Styria, Steeply, Sauvignon

Photos and text by John Szabo, MS

You probably already know about Austrian grüner veltliner. It’s the country’s most planted variety, and the wine you’re most likely to find, if anything, on store shelves and restaurant wine lists, outside of Austrian specialists. You may even know that Austria makes exceptional Riesling (see my recent Wachau report), and fine reds from local specialties like blaufränkisch and sankt laurent. What may be news, however, is that this middle European country is also the source of some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc, from a small region in the country’s deep south: Steiermark, or Styria.

Austrian Wine Regions

At first glance, the quiet, charming rural region of Sudsteiermark (South Styria) that ripples down to the Slovenian border in Austria’s southernmost winegrowing area hardly seems suited to agriculture of any kind, let alone grape growing. At least not easy grape growing. The region consists of little more than narrow valleys described by steep hills rising up to over 600 meters; flat areas are few and far between. And these are mostly taken advantage of by roads, rivers and settlements, or pumpkin farms for the region’s culinary specialty, kernöl (pungent pumpkin seed oil), leaving little room for low-effort grape growing.

Kernöl - pumpkin seed oil, a Styrian speciality

Kernöl – pumpkin seed oil, a Styrian speciality

A closer look reveals even greater challenges. Styria is one of Austria’s wettest and most humid regions. Pressure systems from the nearby Adriatic Sea to the south regularly drive moist, unstable pockets of air up into Austria where they eventually run up against the Alps. As air masses rise, storm clouds form, and then slip back down into Styria and drop up to 1200 millimeters of rain annually, at the upper limit for quality grape growing. Warm, moist air is also a catalyst for vine diseases of all kinds, a challenge especially for the small but growing number of organic grape growers in the region.

Even more worryingly, these air masses are occasionally forced high enough to turn raindrops into ice; hail the size of golf balls can destroy a vineyard in a matter of seconds, as happened in 2016. One winery, Sattlerhof, reported no less than 80% losses from hail that vintage. Indeed in most years, it’s not a matter of if, but where and when. Hail nets, at up to 1000 euros ($1400 CAD) per hectare, is yet another capital cost on the winery balance sheet.

So what makes quality wine possible and worthwhile in this seemingly inhospitable place? The answer, in a word, is hills. Steep hills. In fact, outside of the Alps proper, Styria has the country’s steepest slopes, the most extreme of which tip over 115% grade. That’s steeper than even the most radical sites in the Wachau, the equivalent of a stomach-wrenching roller coaster drop.

These serious slopes offer key advantages for grape growers. The principal one is drainage, of both water and air. In the spring and fall, cold air masses flow down hills and pool in the valleys, where tender vine shoots would freeze, or leaves drop prematurely, severely reducing yields or impeding ripening. The same goes of course for water; the valleys are too waterlogged and fertile for quality wine. Higher elevations also offer the advantage of greater day to night temperature changes, promoting ripening during Mediterranean-influenced days, and acid retention during cold Alpine nights. This is why virtually 100% of South Styria’s vineyards are on hillsides. It would be a fool’s errand to grow grapes on the valley floor.

A klapotetz, typical clattering windmill to scare hungry birds in Styrian vineyards

A klapotetz, typical clattering windmill to scare hungry birds in Styrian vineyards

Slope angle also maximizes sunlight, aiding ripening in what is classified as a cool climate region by any measure. Flat vineyards in northerly regions receive sunlight at an oblique angle – the sun is never directly overhead, but arcs across the sky to the south (or north in the southern hemisphere) – thus diffusing its energy and also invariably resulting in shaded plants at some point in the day. Vineyards angled toward the sun (south-facing slopes in the northern hemisphere), on the other hand, receive more direct sunlight (90º is optimal), and experience less shading, which in turn increases photosynthesis and the vine’s ripening potential. Simply put, all things being equal, if Styria were one large flat valley floor, the world would enjoy a lot more pumpkin seed oil, but never know Styrian wine.

Such steep hills of course also pose serious challenges. “Flipping tractors is a real hazard”, Andreas Sattler of Sattlerhof points out as we crest over a particularly steep part of the Sernauberg vineyard near the winery in Gamlitz. “You need a lot of experience and intimate knowledge of the vineyard to know where you can drive up and down.” Within the family, the Sernauberg is known as the “roller coaster” vineyard, for reasons obvious to anyone who has driven a tractor down the hill. As children, Sattler and his siblings used to ride harvest boxes down the Sernauberg like sleds for fun. But recreational use doesn’t obscure the fact that these slopes are genuinely dangerous. Regular accidents, occasionally even fatal, are dark reminders that grape growing in steep, hilly regions can be a perilous affair. Modified tractors with specialized hydraulic braking and anchoring systems have been designed out of necessity.

Additional farming cost is also another downside. Gerhard Wohlmuth of Weingut Wohlmuth takes me to his Edelschuh vineyard in the Sausal subregion, which makes the Sernauberg look like a kiddy coaster. With a 90% slope, I hesitate to even step off the levelled footpath between the upper and lower parcels for fear of tumbling into the valley below. Wohlmuth tells me that he calculates over 1200 hours of work per year per hectare in the Edelschuh, five or six times more than would be counted in a typical flat site, if one existed. And the Edelschuh is not even South Styria’s steepest slope. Berhard Malli of Weingut Malli in Kitzeck claims that distinction, having gone as far as to trademark his vineyard named Steile Leitn’n (“steep slope”), which tips in at a vertigo-inducing 115%. Wine growing in Sudsteiermark is not for the faint of heart.

Steep Vineyards

Steep Vineyards

Why, I wonder, are there so few terraced vineyards, as there are in the Wachau? While also labour intensive, they’re at least less dangerous. The answer, it turns out, is pretty straightforward. For one, there is no easily quarried stone to build retaining walls, as there is in the Wachau. And secondly, with no major monasteries in the immediate area, there were no monks to build them, even if stones were available. Today, no right-minded businessperson, here, in the Wachau, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, would ever conceive of building dry stone walls from scratch in a steep vineyard, at least not without expecting an ROI horizon that stretches into centuries.

