#WineWednesday Spotlight #152: Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg

“I feel pretty sure that blaufränkisch is pinot noir’s sexy older brother,” writes The Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil for her website WineSpeed. So can a wine exemplify the characteristics of the grape better than the racy and velvety Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2013? Maybe there’s no actual evidence, but I feel pretty sure that blaufränkisch (BLOUGH-frank-ish) is pinot noir’s sexy older brother—the one who rode Harleys and hung out with Hemingway (or did whatever the equivalent was two thousand years ago). This blaufränkisch from the single vineyard Spitzerberg is certainly like that—a peppery, fruity red that’s racy and dark at the same time. Blaufränkisch, Austria’s leading red, has the wonderful ability to be simultaneously velvety and structured. If I could stop what I’m doing and cook up some duck breasts with cherry sauce, I would. (13% abv) 92 points KM If you haven’t try Blaufränkisch yet, or if you’re like me and love the raciness of the grape, or if you’re ready to cook some duck breasts, here is our selection of Blaufränkisch wines from Muhr-van der Niepoort and several other top Austrian producers on our webshop. And don’t forget the cherry sauce!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #133: Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg

Last month, the Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg, Dorli Muhr‘s flagship wine, was featured in the newsletter of Flatiron Wines in New York: Spitzerberg (German for “Pointy Mountain”), is one of those best plots. This “Mountain” is actually a leftover shoreline from an ancient sea, a 300-meter-high outcropping of limestone South of the Danube in Lower Austria, near the Slovenian border. And it’s perfect for Blaufränkisch, an early budding, late ripening, grape that needs a long growing season to ripen fully. Dorli Muhr enlisted Douro legend, Dirk Niepoort, to help re-establish her family’s old Spitzerberg Blaufränkisch. Today the vines are at least 50 years old and farmed organically. They vinify using some whole clusters and foot stomping, and without additives (even sulfur) or cultured yeasts, pump-overs or modern tools. The wines are finished with two years in used barrels. Muhr-Van Der Niepoort, Spitzerberger 2012: These grapes managed to hang on the vines until October! This crazy long hang time and wild temperature swings towards the end make for a fully ripe but still super-refreshing counterpoint to Samt & Seide, with rich yet tart fruit. Six years on, tertiary umami notes are starting to complement the primary fruit. “These are little gems … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #133: Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg

World Class Organic Wines from Austria

Austria is now home to some of the best organic winemakers. We’re proud to represent the very gifted Ilse Maier of Weingut Geyerhof and Dorli Muhr of Muhr-van der Niepoort. Thanks to the leadership of Ilse Maier, Weingut Geyerhof in Oberfucha, Kremstal, has been organic since 1988. Ilse Maier’s family has lived in the wine village of Oberfucha since the 16th century and for Ilse, it became vital to preserve the biodiversity surrounding the village, not only for the vineyards but also for the wildlife and farm animals. In the vineyards, Ilse and her son Josef are working hard to keep the vines healthy and the soil loose and nicely moist underneath. They farm without using any pesticides, insecticides or weed control material. Clover is planted in every other row to naturally increase nitrogen in the soil, compost is used to nourish the plants, and the local wildlife is welcome. To save the grasslands around the village from overgrowth, the family is even raising cattle, which provide meat and milk and also manure for the fields. Maria Maier, Ilse’s daughter in-law, comes from a beekeeping family. She has started beekeeping in the vineyards. The bees are healthy and thriving thanks … Continue reading World Class Organic Wines from Austria

The Red, White, and Botrytized from Hungary, Austria and Romania

Hurricane delays and late container planning be damned, new arrivals from Hungary, Austria and Romania have finally landed in California. From out west in Sopron and Carnuntum, down in Somló and Lake Balaton, further still to Szekszárd, heading back northeast to Tokaj, and finally all the way over to Romania’s Minis region, these wines are a validation that the farming, winemaking and understanding of terroir are getting better and better year after year. The Reds: Wetzer, Muhr-van der Niepoort, Heimann, Eszterbauer and Balla Géza Only 10 years in, but using maps from the 1840s to find the best vineyards, Peter Wetzer’s 2016 vintage is our Hungarian foil for Cru Beaujolais. It doesn’t taste like Beaujolais, but the balance of spice, earth and structure makes the same person happy. Just about an hour north in Austria’s Carnuntum, the 2015 Samt und Seide from Muhr-van Der Niepoort has more limestone than Sopron’s slate, and is proof of how reflective of terroir Blaufränkisch can be. Further south in Szeskszárd near the Croatian border, we finally have some Kadarka back in stock. Once the most planted red in Hungary and a muse to composers like Franz Liszt (Hungarian Rhapsodies…), it nearly disappeared during Communism. … Continue reading The Red, White, and Botrytized from Hungary, Austria and Romania

#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

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 #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