Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Riesling 2013
Schloss Gobelsburg maintains a large number of parcels in Erste Lagen, or 1st Growth, vineyards in the Kamptal, including the mineral-rich, crystalline slopes of the Gaisberg and Heiligenstein planted to Riesling, and the deep loess soils of Renner, Grub, and Lamm planted to Grüner Veltliner. The winery continues to utilize organic winegrowing and has benefited from the fact that the monks of Zwettl Monastery began these practices as early as 1958.
While many international cellars are attempting to produce clean, uniform wines, Moosbrugger is convinced that the future Gobelsburg lies in individuality and character. As a high level of technology is necessary to warrant uniformity, Moosbrugger believes that individuality can only be achieved through the reduction of machines. Moosbrugger developed the ‘Dynamic Cellar Concept’ for Gobelsburg in which wines are no longer pumped from one location to the other, but transported in ‘barrels on wheels’ from one section of the cellar to the other.
A hallmark of the estate are the ‘Tradition’ bottlings of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. Having read the meticulous notations of the Cistercians at the estate over the past 150 years, Michi pays homage in his role as cellar master, responsible for the ‘education’ of his ‘pupils’ –wine- while leading them through elevage; as opposed to acting as ‘winemaker,’ whose decisions in present day Austria are generally to preserve aromatics and fruit through extremely reductive methods.
Climbing north and slightly east of the Kremstal region, Kamptal has very little vineyard area bordering the Danube River (unlike Wachau and Kremstal, whose vineyards run along it). The region takes its name from the river called Kamp, which traverses it north and south. Kamptal’s densely planted vineyards represent eight percent of Austria’s total.
The area experiences wide diurnal temperature variations like the Wachau but with less rain and more frost. Its vast geologic diversity makes it suitable for various experimentations with other varieties besides Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent and Zweigelt.
But the region is probably most noted for the beautiful and expansive terraced Heiligenstein, arguably one of the world’s top Riesling sites, as well as some of Austria’s most extraordinary Grüner Veltliner vineyards. Kamptal’s soils, which are mostly loess and sand with some gravel and rocks, make it suitable for Grüner Veltliner, so much so that actually half of the zone is planted to that grape.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.