But back to the advantages of slopes. As Andreas Sattler explains, they also have a couple of practical benefits over terraces. For one, the airflow so critical to drying out vineyards after regular summer rains is impeded by terraces. “When the winds from the south hit the first or second step of a terraced vineyard, airflow is diverted vertically upward and doesn’t flow over the upper terraces. That increases disease pressure. With sloping sites, air flows evenly up the hillside between vine rows, drying them out and keeping them healthy.”

Andreas Sattler of Sattlerhof in the Ried Sernauberg

Andreas Sattler of Sattlerhof in the Ried Sernauberg

And despite the dangers, sloping vineyards also allow work by tractor, unlike the terraced vineyards in the Wachau where everything is done by hand. This helps to keep costs down. Even at the top level Styrian wines remain well priced. Erosion is controlled with grass cover crops between rows.

While there isn’t any good wall-building primary rock in Styria as there is in the Wachau, there is plenty of sedimentary limestone, and metamorphic rocks. The region was once under the proto-Adriatic Sea, before the north-sliding African tectonic plate slid into the Eurasian plate and uplifted and drained the area (and created the Alps). The ridges that ripple down into Slovenia and Northern Italy are thus composed largely of marls and limestone, sand, and foliated rocks like schist and slate that were created by the intense compression of various materials. Sensitive winemakers and wine tasters can have much fun in the area teasing out the differences between different sites and soil types, from the more open-knit structure and energetic green apple acids of the sands, to the more flinty expression on limestone, and the denser, more smoky, salty, less-fruity aspect of wines grown on marls and especially schist and slate. But that’s, of course, barely scratching the surface.

Styria remains for the time being outside of Austria’s DAC appellation system (Districtus Austriae Controllatus). But if and when the region joins, Styria and sauvignon blanc will surely be officially associated, as chardonnay is with Chablis. Sauvignon is South Styria’s calling card, and the most distinctive and identifiable variety, representing usually more than 50% of a quality-oriented producer’s holdings. The style spectrum is fairly broad, but for me a typical Styrian sauvignon falls stylistically somewhere between Sancerre/Pouilly-Fumé and New Zealand’s Marlborough. That’s to say, the wines show the sharp acids and herbal-flinty minerality of the Loire style. But stoniness is joined by fruit expression that slips into the slightly riper passion fruit-guava spectrum of warmer climates, yet not as boisterous as New Zealand’s tropical fruit, nor as obviously grassy and jalapeño-inflected. If you’re familiar with sauvignon grown in neighboring Friuli in Italy, you’re in the right camp. The very best offer serious depth, concentration and complexity, and a palpable mineral saltiness, with or without wood (oaky examples are thankfully rare). They are regionally identifiable and also age-worthy, the necessary characteristics for me to be included on a list of the world’s best.

Beyond sauvignon, other varieties that perform include morillon, the local name for chardonnay (but get used to it, as producers are rightfully proud of their regional interpretation and are keen to use the local name), which is unsurprising considering Styria’s cool climate and abundance of limestone. Styria’s top morillons would be comfortable at any swanky chardy party. Riesling was once more widely planted, especially in the Sausal sub-region where it dominated towards the end of the 19th century after phylloxera, before sauvignon took over. Results from some of Sausal’s steep, high elevation, schists-based vineyards are excellent.

Sausal, Austria's highest elevation vineyards

Sausal, Austria’s highest elevation vineyards

Weissburgunder (pinot blanc) and grauburgunder (pinot gris) also give admirable results, while welschriesling, traminer and the aromatic gelber muskateller (muscat blanc à petit grains) are more regional specialities, frequently served in the region’s buschenshanken, the alluringly rustic wine taverns found throughout the Austrian countryside. If you want to act like a local at one of these taverns, order a mischung, the classic Styrian buschenshank specialty of wine (usually welschriesling, but muskateller works nicely too) mixed with sparkling mineral water. Note that this is not the same as a spritzer – that’s wine mixed with soda water.

Styria has no official quality or vineyard classifications, but a group of ten quality and export-minded producers have banded together to create an association called the STK (Steirischen Terroir und Klassikweingüter) with the aim of establishing their own hierarchy of sites along with a self-imposed quality charter. The group also works together to promote their wines and region (similar to the private ÖTW – Österreichischer Traditionsweingüter – in Lower Austria). Included in the production regulations are hand harvesting and pruning, and green harvesting, along with mandatory sustainable farming practices.

Under the STK, wines are classified from the most basic, called Sterische Klassik – dry, unoaked whites from Styrian varieties (those listed above) – through “village” wines from a single commune, with or without a parcel name, through to top classified vineyards, labelled as either Erste STK Lage (premier cru), or the top of the pyramid, Grosse STK Lage (grand cru). “The decision to classify a vineyard site as an‘ ERSTE STK LAGE ®’ or ‘GROSSE STK LAGE ®’ is made by STK wineries based on their long-standing experience and on national and international tasting results”, according to the STK Charta, and the use of these classifications is restricted to member wineries. Vines must be a minimum of 12 and 15 years old respectively, and each vineyard is documented according to size, orientation, incline, and plantation density on the STK site maps.

It may be a while before even grosse lage names like Zieregg, Pössnitzberg, Kranachberg or Hochgrassnitzberg are tossed about in Toronto or Montreal wine circles like Musigny or Montrachet, let alone in the mainstream, but the STK logo is at least is a reliable indication of quality, like the Vinea Wachau in the Wachau, or the VDP in Germany. There are, of course, many fine producers outside of the association (i.e. Wohlmuth), but it’s a start.

Hochgrassnitzberg, an STK Grosse Lage

Hochgrassnitzberg, an STK Grosse Lage

From challenging places come characterful wines. Styria is not short on challenges, but the results at the top level are worth the effort. So, next time you’re thinking Austria, or grüner, stop for a moment to consider Styria, and its remarkable steep-sloped sauvignons.

See the buyer’s guide below for some top picks, from wines tasted during a visit to the region in May 2017.

Buyer’s Guide: Wines of Sudsteiermark (South Styria)

Wineries reviewed: Erwin Sabathi, Erich and Walter Polz, Gerngross, Harkamp, Peter Masser, Sattlerhof, Tement, Wohlmuth.

