Nigl Gruner Veltliner Privat 2004
Martin practices sustainable farming, never using herbicides or insecticides, plants cover crops of legumes and herbs, and avoids copper, a mainstay in the biodynamic arsenal, but which he considers detrimental to his vines’ vitality, and harmful to the soil.
In the cellar, Nigl works almost exclusively in stainless steel, never de-stems, uses only ambient yeasts, settles musts by gravity only, racks twice and never fines before bottling. The resulting wines are some of the most crystalline, transcendent bottlings in the portfolio.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of any curious wine drinker. A rather cool and dry wine growing region, this country produces wine that is quintessentially European in style: food-friendly with racy acidity, moderate alcohol and fresh fruit flavors.
Austria’s viticultural history is rich and vast, dating back to Celtic tribes with first written record of winemaking starting with the Romans. But the 20th century brought Austria a series of winemaking obstacles, namely the plunder of both world wars, as well as its own self-imposed quality breach. In the mid 1980s, after a handful of shameless vintners were found to have added diethylene glycol (a toxic substance) to their sweet wines to imitate the unctuous qualities imparted by botrytis, Austria’s credibility as a wine-producing country was compromised. While no one was harmed, the incident forced the country to rebound and recover stronger than ever. By the 1990s, Austria was back on the playing field with exports and today is prized globally for its quality standards and dedication to purity and excellence.
Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and herbal, peppery aromatics, is Austria's most important white variety, comprising nearly a third of Austrian plantings. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry and are full of bright citrus flavors and good acidity. Red varietal wines include the tart and peppery Zweigelt, spicy and dense Blaufränkisch and juicy Saint Laurent. These red varieties are also sometimes blended.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important and most planted white grape. Somm Secret—About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.