#WineWednesday Spotlight #113: Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide

Roasted stuffed wild fowls and Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide is one of the pairings that Wine Enthusiast Magazine recommends for your Thanksgiving dinner. This tasty and earthy dish is a recipe from Hedi Klinger, chef and owner of Gasthof Klinger in Upper Austria. These little bird roasts, with their gamey flavors, billowy stuffing and salty bacon, need a medium-bodied red that can stand up to but not overpower, them. A traditional Austrian selection like Muhr-van der Niepoort’s 2014 Samt & Seide Blaufränkisch, and a New World counterpart like Brick House’s 2014 Gamay Noir from Oregon, both show lovely cherry fruit, a spicy touch of pepper and lip-smacking freshness that will illuminate all the flavors without weighing them down. Purity, finesse, elegance, that’s how The Wine Advocate describes the 2014 Samt & Seide: The 2014 Blaufränkisch Samt & Seide is the “super-second wine” of the Spitzerberg “Grand Vin” and comes from up to 40-year-old vines. The wine opens with a pure and spicy, very delicate and fresh bouquet of crushed stones, dried flowers and sour cherries. like the Cuvée vom Berg, this is another Alpine character and is fascinating in its purity and spicy freshness. On the palate, this … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #113: Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide

#WineWednesday Spotlight #109: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

After spending 3 years working for a wine magazine in New York City, wine and food writer Nicole Ruiz Hudson has recently returned to California. Located in the Bay Area, she now enjoys going on camping trips, from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains to Humboldt County up in the northern part of the state. On camping trips, she likes to eat well and pair her meals with something good in her glass. Not all wines are good camping wines though so in her blogpost 2 oz Pours: Campsite Dining, she shares with us some of her personal guidelines for perfect camping wines: they have to be easy-drinking, under $20, versatile, easy to open with a screwcap, and tasty while chilled. Sounds good to me! With Andouille sausages grilled on the fire and cannellini beans sautéed with onions, garlic and Parmesan, she enjoyed drinking a Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk Kremstal 2015: This is such a tasty wine. We have this at home quite a bit and we took this on both of our summer camping trips. (One of my co-workers mentioned this also one of her camping go-to’s.) StockWerk literally means “work on the vines.” The grapes for this wine grow on … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #109: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

Harvest report in Carnuntum, Austria: Interview with Dorli Muhr

This year, we decided to interview a few of our winemakers to get their impressions of the 2017 harvest and the overall 2017 vintage. Here is Dorli Muhr, owner of the Muhr-van der Niepoort winery located in the Austrian appellation of Carnuntum east of Vienna, and known of her elegant Blaufränkisch wines: How would you describe the 2017 vintage? 2017 is a very diverse vintage. We see fantastic quality in some vineyards, and less interesting grapes in others. You will find outstanding wines from the 2017 vintage, and you will find quite poor wines. For the consumer and for the trade, tasting and comparing will be very important. How is this vintage different from last year’s? This year, we had a very hot and extremely dry summer, while in 2016 we had enough rain. The grapes were very balanced in 2016, very tasty, very relaxed in a way. In 2017, many grapes could not mature perfectly, because they did not get enough water. But for some vineyards, the hot summer and the rainfall we got finally in September, was just ideal. Those vineyards will make incredibly good wines. What’s the biggest challenge this year? We need to pick very carefully, … Continue reading Harvest report in Carnuntum, Austria: Interview with Dorli Muhr

The Rise of Blaufränkisch

It seems that in the last few years, Blaufränkisch (German for blue Frankish) has become Austria’s most successful red wine variety. It’s not a new grape: based on its name, we think that it had been growing in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. The name Fränkisch comes from Franconia, a German region praised for its quality wines in the Middle Ages, and so at the time, grapes that were producing superior wines were called Fränkisch. Better rootstock, denser plantings, better cover crops management and nuanced winemaking explain the recent rise in quality with more and more Blaufränkisch wines showing great complexity and finesse. Some producers describe Blaufränkisch using the “triangle” comparison: the grape has the elegance of Burgundy Pinot Noir, the pepperiness of Northern Rhône Syrah, and the structure of Piedmont Nebbiolo. Its home is Burgenland where many of the finest examples are grown. Carnuntum, a region just southeast of Vienna, is also a source of quality Blaufränkisch where they are especially fresh and elegant. Burgenland was part of Hungary until 1921, when most of it was annexed as Austria’s ninth and easternmost state after the dissolution of he Habsburg Empire. The exception was Burgenland’s capital Sopron, which was … Continue reading The Rise of Blaufränkisch

#WineWednesday Spotlight #78: Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg

On International Women’s Day, let’s praise Dorli Muhr’s outstanding Blaufränkisch, especially her flagship wine, the Spitzerberg, thanks to a contribution from British wine critic Stuart Pigott: Nowhere that I know of does it give more fragrant wines than on the slopes of the Spitzerberg in the small region of Carnuntum (named after the ancient Roman city there). Dorli Muhr of the Muhr – van der Niepoort estate winery, pictured above, is the most important producer of these wines and in the 2013 vintage she made the finest Spitzerberg Blaufränkisch I ever tasted… there’s an earthiness behind the floral charm. The one thing that is eye-popping about this it is how vivid and energized it tastes, a dramatic contrast to many warm climate reds with their high alcoholic content and low acidity levels. In common with the best Blaufränkisch from Moric (in Mittelburgenland) and Uwe Schiefer (in Südburgenland), this wine has enormous depth and serious dry tannins, yet great balance and delicacy. For me, those are the hallmarks of world-class wines from this grape. You should check the whole blog post: New York Wine Diary: Day 5 – The Fragrance of Austria.