Winery classification:

*** A top regional reference

** An excellent winery with solid range

* A reliable, regionally representative winery with good to very good wines


Erwin Sabathi**

A serious, well-run modern operation started by Erwin Sabathi’s grandfather, who bought the part of the Pössnitzberg vineyard in 1950 and moved the family to Leutschach. Wines are uniformly clean and technically spot on, but not clinical, and there are several excellent sites in the portfolio. The village and 1er cru sauvignons lean to the lighter, greener side, while the grand crus gets considerably more serious. Chardonnays are very fine, international-leaning, but very much a cool climate style and should age well. Burgundy is clearly the main guidepost  for Sabathi.

Possnitzberg, with hail nets

Possnitzberg, with hail nets

92-93 2015 Erwin Sabathi Ried Pössnitzberger ‘Kapellen’ Chardonnay Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark

Barrel sample. The first vintage in which the small Kapellen parcel, up to 500m elevation with very shallow topsoil was bottled separately. I like the finesse here again, the tension and saltiness exhibited, as with the sauvignon from the same parcel, more energetic. The flavour profile is more focused on citrus fruit, pear and yellow apple, while wood seems better integrated  than the old vines cuvée. Very Burgundian I have to say – Sabathi’s guideposts are very clear. To be bottled early September. Tasted May 2017.

93 2015 Erwin Sabathi Ried Pössnitzberger Sauvignon Blanc ‘Kapellen’ STK Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark

Cask sample. From 15 year old vines at 480-500m elevation in very shallow soils, part of the Pössnitzberg vineyard, the parcel Sabathi considers ideal for sauvignon, also a healthier site, requiring fewer sprays. Green tinge. I like the nose here, fine complexity. There’s a fine lifted herbal character, not green, more like fresh white flowers, lemon blossom. Fullish, genuinely salty palate, lots of energy here. Like a tension lift.  A top example, my preference compared to the alte reben, delivering a little more tension and life, finesse and delicacy in an otherwise powerful wine. Tasted May 2017.

91 2015 Erwin Sabathi Ried Pössnitzberg Chardonnay Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark

Sabathi’s top vineyard, the Pössnitzberg chardonnay is aged in 500l barrels, 100% new wood. There’s lots of ripeness and density here to be sure, and evidently lots of new wood spice and sweet brown baking spice flavours. The palate is fullish, though surprisingly lithe and light, with a long, light caramel finish. Well made, serious wine. Tasted May 2017.

91 2015 Erwin Sabathi Ried Pössnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc Alte Reben STK Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark Sabathi’s old vine parcel in the Pössnitzberg, 39 years old vines in this vintage. It’s closed and locked down on the nose for now, but ample, and generous (13.5% alcohol) on the palate, creamy but balanced, bone dry. Grapefruit flavours lead. Quite dense and even a touch heavy, especially relative to the Kapellen. More substance more extract, but not necessarily more complexity. Impressive in any case.  Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Erwin Sabathi Ried Pössnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc STK Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark

Wild fermented, 2-3 weeks, followed by 10 months on lees in wood with no sulphur. Malo partially done. Some wood is noted off the top, but not an overwhelming feature. The palate is rich and textural, fullish though still tightly wound and youthful, much riper than the other sauvignons in the Sabathi range. I like the saltiness on offer; this has plenty of interest and complexity, and very good length. Tasted May 2017.

88 2016 Erwin Sabathi sauvignon Blanc Ried Poharnig Erste Lage Sudsteiermark

From behind the winery, a cooler sandy site. Light intensity, slightly green aromatics, more open and lifted (not VA), fresh green pepper. The palate is loose and sharp, with modest density – it’s all about the acids and tart citrus green apple fruit, and the asparagus. Decent length. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Erwin Sabathi Leutschacher Sauvignon Blanc Ortswein Sudsteiermark

The young vine cuvée; under 10 years on average, wild fermented in 5500 casks. Crafted in more of an New Zealand-like expression, lightly green, lightly thiol dominated (passion fruit/guava), and sweet-sour on the palate. Acids are high. Lightly yeasty finish. Correct, clean and sharp, straightforward. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Erwin Sabathi Sauvignon Blanc Steirische Klassik Sudsteiermark

Green, fresh, pyrazine driven, dry, precise, technically spot on. Tasted May 2017.

R&R Gerngross*

Michael Gergross is the third generation in this small, 10-hectare family estate in the Sausal sub-region, taking the reins in 2008. His grandfather made wine mostly for the still-operational family buschenshank (wine tavern), though production is now sold commercially as well. Gerngross leaves his wines on the lees longer than the average, usually a year or more, and uses wood sparingly. Winemaking otherwise is low-tech. This is a solid, representative range, and some experimental lots like a skin fermented pinot gris-sauvignon blend show innovation and future promise. The property is in conversion to organic viticulture.

Micheal Gerngross in the Hochbrudersegg

Micheal Gerngross in the Hochbrudersegg

90 2015 Gerngross Ried Hochbrudersegg Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

The oldest vines in the estate’s top vineyard, c. 35 years old. This is the crisp, fresh and fragrant style, a classic Styrian example, mid way between Loire and NZ, with sweet green herbs, passion fruit, and green tropical fruit (thiols). The palate is ripe but fresh, with juicy acids and lightly salty character. Solid substance, good length. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Gerngross Hochbrudersegg grauburgunder – sauvignon blanc Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

80% pinot gris-20% sauvignon; fermented on the skins 3 weeks, followed by gentle pressing into used barrel, bottled in December. There’s some intrigue here: a complex nose, lightly aldehydic, not over the top, with burnished, orange pekoe/Earl Grey tea aromas and flavours, bergamot, and red berry flavours. Fine length. This is worth a look in the skin-fermented white category to be sure. Tasted May 2017.

The Theresian Kapelle, Gerngross

The Theresian Kapelle, Gerngross

90 2008 Gerngross Hochegger Grauburgunder Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

From a small parcel in the Hochbrudersegg called the Hochegger. Aged in one new 800l barrel. Intriguing development, white pepper, burnished/oxidative styling. I like the orange peel, orange cake flavours. Great length. This is a really fine wine – has evolved so beautifully. These wines clearly need time. Tasted May 2017.

87 2015 Gerngross Ried Hochbrudersegg Grauburgunder Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Quite a ripe and rich style, definitely more gris than grigio, though the estate aims for a more elegant style, not oaky or malo driven. The palate is midweight, with sharp acids; a touch of wood flavour is layered onto orange and tangerine. Decent development, but not a top expression in my view. Clean, competent, faint bitterness. Tasted May 2017.

