Grabenwerkstatt Wachauwerk, Grüner Veltliner, Wachau 2020 is no longer available

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Grabenwerkstatt Wachauwerk, Grüner Veltliner, Wachau 2020

White Wine from Austria
Although 2020 was a much cooler vintage than 2019 Michael Linke and Franz Hofbauer of Grabenwerkstatt were even more enthusiastic about the resultant wines, thanks to the remarkably fine, fresh and focused style which has resulted. Coming from three plots in the eastern end of the Wachau, Wachauwerk is the flagbearer for this tiny and very exciting winery. This is delicate, lifted and precise grüner veltliner which punches well above its weight and is a masterclass in poise, restraint and finesse. Bone dry, with a steely structure, crisp citrus notes and remarkable ageing potential at the price, this is a testament to the skill of the winemakers. Decant if drinking now, to allow the wine to unfurl, or if you have the patience, age for 5 years plus. Low stock: limited to six bottles per member.
is no longer available
Code: AA3501

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • 1 - Bone dry
  • Gruner Veltliner
  • 12% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2030
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Austria

Austria has a long history of making fine wines, but with the country's wines undergoing a renaissance in recent years, now is arguably the best time to get to know the diverse and delicious bottles on offer.

There is evidence that vines were being cultivated in Austria for the production of wine by the Celts, even before the Romans. Austria was, rather surprisingly, the third-largest producer of wine globally in the 1920s, mainly producing and exporting simple light white wines. In more recent times the country has had to deal with the infamous ‘anti-freeze’ scandal of the 1980s when a handful of bulk producers were found to have adulterated their wines with ethylene glycol to sweeten their wines.

The problems of the 1980s hit the country's industry hard, but also had the effect of initiating the most wide-ranging quality control measures being implemented to ensure that this sort of disaster could never happen again. The industry was further...

Austria has a long history of making fine wines, but with the country's wines undergoing a renaissance in recent years, now is arguably the best time to get to know the diverse and delicious bottles on offer.

There is evidence that vines were being cultivated in Austria for the production of wine by the Celts, even before the Romans. Austria was, rather surprisingly, the third-largest producer of wine globally in the 1920s, mainly producing and exporting simple light white wines. In more recent times the country has had to deal with the infamous ‘anti-freeze’ scandal of the 1980s when a handful of bulk producers were found to have adulterated their wines with ethylene glycol to sweeten their wines.

The problems of the 1980s hit the country's industry hard, but also had the effect of initiating the most wide-ranging quality control measures being implemented to ensure that this sort of disaster could never happen again. The industry was further reinvigorated as larger and less quality-oriented producers went out of business, leaving old sites available for a new generation of winemakers and the original fine winefamily producers.

Austria's wine regions are confined to the east of the country where the Alps settle into the great Pannonian Plain, running north to south along the many borders from the Czech Republic in the north to Slovenia in the south. The climate here is continental, characterised by cold winters, hot dry summers, and often a large diurnal temperature flux with hot days, and cold nights. This is perfect for ripening a large range of grape varieties and retaining acidity and fresh aromas in white wines.

Broadly there are three major regions: Niederösterreich in the north, Burgenland and Steiermark to the south. Within these regions are a further 16 smaller DACs (Districtus Austriae Controllatus).

Niederösterreich (27,128ha) is known for high-quality white wine production, and most of the vineyards are focused along the banks of the Danube and its tributaries. Nearly half of all vines in this large area are grüner veltliner although world-class rieslings are also produced. Sub regions to look out for here include Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau, Wagram and Weinviertel.

Burgenland (13,840ha) is the area of vineyards focused around Lake Neusiedl - Central Europe's second-largest lake which straddles the Austrian-Hungarian border. Full-bodied and rich red wines are produced under the influence of the hot continental climate. The complex soil structure throughout the hills surrounding the lake, the various aspects available and large diurnal temperature change allows fine mineral-driven reds to be made. The reds produced use local grape varieties which are suited to the terroir - look out for blaufränkisch, zweigelt and St Laurent. The natural humidity caused by the lake can also lead to high levels of botrytis making this an excellent source of high-quality dessert wines.

Steiermark (Styria) (4,240h) the smallest Austrian area is developing a great reputation for its steely sauvignons and fresh aromatic white wines. Although many of the best wines are made in such small quantities that they are never exported, this is a region to watch.

In terms of grapes, grüner veltliner, native to Austria and Central Europe, is the king of the whites in terms of volume. It is turned into everything from light, thirst-quenching wines to complex barrel-aged stars. It is a great food wine and is finding its way on to many more restaurant wine lists around the world.

