Fritz Rieder in his beloved Schneiderberg.
This afternoon, our local friends, Andrea and Thomas, picked us up and escorted us to the Weinrieder Estate located in the center of the Weinviertel region west of Poysdorf in Kleinhadersdorf. For Andrea and Thomas, it was not their first trip to meet the Rieder’s and their excitement to see them again was contagious. Naturally, I was so excited since I have been selling their wines for a bit over a year and never visited. However, when the excitement comes from locals, you cannot help but feel like you are really onto something special!
The Tasting Group: Fritz, Kristyn, Stetson, Thomas, Andrea, und Hund.
As soon as we arrived, Melanie Rieder gently hurried us into the cozy little tasting room just off to the side of their very green backyard. The yard was modest, but appeared as if it were designed to entertain. Tasting with Friedrich Rieder is an experience in itself. He speaks, in German, about his wines with boisterous honest enthusiasm. Andrea translated for us. She was fast to translate, but he was faster. Ultimately language proved to be no obstacle. Friedrich loves to present his wines and is totally at home buzzing around a table of tasters telling their tale, because he is so animated. Whether you understand him or not, you enjoy listening. At one point before we got to the dessert wines, I requested to go back and re-taste a few wines. He did not recommend it. Why? His reasoning is that if you go back and taste them, it would destroy the progression. Before I could object he disappeared then returned with fully sealed bottles of the wines that I asked to revisit. We will savor his gifts once we are back home in California. This indeed will be a much better way to taste them again.
Here are few tasting highlights from the latest vintage taken straight out of my notebook:
a Weinrieder bottle.
2008 DAC Grüner Veltliner: Intensely aromatic, honey, melon, some petrol notes, great acidity. Slight sprits, raw coconut, great length 12.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)
2008 “Schneiderberg” Grüner Veltliner: Incredible nose, vegetal, but in a good way. Petrol, pork, coriander, smoke, ash. Slight bitterness, dense. Roast turkey, musty, challenging but very exciting, very peppery, patchouli oil, ginger… The grapes for this wine were picked the first days of December!
2008 “Kugler” Riesling: Quite clean, nutty, honeycomb, very good, powerful, yeasty. Lees aging? Buttery/creamy. Zesty energetic acidity. The whole table loved it.
The crown jewels of Weinrieder are their 20 hectares of vineyards situated on prime south and southwest facing hillsides of rich loam soil that the family farms themselves. The vineyards are unquestionably, sustainably farmed, there was an abundance of life in all of them. The wild grasses between the rows double as both fertilizer for the vines and home to the good bugs that protect them against the bad bugs. We saw multiple deer and hawks. At one point Friedrich was proudly pointing out his high-tech electric fence designed to protect his baby vineyard from vermin. At that same moment I saw the largest rabbit I have ever seen hop through the very fence! We all laughed hard.
The “Ghost Village” Heurigers
After the vineyards, we visited their cellars. Certainly, his least favorite part of the tour, his attitude somehow reinforced the importance he places in the vineyards. On our way back to the house we stopped at a little ghost village full of Heurigers. These amazing little spaces serve as a cellar/wine bar/picnic and party places all at the same time. From them, producers present their latest releases to the public, along with simple, picnic style food. These Heurigers literally lined the streets. Sadly, many of them are falling out of use. It is just too easy to get around with a car these days. I would die for one block of them in Los Angeles!
Upon arrival to the cellars, we were treated to Weinrieder’s opulent Sekt. A spicy full bodied sparkling wine, exploding with ginger, pepper and clove. It was an excellent reviver before we dove into the delicious array of fresh bread, local meats, pickles, pates, garlic spreads and of course, plenty of great Grüner Veltliner and Riesling to wash it all down. This is exactly the sort of experience you would have at a serious Heuriger. During the relaxing early evening meal, Friedrich made a comment that I will never forget: “I do not like to drink anonymous wine”. It is a simple statement, but demands much of the enthusiast. Most importantly, it inextricably connects the aromas and flavors in the glass with both the people and the places a wine comes from. This to me is both the essence and importance of terroir. Until next time!