Hochbrudersegg, the top vineyard at Gerngross

Hochbrudersegg, the top vineyard at Gerngross

87 2015 Gerngross Ried Hochbrudersegg Morillon Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

The first single vineyard selection from this parcel. One part in 800l cask, one part in steel. Firm, tight acids, crispy, crunchy, green apple style, with notable bitterness on the finish. Correct, but not as successful as the sauvignon. Alcohol is warm at 13.5%. Tasted May 2017.


Harkamp is a sparkling wine specialist in the Sausal sub-region, one of the northernmost wineries in Southern Styria. 17 hectares of vineyards cover both schist and limestone soils; farming is certified organic as of 2017, the same year in which use of biodynamic preparations began. Current winemaker Hannes Harkamp’s grandfather bought the property in 1926, though son Jozsef will be the 4th. In recent years, Harkamp has been aiming for a leaner, higher acid, low pH style across the board, focused on finesse and elegance rather than power. Traditional method sparkling wines are drier than the average in Austria, and the range now includes a very good zero dosage version. Also very good still wines; pinot gris and sauvignon from the Flamberg (limestone), and especially Kogelberg sauvignon (schist) are highlights. A lovely family-run, on-site hotel/restaurant/weingarten is a popular wedding venue, which also helps sales.

Lunch with a view, with Hannes Harkamp

Lunch with a view, with Hannes Harkamp

92 2015 Harkamp Sauvignon Blanc Kogelberg Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

The Kogelberg rests on blue and red schist, and over half of the vineyard is on terraced slopes. The wine is aged in 800l casks, 2 and 3 years old, with extended lees ageing. 13.5% alc. This has more saltiness than the Flamberg (limestone-based) sauvignon, and higher acid (7.2 vs. 6.8), also higher alcohol. Wood is noted but not a major factor. This is bigger, tighter, more highly structured, with more intensity all around. Lots of personality – terrific wine. Tasted May 2017.

One of the very few terraced vineyards in Sudsteiermark

One of the very few terraced vineyards in Sudsteiermark

91 2013 Harkamp Brut Reserve Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Disgorged in December 2016. Production of the brut reserve started in 2007, though sparkling production predates. Chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc. All three aged in old wood, up to 2,500l casks before secondary fermentation, then 3 years on the lees. 5 grams dosage. Unusually dry for Austria as Mr Harkamp prefers fully dry or nearly so, but commercial considerations compel a few grams of sugar, I’m told. This is quite pretty on the nose, floral and citrus, lemon peel-inflected, while autolysis flavour is modest. Good length, delicate and light, with good complexity. Tasted May 2017.

91 2015 Harkamp Ober Burgstall Grauburgunder Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

This is the still wine for which the winery is best-known, a pinot gris from a parcel on top of the Flamberg on limestone, planted in 1985, with 40-50% slopes up to 420meters. It’s a cool climate grauburgunder, harvested a touch earlier than the mean, usually around 13.5% alc. or less. (Harkamp is moving towards earlier and earlier harvests to capture acidity and freshness). Acids are bright, firming up a broad and full palate with evident substance and weight, while classy wood is well integrated. Yet this still needs a few more years in bottle, 2-3, for full integration and pleasure. Tasted May 2017.

91 2013 Harkamp Zero Dosage Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

This is the same wine as the 2013 Harkamp Brut Reserve, but with no dosage, and disgorged in September 2016. The autolysis shows more here, with less fruit, more stone. Very straight and pure, tightly wound. For the stone and mineral and acid lovers, though not shrill. Acids are not hard. I prefer this version at this moment. C. 8 grams acid. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Harkamp Sauvignon Blanc Flamberg Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Named after the hillside on which the vineyards are scattered – not a cru wine, but grown principally on limestone. This is a nicely reserved and minerally style sauvignon, very wet stone and limestone-driven, with plenty of tart citrus fruit. The palate is firm and bright, bone dry, with neither excessive thiols nor pyrazines, but a mix. Very good length. 12.5% More delicate and citrus fruit driven than the Kogelberg sauvignon. Tasted May 2017.

88 NV Harkamp Brut Rosé Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

A pure pinot noir rosé given whole cluster press, then 6 months in 1500l barrels before secondary fermentation, and 2 years on lees. The pale pink colour comes from addition of red pinot noir during ageing – “It’s easier to control the colour”. Disgorged March 2017. Modest complexity on the nose, creamy-yeasty, with slightly woody-resinous flavour on the palate. Not much fruit to report, more resinous herbs and stemmy character, a little rustic overall. Tasted May 2017.

88 2015 Harkamp Riesling Alte Reben Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

There’s a long tradition of riesling in Sausal, even if it’s not widely planted today, and this is the winery’s original label. Vines were planted in 1985 on schist and limestone. Wild yeast fermented in old, 500l casks, bottled with 7grams of residual sugar and 9 grams of acid, so technically dry. This smells lovely. Very varietal. Stony and limey. Tastes dry, almost Clare Valley-like with its lime cordial finish and lean texture. Decent length. Perfectly refreshing, if not profound. Tasted May 2017.

Sausal Panorama

Sausal Panorama

88 NV Harkamp Sauvignon Blanc Extra Brut Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

2013 + 2014; 3 grams dosage. Disgorged January 2017, after 1.5 years on lees average (different disgorgement dates). Harkamp is aiming for a sharp, lean, tight base wine, harvested 1-2 weeks before the sauvignon table wine harvest; whole cluster press. There’s no mistaking the sauvignon base of this sparkling, with its thiol-driven profile. This is like sharp-tart sauvignon with bubbles. A solid core of acids drives the finish home. “Stays fresher and younger in the bottle if bottle fermented rather than tank method”. Quality wine, but destined mostly for the local market I suspect. Tasted May 2017.

87 NV Harkamp Gelber Muskateller Brut Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Based on the ’13 and ’14 vintage, disgorged April 2017, after a year on the lees minimum. It offers an intriguing mix of grapey-floral-muscat, and yeast-derived aromatics, with notable residual sugar, or at least impression of sweetness on the palate. And while there’s plenty of varietal character, it’s more subdued than the average, aiming for a more restrained, not blowsy style. 11.5% alcohol. Perfect for sipping on the terrace. Tasted May 2017. 

