There is a simple and honest feeling in the wine and spirit of Gerhard Pittnauer which hails from his generosity and humility. Given the reins of his vineyard in the mid-1980’s after the unexpected death of his father, Gerhard, then 18 years old, had to train himself to make wine in the midst of scandal and chaos in the Austrian wine market. He chose to become a student of the broader wine world, and, in realizing the exceptionality of the land he farmed and of the indigenous grapes of the region, allowed himself to experiment with some missteps until he found his thesis. He set forth to ‘grow’ wine rather than to ‘make’ it in the cellar, from the autochtone varietals. He did so without any viticultural doctrine until he found that there was a consistent, common thread in the wines he loved to drink from France and elsewhere. If, he thought, these wines were amazing because of biodynamics, then he must do the same to achieve the pinnacle in his own wine. So he tends 15 hectares, half of which he owns and half of which he rents, alongside his wife Brigitte to create what they call living wines. All work is done manually from composting to pruning. There is no calendar that drives them. Nothing is rushed: they believe in quality over speed. They taste for perfect ripeness, select the cleanest grapes, and begin the wine in the cellar in response to the conditions of the vintage. They do incorporate a bit of modern technology: a pneumatic press, temperature-controlled steel tanks and pumps, all to ensure the purity and freshness of the fruit remains. They are making wines that excite them with the unique voice of the varietal and the deep limestone soils of the terroir speaking clearly. Gerhard and Brigitte are aware of the evolution of their tastes as well as the vineyard’s. They are students presenting the current findings. Not with proud declaration, but with excited experimental energy to get the best of what they have. So far, it is delicious research.
Vinification notes: The vines are planted in heavy clay soils of the Altenberg (Gols) vineyard, are hand harvested in September and undergo intensive sorting. Spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts under temperature control and then aged in barrique for 8 months.
For the Gruner Veltliner 95% whole berries were used and 5% bunches and then fermented for ten days in open vats, while the Muscat Ottonel and Traminer underwent the same process but with reduced time on the skins. The Chardonnay is immediately pressed to maintain a crisp texture and freshness with mineral elements. Each varietal was matured separately in barrique for half a year and then merged just before bottling.
-Savio Soares Selections