Austrian Sparkling Wine: a masterclass

This session was presented by Sasha Speicher at the Arlberg Weinberg 2023 in Lech, Austria. Sasha is an excellent presenter and was concise, accurate and informative. A benchmark in how to do a masterclass.

This is a developing category: it was only as recently in 2015 when the current classification pyramid was formalized, which splits Austrian sparkling wine into three tiers. The entry level – Austrian Sekt – is a political compromise, so we are focusing here on the upper two tiers in the pyramid, Sekt Reserve (minimum 18 months on the lees, hand harvested) and Sekt Grosse Reserve (hand harvested, minimum 36 months on the lees).

From this tasting of 12 wines in four categories, it seems that some of the excitement in Austria about this category is justified. Sasha says that there’s currently no mobile disgorgement service in Austria, but that this would be a good business to start.


Schloss Gobelsburg Sekt Reserve Brut Rosé NV Austria
11.5% alcohol. Mostly Zweigelt, which is good for sekt because it has a stable acidity. Lively citrus and cranberry aromatics. Really fresh and lively with nice fruit purity and keen acidity, with some sweet and sour cherry character. Vivid and pure with nice presence. 91/100

Loimer Sekt Reserve Brut Rosé NV Austria
12% alcohol. Zweigelt and Pinot Noir with a touch of St Laurent. 7 g/l dosage. Hint of apple with the lime and cherry on the nose. Nice acidity here with fresh cherries and some raspberry, showing nice presence on the palate. Fine toasty hints. Really appealing. 91/100

Harkamp Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Nature Rose ‘Sol’ 2016 Steiermark, Austria
12% alcohol. 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Blanc from the pioneer of sekt in Styria. Highly aromatic and toasty with nice intensity. Toast, cherries, pears and lemons on the palate with nice toastiness and a sense of focus to the fruit. Very sophisticated. Beautiful balance here. 93/100

Blanc de Blancs

Markus Altenberger Sekt Brut Nature ‘Blank Zero Dosage’ 2017 Austria
11.5% alcohol. Five varieties with Welschriesling, Traminer and Neuberger in the mix. Full gold in colour. Powerful and impactful with some ripe apple, pear and a touch of citrus. Has some oxidative development with toast and nuts, very appley and bold, with nice acidity in the background. So much flavour here: not classic, but really delicious. Be warned, though: this has a lot of personality. 92/100

Loimer Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs 2014 Austria
11.5% alcohol. 60% Chardonnay, the balance Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Toast, honey and spice on the nose with some savoury development. The palate has lovely acidity and nice toasty complexity alongside the lovely lemony fruit. Chiselled acidity here with nice intensity. Lots of flavour, and could be heavy if it wasn’t for the remarkable, fine acid line. 93/100

Tement Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Nature NV Austria
12% alcohol. Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Zesty lemony nose with some sherbetty characters. Pure, fresh and linear with good acidity and nice purity. There’s a real sense of freshness and brightness here. Delightful stuff with real appeal. 91/100

Blanc de Noirs

Bründlmayer Sekt Reserve Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 2016 Austria
12% alcohol. Lively zesty cherry and lime on the nose with a hint of woodsmoke and struck flint. Powerful palate with keen acidity showing lovely fruit and intensity. Lime and pear with a touch of apple, hemmed in by very high acidity, keeping things fresh. Finishes with a twist of orange peel and cherry, and more toast. 93/100

Ebner-Ebenauer Sekt Brut Nature Blanc de Noirs Zero Dosage 2015 Austria
Lovely fine aromatics here with crystalline citrus fruit, a touch of fine toast, and a hint of green apple. Such purity here with brilliant focus and purity, showing such a nice acid line. Amazing focus: this is really good. Lots of vinous character but also a lot of freshness. 94/100

Jurtschitsch Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Nature Blanc de Noirs 2013 Austria
12% alcohol. Real aromatic complexity here: toast, lime, apples, a touch of honey, some baked bread. Complex but still quite subtle. Tart and a little sour, in a nice way, with a beautiful acid line. Very fine and expressive with subtlety, depth and precision. 93/100

Grosse Reserve

Schlumberger Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Blanc de Blancs 2017 Austria
13% alcohol. One of the pioneers and the biggest, with 10 million bottles. Toasty, rich and appealing with pear and peach fruit as well as some citrus on the nose. Nice depth of flavour, with some rich bready, toasty notes. Lots of appeal here: a classic rich toasty style, with some buttery characters. Nice fruit. 90/100

Malat Sekt Grosse Reserve Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs 2016 Austria
12.5% alcohol. Chardonnay. This has nice depth and richness, but also a sense of precision. Fruity but also toasty, with citrus, cherry and some pear fruit with appealing nuts and spice. It’s rich, but also shows lovely balance, with a savoury twist. Fine and expressive. 93/100

Schloss Gobelsburg Grosse Reserve Extra Brut 2010 Austria
12% alcohol, 70% Grüner Veltliner. Interesting aromatics here: a touch of dairy, some toast, and appealing citrus fruit. The palate is lively with bright acidity, showing intense citrus and pear fruit with a touch of green apple and some nice intensity on the finish with some sour cherry and spice characters. 93/100