Peter Masser

Masser is a promising 4th generation family estate with vineyards scattered around southern Sudsteiermark. The entry and mid-range ranges (called Stock and Bod’n, respectively) are perfectly clean and competent, highly drinkable, if without thrills. The top range shows overenthusiastic wood ageing, with most of the 2014s overwhelmed with pure new American wood. Things will no doubt improve as the barrels age and experience grows, experiments, including Austria’s first granite tank, are in full swing. A winery to watch.

89 2010 Masser Blauer Wildbacher Ried Schlingelberg Sudsteiermark

Wildbacher, native to western Styria, is a tough variety to get to full ripeness, especially in the high elevations of Sudsteiermark. It’s a late ripener with high tannin and acid. This 2010 was in old wood barrels until 2015. Red berry fruit leads in a surprisingly non-oxidative expression, reminiscent of Piedmont’s freisa. Very original in any case, and appealing, still grippy and dusty, sour cherry and red plum fruit flavoured. hard to believe how fresh this is; if only it were more viable to grow! A perfect charcuterie wine. Tasted May 2017.

88 2011 Masser Eagle Sudsteiermark

A cabernet-based blend, with zweigelt and blauer wildbacher, from near Oberglanz on heavy clay. Surprisingly fresh as well as low pyrazine content – this seems to have gone through a full ripening cycle, helped by very low yield, 3-4000 kilos/ha. Wood still sticks out a bit, but this is competent red winemaking to be sure. Acids are great. This, too, has a northern Italian feel. Solidly made. Tasted May 2017.

88 2016 Masser Ried Sernauberg Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark

From the Bod’n (Vineyard) range. Sernauberg in Gamlitz, next to Sattlerhof, sandy soils, high elevations up to nearly 500m, frost free in 2016, even more crop than in 2015! Clean, fresh, no wood, given a little longer on the lees than the basic range, no stirring. CO2 noted off the top, with that sandy, open texture, not dense but lithe and elegant. Only a very short skin contact given here, 5-6 hours. Mostly passion fruit, not green; lightly salty. Crunchy and lively, to be packed back, but with a least a bit of contemplation. Tasted May 2017.

Hillside vineyards, valley roads and villages

Hillside vineyards, valley roads and villages

88 2013 Masser Zweigelt Ried Sernauberg Sudsteiermark

15-20 year old vines, near the highest point of the vineyard in a prime spot. Aged in barrique, 4 and 5th fill. I like the nose: lovely, fresh red fruit, crunchy and peppery, herbal in the right way. The palate is light mid-weight, a touch grippy and dusty in texture, but generally acid-driven, fruity-herbal and with solid length. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Masser ‘Sieme’ Sauvignon Blanc Die 7 Jungwinzer Sudsteiermark

This wine is part of a series of sauvignons made by a group of seven young winemakers created by Peter Masser. Each member produces a sauvignon, which are sold together in a seven bottle pack. The aim is to create 7 different wines, though with some basic guidelines: under 2.5 grams rs. Pale, light aromatics, crystal clean and clear, with not too much aromatic intensity. Masser’s version is a blend of estate vineyards: the backbone comes from the Schlingelberg, freshness from Sernau, the broad and soft texture from Oberglanz. The palate offers more than expected, in the classic Styrian style, simple but very inviting. A touch of green but mostly light passion fruit flavour dominates alongside green apple and lemon-lime. Perfectly tasty. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Masser Morillon ‘Stock’  Sudsteiermark

Relatively pale, fresh, unoaked, delicate aromatics. Clean, no oxidative nor reductive character. Crispy, tart, citrusy. Clean and perfectly drinkable, a solid ‘house’ wine. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Masser Weisse Burgunder ‘Stock’ Sudsteiermark

From both estate and purchased fruit. Crispy, fruity, fresh, green apple-flavoured. Tight. Perfectly drinkable. 12% alcohol. Tasted May 2017.

Erich & Walter Polz**

Christophe Polz returned from studies and work experience abroad in 2011 to work at the successful family winery, established on a commercial level by his father Erich and uncle Walter in 1984 (who took over the vineyards of their parents and began bottling wine). The estate has been built up to 70 hectares around the village of Spielfeld, including significant holdings in the surrounding Grassnitzberg and Hochgrassnitzberg crus. Christophe has made incremental changes to winemaking, reducing the wood imprint (he no longer uses any new, small barrels), and doesn’t sulphur until after racking, aiming for a more finessed and elegant style. This is a clean, solid range from Steirische Klassik to grosse lage, just missing the spark of the top level, the extra dimension that comes by occasionally pushing the limits, though potential is there.

Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

92 2015 Polz Ried Hochgrassnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark Fermentation of this wine lasted nearly a year, and it spent 14 months total in large old casks (1000-3000), bottled two weeks ago. It’s neither reduced nor oxidative (low VA); I like the delicately herbal-fresh, piney notes, and tangerine-citrus. The palate shows excellent length, depth and flavour intensity. Classy and refined, pure and focused. 13.5% alc. Tasted May 2017.

90 2016 Polz Czamilla Sauvignon Blanc Ried Czamillonberg Sudsteiermark

The Czamillonberg is close to Pössnitzberg in the southern part of the region, from 30 year old vines on limestone with some loam. This is wild fermented in large oak cask, on lees until March, with no batonnage or racking. It has the fullest body in the Polz range, balanced between creamy and sharp, chiselled and mouthfilling, with tingling acids and very long finish. Excellent balance and harmony, and length, overall. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Polz Ried Hochgrassnitzberg  Weissburgunder Sudsteiermark

The first single vineyard bottling of pinot blanc. 2015 “was the best harvest I’ve made so far”, declares Christophe Polz. Fermented/aged in 500l barrels (and one 228l). It’s very pretty, slightly salty, just barely leesy. Very good length. Like delicate, refined chardonnay. Very good length. Successful experiment! Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Polz Ried Hochgrassnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Sudsteiermark Sourced from the Obegg vineyard, a smaller Leithakalk (limestone) parcel in the Hochgrassnitzberg, aged mainly in 500l barrels with a small percentage in 228s. Wild fermented, racked after a year. Squeaky clean, with tight acids, neither oxi nor reductive, and mostly bright lemony-citrus fruit. Very good length. Salty finish. Seems there’s excellent potential in this vineyard. Tasted May 2017.

