Weingut Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen region of Germany is one the greatest wineries in Europe if you are in the know. They are the only winery in the world to have received 100 points for the same wine in three separate vintages, for their incredibly rare trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). Johannes Hasselbach hadn’t intended on running his family’s estate, until in 2010 when his father became ill (since recovered), and his sister who had been involved with the winemaking relocating to Austria to work with her husband. An intrepid philosophy led Johannes to travel and explore, and he has slowly began to introduce this into the winery since then. He joined me in the Treasury Gardens of Melbourne on a sunny morning to talk about his journey.
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Johannes Hasselbach from Weingut Gunderloch working hard in the vineyard
Several important wine critics have indicated that the Austrian white grape variety gruner veltliner presents amazing potential for cultivation in Australia. My sommelier friend James Dossan and I sit down to chat about the origin of the grape, the classic styles made in Austria, and then proceed to taste through a range of different wines from Austria, New Zealand and Australia.
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Most of the wines we tried were from the 2011 vintage and were thus very young and shy.
There was great vibrancy and freshness, and often a natural spritz to the gruner veltliner and riesling wines.
The older vine wines tended to also have a natural fruit sweetness to them whilst remaining dry, and in some cases a nutty texture and complexity.
The major difference I found was with the age of the vines, as the Alte Reben 2011 Riesling was fuller, denser and had a very complex savoury white meat character.
The red wines were generally good but nothing too exciting apart from the Ladner St. Laurent 2008 which was both dense and spicy as well as being supple and mellow.
Some of the Brundlmayer wines
Although it’s nowhere near as luxurious as some of the rental cars I’ve been driving on my trip so far, it is so nice to have my own car and not worry about the daily costs involved. The 1995 Volkswagon Golf I bought for €500 was in reasonable condition but through a friend I had someone take a look and replace a few things. Otherwise it wouldn’t have even survived the eight-hour drive down to Wachau, let alone all around Europe this year. It is also great being in another new country, far away from the previous place so that the scenery looks very different. I will say that the Niederosterreich region on the banks of the Danube River reminds me a little bit of the Rheingau region of Germany, but the people and most importantly the wines are quite different. About a third of the vineyards are planted on flatter slopes, and the rest is planted on the steeper terraced slopes where you find the better parcels on primary rock with less loam. There are two major varieties; riesling and gruner veltliner, and I am here to find out more about them.
|Domäne Wachau in Durnstein