Heidi Schrock Vogelsang 2009

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Austrian wine is sadly absent from the BC market in any significant way. Lucky searchers will find a few producers here and there at the best specialty stores, but these wines represent a mere trickle of what Austria produces. Most consumers in BC have no experience or knowledge of Austrian wine, and this even includes aficionados and collectors. What is everyone missing out on? Some of the best white wines in the world priced a good 50% less than the best from Burgundy.

Innovation and Respect for the Indigenous

Heidi Schrock, new to the BC market, is one of Austria’s top winemakers. She is also the founder of an organization dedicated to promoting women winemakers in Austria. Her vineyards are located in Burgenland, in the town of Rust, which is only a few miles from the Hungarian border in eastern Austria. The vineyards here are unique in that they benefit from the temperature moderating influence of Lake Neusiedl, but lie in an amphitheatre of south-facing vineyards on sandy loam, limestone and clay soils with high calcium content. This combination produces wines with relatively high potential alcohol and a fruity, full body.

Schrock is experimental with grape varieties as well. Not only does she grow some of Austria’s key indigenous varieties, including Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder, and Welschriesling, she has also been an influential advocate for reintroducing varieties from Hungary that used to grow in Austria, such as Furmint.

A More Forward Terroir

I have been lucky enough to be introduced to the wines of Schrock by Jason, the sommelier at Chambar, and have since tried several. They are superb in both quality and value and each offers the idiosyncratic pleasure that comes only from Austrian white wine. However, unlike, for example, the intense, mineral laden Rieslings from the more northerly regions like Kamptal, Kremstal and Wachau (producers include Brundlmayer, Gobelsburg and Nikolaihof), Schrock’s wines are more forward and more lush, though they remain balanced and very much proper rather than sultry. This means they drink well immediately and don’t need the decade plus of aging required for the great north Austrian Rieslings and Gruner Veltliners.

Delicious and Idiosyncratic

The Vogelsand is a white blend from the vineyard of the same name. The composition varies from year to year. In 2009 the cepage was Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Gelber Muskateller. It’s a marvelous, easy to drink wine, with some residual sugar that is balanced very well with the acidity levels in the wine, thus making it taste fruity and only slightly off-dry. While there is little point providing descriptors of the fruit, I can say this wine is unique, aromatic, powerfully fruited but texturally silky and very easy to drink. It pairs very well with veal cutlets on portuguese buns with grainy mustard (what I ate with it).

Very Good+ and Highly Recommended Value
$32 at Kits Wine

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