Episode 130 – Two epic Grüners from Grabenwerkstatt
12th October 2022
Setting the scene – first some (edited) information from The Wine Society website.
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, including 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. They based themselves in the small village of Trandorf, home of Michael’s wife. They 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 a hectare near the village. One of these plots provides the raw materials for their single-vineyard Grüner Brandstatt, made from vines leased by an 80-year-old couple in the village. The resulting Grüner Veltliner wines come from a minuscule production, partly due to the small vineyard area and the hard-to-work steep slopes where everything is done by hand, concentrating the quality of the fruit. Though they haven’t sought certification for biodynamic principles, they farm along biodynamic tenets 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. They don’t overdo sulphur and do not fine or filter their wines. 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. These are wines of intensity, delicious spice and wonderful tension, and they are well worth tracking down.
2021 Wachauwerk, Grabenwerkstatt Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria (£21.00, www.thewinesociety.com).
Wine Soc wine buyer Freddy Bulmer sent these wines to me, sensing that I might like them. How right he was! There is glorious pithiness and tension here, with raw edges and raspy touches over the tenderest and most refined Grüner core. This wine is sheer beauty and an utter delight. In my experience, there are loads of passable Grüners in the UK and only a handful of true Grands Vins. This is a new name to me, yet the pricing here is remarkable for this level of finesse and complexity. It is already drinking but can age gracefully for a couple of years, so have a go and see what you think. 18.5/20
2021 Grabenwerk, Grabenwerkstatt Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria (£27.00, www.thewinesociety.com). SOLD OUT
Grabenwerk is made from grapes from the Spitzer Graben (the Side Valley), and this is the coolest part of the region, where the estate’s single vineyards are found. Made from vines that are not yet old enough to be used in single-vineyard bottlings, it is a serious creation that belies its price point. With more obvious rigidity and an introverted stance on the palate, this is a sinewy, forceful wine over an enchanting lemon sherbet backdrop. This is a terrific find that should live for a decade or more. This pair of wines are cut from a similar cloth, and while I prefer to drink the Wachauwerk now, and it is undoubtedly immensely refined, you must not be tempted to open this fellow. It is lean and mean, with a flick-knife slash in every sip. It will reward you five-fold in time. Just hide it away in the corner of your cellar until the time is right. 18.5+/20