Riesling is less widely planted, at only 5% of Austria's production, but makes some of the country's finest wines, particularly on the steep slopes of the Wachau Valley along the banks of the Danube. Riesling's common style in Austria is bone-dry, elegant and steely with fresh citrus flavours.

Chardonnay (sometimes locally called morillon) and sauvignon blanc are increasingly planted and are already showing themselves to be hugely promising. The highly aromatic scheurebe, a German import, has a foothold in Steiermark making peach and blackcurrant-leaf-scented wines that marry well with spicy foods.

Reds make up about a third of Austrian plantings. 13 varieties are permitted, including both the dominant indigenous varieties and those more recently introduced such as cabernet and pinot noir. Zweigelt is the most commonly planted, making up 15% of Austria's red vines, and is a 1920s cross between blaufränkisch and St Laurent. It makes relatively light reds generally, with sour-cherry and redcurrant flavours supported by fine tannins and a spicy linear finish.

Blaufränkisch (pronounced blaou-FREN-kish) is a late-ripening indigenous variety can create wines with dense tannins, high acidity and concentration that can age well for many years. Generally the wines have notes of blackberries, ripe cherries or plums. St Laurent wines are often confused with pinot noir as they can have a similar profile: red-berry perfume, light elegant and crisp. However, St Laurent is often used to add elegance to a blend.

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Grabenwerkstatt

Franz Hofbauer, schnitzel-cook extraordinaire according to buyer Freddy Bulmer, and his friend Michale Linke are old mates, enthusiasts with bags of experience around the world of wine that includes New Zealand’s famous Felton Road estate. They got together in 2014 to make wine in a small village at the western end, one might say the unusual end, of the Wachau in Austria, basing themselves in the small village of Trandorf, home of Michael’s wife.

They happily took over the management of a handful of vines, some of them in a derelict vineyard that they needed to give some TLC, and farm just a hectare near the village. One of these plots provides the raw materials for their single-vineyard grüner Brandstatt, made from vines leased from an 80-year-old couple in the village. The resulting grüner veltliner wines come from a miniscule production, partly due to the small vineyard area and the hard to work steep slopes where everything is done by hand, but also by choice, concentrating the quality of the fruit.

They farm along biodynamic principles, though they haven’t sought certification for it, and make the wine in Franz’s Dad’s garage, enjoying the help of enthusiastic villagers at harvest time. They believe in a hands-off approach, don’t overdo the sulfur and don’t fine or filter. Because their side-valley at the western end of the main Wachau valley is without doubt a cool-climate vineyard area, they harvest their grüner later than their counterparts further east and they...
Franz Hofbauer, schnitzel-cook extraordinaire according to buyer Freddy Bulmer, and his friend Michale Linke are old mates, enthusiasts with bags of experience around the world of wine that includes New Zealand’s famous Felton Road estate. They got together in 2014 to make wine in a small village at the western end, one might say the unusual end, of the Wachau in Austria, basing themselves in the small village of Trandorf, home of Michael’s wife.

They happily took over the management of a handful of vines, some of them in a derelict vineyard that they needed to give some TLC, and farm just a hectare near the village. One of these plots provides the raw materials for their single-vineyard grüner Brandstatt, made from vines leased from an 80-year-old couple in the village. The resulting grüner veltliner wines come from a miniscule production, partly due to the small vineyard area and the hard to work steep slopes where everything is done by hand, but also by choice, concentrating the quality of the fruit.

They farm along biodynamic principles, though they haven’t sought certification for it, and make the wine in Franz’s Dad’s garage, enjoying the help of enthusiastic villagers at harvest time. They believe in a hands-off approach, don’t overdo the sulfur and don’t fine or filter. Because their side-valley at the western end of the main Wachau valley is without doubt a cool-climate vineyard area, they harvest their grüner later than their counterparts further east and they reckon that any climate warming will be a benefit to them as and when it evolves. In search of some high-quality riesling they also farm a vineyard plot in the more conventional part of the Wachau further east, called Trenning, which gives them excellent grapes from vines growing at 550 metres above sea level. These are wines of intensity, delicious spice and wonderful tension and are well worth seeking out. As is that schnitzel, by all accounts.
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Austria Vintage 2020

The 2020 vintage in Austria will go down as a vintage which produced wines with a particularly impressive ageing potential. It was a long and cool vintage, resulting in wines with an incredible freshness, focus and structure.

2020 vintage reviews
2019 vintage reviews

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