Leithaberg: wines from a distinctive Austrian DAC
The Leithaberg DAC is a relatively new one. Part of Austria’s Burgenland region, it makes some very smart wines from distinctive terroirs.
The Leithaberg DAC is located in the north of Burgenland in Austria, west of Lake Neusiedlersee. It was created in 2008 (for whites) and 2009 (for reds), and DAC status was awarded as recently as 2010. Here was a chance to taste some of the wines from the DAC, in the company of one of the producers, Georg Prieler.
With 2500 hectares of vines, it was planted as far back as the 12th Century, although most of its history goes back to the 15th Century. Every hundred years the authorities made records of all the vineyards for tax purposes, so the historical record of this region is an exceptional one.
There are 35 villages in the DAC, and the vineyard definitions are currently being worked on. 40 founding winemakers were involved in establishing the subregion.
There are two key soil types, which aren’t normally found so close together. First of all, there’s schist (a mica schist, similar to that found in Bierzo, Priorat and Côte Rôtie), and the second is Leithakalk, a chalky active limestone similar to that found in Champagne.
The climate is moderated by the proximity to Lake Neusiedl, which is a very shallow lake only 1.5 m deep, known as the ocean of the non-swimmers.
The reds are made from Blaufrankisch (85% minimum, with other varieties allowed up to 15%) and have to be aged in barrel, but the aim is that the barrel influence doesn’t dominate the wine. Whites are made of Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay or Neuberger.
Remarkably, 60% of Leithaberg vineyards are organically certified.
Tinhof Neuberger 2017 Leithaberg, Austria
Chalky limestone soils. Fermented and aged in large casks. Linear and precise with lovely supple, fresh citrus fruit, and some pear and grape. Bright and linear with subtle nutty notes. 92/100
Prieler Pinot Blanc 2017 Leithaberg, Austria
Chalky limestone soils close to the lake. 2-3 days on skins then fermented and aged in large casks. Very linear, lively and fresh with bright lemon fruit and some melon richness. There’s a rounded texture with hints of honey and smooth fruit. Very fine and crystalline. Has harmony. 93/100
Sommmer Ried Himmelreich 2016 Leithaberg, Austria
This is Gruner Veltliner from a single vineyard, grown on schist. Very textural with rich, smooth pear and apple fruit, and a lovely lush palate showing softness in the middle, yet also having good concentration and elegance. 92/100
Birgit Braunstein Chardonnay Felsenstein 2018 Leithaberg, Austria
Chalky limestone soils. Supple and linear and focused with lovely acidity. Shows lemons, pears and a bit of apple. Lovely tension here and nice precision. 93/100
Prieler Blaufrankisch 2016 Leithaberg, Austria
From chalky limestone soils near to the lake. Very fresh and mineral with lovely finesse. Pure and linear with vivid cherries and raspberries with brightness and some tannic structure. A pure, linear wine. 94/100
Nehrer Feurer 2015 Leithaberg, Austria
Chalky limestone soils close to the lake. Fresh but sweetly fruited with a slightly gravelly edge to the fruit. This is juicy and linear with nice red fruits and a chalky edge. 91/100
Prieler Blaufrankisch 2007 Leithaberg, Austria
Some development here, with a touch of decay on the nose. Earth, spice and herbs. The palate has some elegance but it’s an old wine now. 88/100
Tinhof Blaufrankisch 2015 Leithaberg, Austria
Some development, but also nice fresh red fruits. Shows good acidity and some bright fruit to the fore. 90/100
St Zehetbauer Steinberg 2015 Leithaberg, Austria
Schist soils. Supple and quite elegant with nice fine-grained red cherries and plums. A very elegant style that’s grainy and detailed with lovely fruit and also some non-fruit complexity. 93/100
Prieler Goldberg 2015 Leithaberg, Austria
Fresh and linear with lovely acid. Linear and fresh with good structure and nice precision. Nice linear red fruits with good acidity, and a long finish. 94/100
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