Grassnitzberg panorama

Grassnitzberg panorama

89 2016 Polz Sausaler Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark

The estate’s highest vineyards, up to 550m. Schist soils. Wild fermented in large oak cask, on lees until March, no batonnage or racking. Pretty nose, lightly floral-herbal, crisp and crunchy on the palate, with firm but still ripe acids. A little more chiselled and fresh, but still New Zealand like. 15 year old vines. Tasted May 2017.

88 2016 Polz Sauvignon Blanc Spielfelder 84/88 Sudsteiermark

A ‘village’-level sauvignon from several vineyards around Spielfeld (the village the winery is located in). Wild fermented in large oak cask, on lees until March, no batonnage or racking. Green, herbal, marijuana-like. Creamy palate (malo done). Sweet-sour, wet concrete finish. 15-20 year old vines Tasted May 2017.

86 2016 Polz Gelber Muskateller Steirische Klassik Sudsteiermark

Like rainwater on a spring day with wildflowers blooming. Elderflower. Very pale, light intensity (for the variety). Virtually dry. A classic example of the “Klassik” category. Clean, technically spot on and varietally correct. Tasted May 2017.

Christophe Polz in the Hochgrassnitzberg Grosse Lage

Christophe Polz in the Hochgrassnitzberg Grosse Lage

86 2016 Polz Sauvignon Blanc Steirische Klassik Sudsteiermark

Relatively light intensity aromatics, on the greener and grassier side of the spectrum. The palate picks it up a notch, a littler fleshier than anticipated, with a sort of sweet-sour-green New Zealand-like profile. Bentonite/wet concrete finish. Tasted May 2017.


A leading STK member winery with strong presence on export markets (including Canada), drawing on 40ha of vineyards around the town of Gamlitz, including the erste lage Sernauberg and the grosse lage Kranachberg, and the as-yet-unclassified but cru-worthy Pfarrweingarten and Kappellenweingarten. Willi, and increasingly, young son Andreas Sattler run the winery, now certified organic. All wines save the generic Südsteiermark line are labeled by origin (village or single vineyard), and are produced in more or less identically, with 12 hours of skin maceration and cool, spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. 60% production is sauvignon blanc. This is a sharp and precise, representative range across the board; Kranachberg SB is rich and exotic relative to the appealing slimness of the Sernauberg, while the Gamlitzer ‘village’ sauvignon is textbook Styria.

92 2016 Sattlerhof Ried Serrnauberg Erste STK Lage Sudsteiermark

The Sernauberg is considered a “premier cru” vineyard by the STK group. Lots of minerality on the nose, fully ripe, with plenty of extract and depth, and flesh. Long finish. Classy, sharp, clean and pristine. Reaches physiological ripeness at lower alcohol (0.2-3 less than Kranachberg) but more mineral, les exotic than Kranachberg, sharper, leaner, and more floral too. Tasted May 2017.

Sattlerhof's "Roller Coaster" Sernauberg vineyard

Sattlerhof’s “Roller Coaster” Sernauberg vineyard

92 2015 Sattlerhof sauvignon Ried Kranachberg “G” STK Sudsteiermark

A grosse lage site under the STK, with sand and gravel. It’s given a half day’s maceration, followed by fermentation in stainless steel. Ripe and exotic, but also pure and fresh, with lots of grapefruit – still very youthful. High acids, high alcohol. 13.5% alcohol (always a little bit higher in this site). Juicy, fullish, quite fat compared to the Sernauberg. This needs age, 2-5 years, or hold until the mid-’20s. More powerful, more complex. Tasted May 2017.

91 2007 Sattlerhof Fassreserve Pfarrweingarten Sudsteiermark

This spent an amazing 7 years on the lees in small barrels, with full malolactic done (cellar at 12-14º),  made “to prove that pinot blanc is not as boring as people think, and that the potential for Burgundy varieties in South Styria is high”, Andreas Sattler tells me, and “there’s enough grüner in the world already”. It is indeed remarkably fresh, really not that advanced at all. The palate is still tight, but creamy-yeasty. Refined. Very nice. Tasted May 2017.

91 2015 Sattlerhof Kappellenweingarten Morillon Sudsteiermark

2015 was the 2nd vintage produced from the Kappellenweingarten, an unclassified vineyard (for the moment). 3ha were planted between 1968-1989, and another 5ha of young vines were added later (which go into the Gamlitzer or Sudsteiermark bottlings). The site is surrounded by 25 ha of forest, way up at 550m on the Eichberg, the highest vineyard now in the Sattlerhof portfolio, and thus a very cool site, also windy. Alcohol is always low. Fermented in 1300l casks, kept on full lees until bottling. Discreet, light, bright aromatics, very Chablisienne, stony and lightly lactic (malo completed). I love the fresh citrus, lemon. A wine of finesse and delicacy. This will be a great vineyard once mastered by Sattler. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Sattlerhof Pfarrweingarten Morillon Sudsteiermark

Not made every vintage – only the top years. Fermented in 300l barrels, 18 months in oak, bottled a couple of weeks ago. A limestone-based former coral reef. Clean, low reduction, right spot-on in the middle of the oxi-redox spectrum. Wears the wood very well, light toast. Very good length, very fine and delicate. Clean, precise, like all of Sattlerhof’s wines. Tasted May 2017.

90 2016 Sattlerhof Sauvignon Gamlitzer Sudsteiermark

The village level wine – the workhorse of the winery. A little more class, minerality and complexity here than the entry-level bottling. Sharp acids are balanced by solid extract. A very clean, pure style, very good length. An excellent vintage. Pristine. Citrus, passion fruit. Drink now-2021. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Sattlerhof Gamlitzer WeissBurgunder Sudsteiermark

Discreet, pretty, lightly floral, green apple. High acids, lean. Bright. Simple, fresh. Like it. Tasted May 2017.

87 2016 Sattlerhof Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark

The entry level bottling, from younger vines and some purchased grapes. It’s the only non-organic wine in the range. Clean, fresh, light, mid-ripe-grassy-fresh. Vaguely off-dry impression on the palate, decent length and depth. A perfectly pleasing, crisp white. Tasted May 2017.


