Markus Altenburger wants nothing more than to stoke the little flame of fascination with blaufränkisch and neuburger — yes, neuburger — in the Leithaberg. His vineyards perch at Austria’s far eastern edge, half an hour from Vienna, but seemingly in another cosmos altogether. Vast, shallow Lake Neusiedl and the low-slung Leitha mountain range wrangle for climatic influence. The wines express this tension, the influences of limestone and schist soils, and something of the wild abundance of nature, as well. Since he took over his family’s estate more than a decade ago, he’s moved from what he calls “well-behaved wines” to those that are much closer to nature and bear a far more personal stamp. Working from 30 small plots (certified organic and in conversion to Demeter biodynamics) scattered around the historic wine village of Jois, he is focused above all on blaufränkisch, neuburger, as well as old-vine grüner veltliner and chardonnay, and a few styles of distinctly Austrian rosé. There’s no doubt Markus’ blaufränkisch embodies what Leithaberg can do best: savory, mineral, complex yet drinkable reds that vibrate with freshness and energy, at moderate alcohol levels, with long aging potential. He thrives on tapping into what he calls “the yin and the yang of Jois” — 800 years of viticultural history counterposed with fairly avant-garde cellar work.
This is Markus’ entry-level blaufränkisch, grown on limestone rich soils (kalk). Grapes are fully destemmed (not crushed) and undergo spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tanks for approximately 3 weeks. The wine is then aged on its lees for twelve months in 2000L neutral casks prior to bottling.