal ($75) 93 Made of selected, late harvested grapes from the best vineyard parcels and fermented and matured in 500L barrels, the 501 Riesling is richly aromatic and densely flavored, showing light honeyed stone fruit complemented by citrus and salty minerals and notes of riper peach. Superb, long finish.


Johannes Trapl (Carnuntum) Johannes Trapl makes wine in the village of Stixneusidl in Carnuntum, having founded the winery in 2000   with grapes from organically farmed family vineyards. He studied viticulture at Klosterneuburg and then worked at Cardinale in the Napa Valley and Muhr-van der Niepoort in Carnuntum before starting his own operation. He is an experimental winemaker who foot-stomps grapes and uses amphora in winemaking.  US Importer: Blue Danube

Johannes Trapl 2016 St. Laurent Reserve Carnuntum  91 The 2015 St. Laurent Reserve has a lovely red fruited nose of pomegranate, red berries and a touch of rose petals. It reveals bright acidity on the attack with very pure flavors on the palate. To preserve delicacy and refinement in the wine, Trapl used partial foot trodding to crush the grapes and kept them on the skin in 500 L Burgundy barrels. This special handling has resulted in a wine of outstanding purity and length.


Andreas Wickhoff (Kamptal) Andreas Wickhoff MW has been General Manager of Weingut Bründlmayer since 2016. In 2012 he became one of Austria’s three masters of wine. He holds degrees in tourism and hospitality management from Bad Gleichenberg, Austria, and Martin College in Brisbane, Australia, and was previously managing director for a group of premium wineries in Austria. He also worked as sommelier in Corsica and Vail, Colorado, and serves as judge for the Decanter World Wine Awards.  US Importer: Skurnik

Bründlmayer NV Brut Reserve Niederösterreich ($45) 92 The Brut Reserve is bright and light, showing pear and yeasty notes on the nose and palate. Precise and rich on the palate. A blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner aged 2 years on the lees with 6.8 g/L RS. The base wine was aged in all stainless steel. Just 11.5% alc.


Source : http://i-winereview.com/blog/index.php/2019/01/11/austrias-talented-new-winemakers/