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The leading South Styrian producer in terms of quality and size, farming 110ha from Sausal right down to, and across, the Slovenina border (the latter wines come under Domaine Ciringa). 60% of production is sauvignon blanc. Manfred Tement and sons Armin and Stefan meticulously run the vineyards and winery. The Tement style is ripe, dense and highly stony-salty, decidedly non-fruity, very compelling with terrific age-ability at the top level. since 2010 there has been no sulphur added until bottling, and all wines are wild fermented and go through full malo, and are bottled unfined and unfiltered except for the klassik range. A terroir obsession has lead to multiple bottlings from small parcels within the same vineyard, especially within the monopole grosse lage Zieregg, arguably Styria’s top site, making for fascinating comparisons. There are no weaknesses in this portfolio.

Armin Tement in the Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

Armin Tement in the Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

95 2015 Tement Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg  Sudsteiermark

A fine, very stony, complete, intense example, with ample structure, fruit and botanical elements, and a notable absence of tropical fruit and pyrazine. The flavour spans mid-range citrus green apple fruit spectrum, though mineral-stoniness is the dominant force. This is an exceptional wine, surely among the best sauvignons in Styria (and all of Austria). This will also age magnificently no doubt. Tasted May 2017.

94 2015 Tement Ried Grassnitzberg Erste Lage Sudsteiermark

From two parcels planted in the 1950s (the oldest vines in the Tement portfolio), and one parcel in the late 1990s. It’s also the coolest vineyard, considered a grosse lage (grand cru) in-house. The 2015 has a rather discreet nose, very botanical, while the palate delivers crackling acids, and palpable tannins (all parcels were given skin contact, up to 24  hours, and these grapes always have the thickest skins out of all the crus). Flavour intensity is superb on the palate, deep and satisfying. Long, very long finish. Salty, succulent, tannic. Terrific wine. Tasted May 2017.

Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

Grassnitzberg Erste Lage

94 2015 Tement Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg-Dreieck  Sudsteiermark

The Dreieck parcel is brown marl on limestone, high in iron, and oxide of iron, and the wine is more open, fresh, citrusy, bright, relative to other Zieregg parcels. I like the marvellously tonic, botanical aspect, the lemony acids and the long finish. Very streamlined and with loads of power on the back end. Tasted May 2017.

94 2015 Tement Zieregg Morillon Sudsteiermark

Not yet bottled, but ready. Very smoky, not to say reductive, but lemony fresh, fullish, with impressive concentration. This is like top level white Burgundy. Tannins are also noted – this will need a few years in bottle to settle into its own. High pH soil. Tasted May 2017.

93 2015 Tement Ried Sernau Grosse Lage Sudsteiermark

2.5ha, up to 530m. Pure gravel, no limestone, the last site to be harvested each year. Quite vegetal (“it’s our gin tonic in the range”). Cucumber, juniper. A paradox of ripeness and herbal-vegetal, but not green character. Again a more textural wine, with great length. Tasted May 2017.

93 2015 Tement Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg Weisse Wand Sudsteiermark

Called the “White Wall “parcel from the bright white/blue marl soils, very high in magnesium and calcium, and thus high pH. This is open and fragrant-fruity, more tangerine and orange peel, and lemony than any of the other single parcel Zieregg wines. It’s immediately appealing, salty. with lovely crunchy acids and fine length. Tasted May 2017.

92 2015 Tement Ried Sulz Morillon Sudsteiermark

From the stoniest/marly southwest side of the cru, aged in 1000l cask and old pièces. Discreet wood, firm texture, juicy acids, power and length notable. Palpably chewy- lots of substance here, and very good length. Serious wine, uniquely positioned between Chablis and Corton in style. Tasted May 2017.

Tractor work in the Zieregg Grosse Lage

Tractor work in the Zieregg Grosse Lage

92 2015  Tement Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg Steinbruch Sudsteiermark Darker, more earthy, strong acids, all tartaric, up front, strong tannins too. Shorter on the back end, but still excellent. Tasted May 2017.

92 2015 Tement Zieregg Weisseburgunder Sudsteiermark

From a barrel sample, but ready to bottle. Long time on the skins. Citrus, green nut fruit, crunchy lemony acidity, juicy and tart. Great intensity and length, textural, but firm not overly creamy. Exceptional length. Tasted May 2017.

91 2015 Tement Ries Sulz Weisserburgunder Sudsteiermark

The warmest cru in the portfolio, with sandy-marl-clay and humus, quite fertile and rich, planted exclusively to Burgundy varieties. This pinot blanc is aged in old 700 casks (more oxidative ageing required for the site), and offer marvellous perfume, lightly reductive and mineral, with yellow and green fruit, and a minimum of wood influence. Love the sapidity and succulence here, and the saline finish. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Tement Berghausener Sauvignon Blanc Ortswein Sudsteiermark

From two vineyards, including the steep Vielitsch giving structure and power (near the Weisse Wand), mainly limestone and clay. 36 hours on the skins, fermented in oak. Nice nose here, more botanical than varietal sauvignon-driven. I like the reductive side, the tacky-talcy texture and the fine length. Lovely stuff. Edgy. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Tement Morillon Muschelkalk (“shell limestone”) Sudsteiermark

The ‘basic’ chardonnay in the range, aged 18 months in 3000-4000l cask and 228l light toast barriques. A clean, light, low wood impact, stony, white flower and lemon-scented style, crispy and fresh. No signs of malo here, but fully completed (harvested at low malic acid so it doesn’t really show). very good length. Tasted May 2017.

90 2016 Tement Ottenberger Veitlhansl Welschriesling Sudsteiermark

A relatively flat cru, with red sand and sandy-clay-limestone, a tough soil for grapes that gets compacted when dry and swells when wet. Small berries, big concentration. This is palpable tannic, firm, with modest fruit, more mineral. Unfined, unfiltered. very good length. Revisit in 2-3 years. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Domaine Ciringa (Tement) Fosilini Breg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Slovenia

From 10 year old vines planted in the best spot near the top of the hill on virtually pure limestone. Bottled today. Half of the lot is kept on lees after fermentation, leading to an exotic and reductive expression, with pear skin and botanical flavours. The palate is earthy and chalky, with tight acids. The Fosilini is clearly a classy site with enormous potential – a site to watch as the vines age and Tement masters the vinification and matches it to the vineyard. Tasted May 2017.