Meet our Women Vintners

Do you know that as many as 13 of the wineries in our current portfolio are run or co-run by women? Witnessing an increasing number of talented women involved in the wine industry on International Women’s Day is exciting. They may have taken different paths — some took over their family estate from their parents, others founded their wineries from scratch — but they are all passionate about their work. Whether they have a degree in oenology or learned the trade while working with their family, these women are making important contributions to viticulture and winemaking. In Austria, grower and winemaker Ilse Maier pioneered organic farming in Kremstal when she took over Geyerhof, the family estate, in 1986. Dorli Muhr resuscitated her family vineyards in Carnuntum and now produces some of Austria’s finest Blaufränkisch. In Tokaj, Hungary, winemakers Judit Bodó and Stéphanie Berecz founded respectively Bott and Kikelet wineries with their husbands and are now making some of the best wines of the region. In 2014, Stéphanie was awarded by her fellow winemakers the prestigious title of “winemaker of the winemakers”. Sarolta Bárdos who owns and runs Tokaj Nobilis was the winner of the prestigious award of 2012 Winemaker of … Continue reading Meet our Women Vintners

#WineWednesday Spotlight #67: Pfneisl Blaufränker

This is a contribution by Jeremy Dugan, wine buyer at The Wine Country in Long Beach. Not too often does an Austrian wine get to be Wine of the Month. But when I sat down with Orshi Kiss, our Blue Danube Representative, and tried this Blaufrankisch from Weingut Pfneisl in Burgenland, Austria, the second thing I did after enjoy it myself was take it back to Randy and said “We could do this for Wine of the Month in December.” The rest of the staff tried it and everyone was in agreeance, this wonderfully balanced medium bodied red wine is the type of crowd pleasing, goes well with everything kind of wine people love. Especially at $13.99 for a liter! But who is Weingut Pfneisl? And who the heck are Birgit and Katrin? Once named Pfneiszl when they lived in Hungary over 100 years ago, the family moved to Austria to escape Communism, dropped the z from their last name and kept making wine like they did in their home country. Since 1993, the Pfneisls have had two wineries, one in Austria (Pfneisl) and the other in their ancestral Hungarian lands(Pfneiszl). The Austrian winery has been ran by Franz Pfneisl … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #67: Pfneisl Blaufränker

#WineWednesday Spotlight #60: Muhr-van der Niepoort Prellenkirchen

If last week’s #WineWednesday Spotlight was a red wine from a mainly white wine appellation, this week’s Muhr-van der Niepoort Prellenkirchen is a white wine from Carnuntum, a wine district east of Vienna, better known for its fruity Zweigelt and elegant Blaufränkisch. Dorli Muhr was in New York City this week presenting her latest vintage and maybe you had a chance to meet her and taste her Prellenkirchen. Prellenkirchen refers to the name of one of the main wine-growing villages of the region. The wine is an organic blend of 90% Grüner Veltliner from 25-to-30-year-old vines and 10% Riesling for a touch of freshness. Part of the grapes is sourced from a limestone vineyard on the Spitzerberg Hill and the rest comes from a vineyard near Prellenkirchen. The grapes are crushed by foot and pressed after two days of maceration with their skins. Then, the must is fermented with native yeasts and matured in used French oak before being bottled with a minimal amount of sulphur. The wine shows a bright golden color and a nose of apple compote and honey. The palate is full and silky with some mineral and earthy notes on the finish. We paired it with … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #60: Muhr-van der Niepoort Prellenkirchen

#WineWednesday Spotlight #59: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

Although Kremstal — an appellation in the Danube Valley situated around the old Austrian town of Krems — is best-known for its white wines, it enjoys a slightly warmer climate than in the nearby Wachau where the valley is narrower. Thanks to these conditions, the Maier family from Geyerhof grows organic Zweigelt (pronounced TSVYE-gelt) in deep sandy soil on east-facing slopes for their StockWerk project. The name StockWerk, which means in German work (Werk) on the vine (Stock), reflects the philosophy of the Maier family, a pioneer of organic viticulture in Kremstal. Farming an organic vineyard implies a lot of additional hard work to keep the vine healthy and preserve biological diversity in the vineyard. To save the grasslands around their village of Oberfucha from overgrowth, the family started raising cattle again last year. They now have manure for the fields and also meat and milk. Moreover, Maria Maier, daughter of a Beekeeper, started beekeeping two years ago. Thanks to the absence of pesticides, she has now healthy and thriving bee colonies. The cow and bees that you can see below the vine on the wine’s label illustrate that biological diversity. With its light peppery nose, aromas of sour cherry … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #59: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

#WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners

Following the trace of Sisi, the beloved Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, we crossed the Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) in Budapest and drove up the Danube River to Vienna. Contrary to Budapest, the inner city of Vienna is not exactly on the Danube but borders the Danube Canal, a smaller arm of the river. But one of the most scenic stretches of the river can be experienced just an hour from Vienna, in the Wachau. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site that lies in the Danube Valley between the towns of Melk and Krems. Driving along the river, you can admire baroque towns and monasteries, quaint villages, ruins of medieval castles and steep terraced vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Facing Krems on the other side of the river is the small wine village of Oberfucha, home to the Maier family, who has been producing wines for 15 generations. We were welcomed by Ilse, her son Josef and his wife Maria. Baby Matthis, Maria and Josef’s new son, was still sleeping. First, Josef took us for a tour of the Kirchensteig (path to the church) vineyard just behind the house. While walking in the vineyard, Josef explained … Continue reading #WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners