Highlights : Hajszan-Neumann 2016 Gemischter Satz Natural, Wiener Gemischter Satz DAC Nussberg, Austria

With a name like Fritz Wieninger, you have to trust that wine, and Vienna, is in his blood. Fritz is a pioneer of the New Vienna wine movement, combining modernity and progress with the traditions of the region and of his family, who have been making wine for over 100 years. Fritz is the winemaker for two Viennese wineries: Wieninger, and Hajszan Neumann. Hajszan Neumann is Fritz’ natural project, where he has greater flexibility to experiment with low-to-no intervention winemaking techniques. Both wineries are certified biodynamic; Fritz is the co-president of RESPEKT with Fred Loimer, as well as a founding member and chairman of the Wien Wein growers association. The vineyards and wineries are in the heart of Vienna, Wien as the locals call it, and the only city in the world where vineyards flourish inside city limits. Steeped in history, the Nussberg vineyard sites house some of the oldest vines in Austria.

Fritz grew up in the family heurige (wine tavern) serving the wines produced by his mother, one of the first female graduates from the enology program at Klosterneuburg. After completing his studies and spending a year in California, Fritz returned to Vienna intent on producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He was encouraged by Franz Mayer to continue growing Gemischter Satz, a field blend of different white varieties cultivated and vinified together. Gemischter Satz has been a traditional wine of Viennese heurigen, following Joseph II’s decree releasing wine sales from the State to the producer. The heurigen culture originated from the sale of Gemischter Satz, as winemakers sought a way to share their seasonal bounty in an approachable, easy way. It was the original farm to table wine.

The style fell out of favour as consumers started gravitating towards single-variety wines. In the late eighties many Gemischter Satz vineyards were dug up, left fallow, or replanted with a single variety. However, a few winemakers in Wien were determined to bring Wiener Gemischter Satz back and reclaim their cultural wine from obscurity. Among these pioneers was Stefan Hajszan, who was the first winemaker to cultivate his Wiener Gemischter Satz vineyards, 20 hectares on the Nussberg, biodynamically. Thanks to Stefan and other winemakers, Wiener Gemischter Satz garnered a DAC designation since the 2013 vintage. This is the first time an Austrian wine style as well as a growing region has been codified.

The grapes for this natural Gemischter Satz 2016 come from two old vineyards on the Wiener Nußberg: Ried Weissleiten, and Ried Ulm. The soil of both is comprised of limestone and clay, with a very high chalk component throughout. The 2016 is a blend of Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Traminer, native fermented on skins in concrete eggs with no sulphur or other additions. Post-ferment, it remains in the eggs for more than 5 months, after which it is racked off into neutral 500L barrels where it rested for 6 weeks before bottling unfined and unfiltered. Concentrated and heady, with dried apricot, dried peach, dried blossoms, quince, lychee, lime pith and orange oil, coated with a medicinal white cherry. There’s an ample fine grip and a heap of tension to keep this textural, natural, biodynamic orange wine alive to the finish. So much going on in this complexed wine, and it all works. 91/100

Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]