89 2016 Domaine Ciringa (Tement) Fosilini Breg Sauvignon Blanc Slovenia

From Tement’s Slovenian vineyards across the border, the “Ciringa project was a dream of ours”, says Armin Tement, having once been an undivided region. This is notably more reductive than the Tement Klassik, with flinty minerality in spades, tightly wound acids, and crispy green fruit. Solid length. Great value for stony wine lovers. Tasted May 2017.

Armin Tement in the Grassnitzberg

Armin Tement in the Grassnitzberg

89 2016 Tement Gelber Muskateller Ried Steinbach Sudsteiermark

Pure red river sand. A less flowery and obvious, more serious example of muskateller, quite ripe, full, fleshy, even a touch mineral. Weighty, serious palate, not an easy drinking spritzer style by any means. Salty, iron finish. Bloody. High iron soils, manga (oxidized iron). Tasted May 2017.

88 2016 Tement Steirische Klassik Sauvignon Blanc. Sudsteiermark

Clean, fresh, dry, crispy, green apple and lemon-lime flavoured, with just a touch of passion fruit and green pepper, and very little overtly herbal character. CO2 tingle. Blend of 13 crus/55 parcels. Tasted May 2017.


Since 2009, Gerhard Wohlmuth has made the wines at this top Sausal-based, 65-hectare estate, in the family since 1803. Only estate wines are produced from an impressive collection of vineyards, and no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides are used, though organic certification is not the goal. Wolhmuth reserves the option of using systemic fungal sprays, finding these better for the environment than excessive use of copper (permitted in organic regimes). Gerhard Sr. drove the initial success of the business, among the earliest Styrian wineries to export in a significant way, starting in the late 1980s (and is still involved). Wohlmuth remains one of the most successful exporting companies, sending up to half of production outside of Austria, to 23 countries. The main focus is the on-trade, and Wohlmuth wines are found in many Michelin-starred restaurants, explaining the elegant, delicate, discreet, cool styling of the wines, highly versatile and food-friendly. “I’m searching for an interplay between warm and cool character”, says Wohlmuth, as well as concentrating on vineyard character, and especially the slate and schist expression of the Sausal region. The sauvignon portfolio is excellent; riesling is also a specialty, among the best in Styria.

Gerhard Wohlmuth in the Edelschuh Vineyard

Gerhard Wohlmuth in the Edelschuh Vineyard

93 2015 Wolmuth Ried Edelschuh Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

An extremely steep, grand cru site with brownish- blue slate soils. This is a little more lifted than the mean, very floral and ripe, with no thiol (passion fruit) or pyrazine (green pepper) character noted, in fact I might not have guessed sauvignon blind. The fruit profile doesn’t really fit into any standard box, or perhaps this is the Styrian box. Wood is noted on the finish, but this will get absorbed in short order. I love the finesse here, the fine lines, the lithe, delicate, refined profile. Excellent wine. Tasted May 2017.

92 2015 Wolmuth Ried Hochsteinriegl Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

A particularly steep (up to 80% grade), stony site on reddish slate, considered grand cru at Wohlmuth, planted to 40 year old vines. Whole bunch pressed and wild fermented in 500 and 600l cask, 100% new but low toast, on full lees for a year, and fine lees for another 5-6 months. The upper part is warmer than the other parts of the Steinriegl and this is very ripe and subdued for SB in new wood, fullish, powerful, very salty-mineral, more reductive than the Edelschuh, lots of mineral character. Light wood emerges on the finish. Excellent wine. Tasted May 2017.

92 2015 Wolmuth Riesling Ried Edelschuh Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

36 and 66 year old vines are wild fermented in old 600l cask, one year on the full lees. Really pretty nose here, ripe, floral, evolving. Lovely pear and white peach, delicate honey. 13.5% alcohol – I would have guessed less. Focused and tight despite the ripe vintage. This makes a strong case for Sausal riesling. Really lovely.  Salty-mineral finish, unique to this region.  Tasted May 2017.

92 2016 Wolmuth Sauvignon Blanc Ried Steinriegl Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Red slate sands quartzite. Wild fermented in old 2000l cask. Rather ripe and honeyed, beeswax-inflected and herbal-botanical, with no thiols or obvious pyrazines. This is lifted and fine, very refined and elegant – I really like the finesse here, the later ripening lends full flavour with moderate alcohol and high dry extract. Very good length. I can’t say archetypical Styrian style, but tailor made for fans of finesse and refinement. Tasted May 2017.

90 2016 Wolmuth Kitzecker Sauvignon Blanc Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

2016: shorter vegetation period, only 10hl/ha thanks to the frost. This has a touch of pyrazine character, high acids, bone dry palate, but not green in the NZ way, more delicate. I like the green flower character, and the ripe acids, very fine. Moderate finish. Classy. Tasted May 2017.

90 2015 Wolmuth Ried Sausaler Schlössl Chardonnay Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

Wohlmuth’s top elevation vineyard up to 580m above sea level, with old vines on blue slate, open to the cooling effect of the Alps. Picked late October, wild fermented in new 500l barrels. Typical cool climate, barrel fermented chardonnay profile on the nose; and still a bit raw on the palate with some tannins noted. Wood also drives the back end for now. This needs lots of time. Acids are clearly sharp and fine, and the extract is quite high, but in the lighter Wohlmuth style. Also salty. Very promising. Tasted May 2017.

89 2016 Wolmuth Gelber Muskateller Ried Steinriegl Sudsteiermark (Sausal) From west and southwest facing slate slopes. Wild fermented in stainless, around 20-24º, on full lees till January, fine lees until May. (70% of crop lost to frost in 2016). Light, fruity, SO2 still noted, precise and clean. A more flowery version on the nose, but the acids are bright and tight, and the saltiness is palpable. Delicate crisp, bone dry.  Precise and chiselled, surprising length for such a delicate wine. Tasted May 2017.

89 2016 Wolmuth Kitzecker Riesling Sudsteiermark (Sausal)

A blend of three vineyards, all slate. Whole bunch pressed, wild fermented in 2000 casks, on the lees till May. 12.5% alcohol. A little closed on the nose, though underlying honey, acacia flower, citrus and white fruit, beeswax emerge. The palate is essentially dry, lean, delicate, floral again. Recently bottled; needs time to open – try after 2018. Tasted May 2017.

Austrian wine regions