Claus Preisinger works 19 hectares and some sixty parcels biodynamically, between the vast Austrian Neusiedlersee and the Hungarian border. He makes a variety of beautiful wines. This is in a way a “glou-glou”, an easy drinking wine, but can also be used on the table. The wine is made from zweigelt and st. laurent in stainless steel, with spontaneous fermentation, and aged in large foudres.
The bottle and the label hints to the vintage lemonade bottles from a hundred years back. Puszta in Hungarian means “plains”, remembering that on the time of these bottles this was still part of Hungary. Libre is Cuban -sorry: Spanish- for “free”. Why not?
Enjoy the wine, life – feel free!
Puszta Libre! 2020(Claus Preisinger)
Dark cherry red. Aroma of blackberry, cranberry, flowers and a touch of lickorice. Luscious and juicy in the mouth, with smooth tannins.
Food: Excellent on its own, but can be used with light meat, white fish, salads, hard cheeses, and try also with not too pungent blue cheeses. Best drunk slightly chilled.
This is a wine that I have thought about a long time. I include it here, “for the records”, maybe. Because the last thing I did before the pandemia rules were introduced in my country, was visiting the Rawfair, that after all didn’t take place.
One of my favourite London wine bars is DuckSoup, of Soho, near two leading jazz clubs, Ronnie Scott’s and the Pizza Express. This week’s wine was enjoyed there, one day or two before entering a very surprising quarantine indeed.
Martin & Anna Arndorfer work very naturally, and stress the importance of the soil. They say they do not feel bound by tradition, but still they emphasize the influence of the vineyard as crucial to their philosophy. And there they maintain the natural ecosystem. Most wines are unfiltered, and sulphur and chemicals are avoided, though they have never certified anything.
This wine is from their Strasser vineyard of 1976, with sandy and clayey soil. Biodynamically farmed, only a total of 20 mg/L sulphur, short maturation in steel, unfiltered.
Handcrafted Grüner Veltliner 2018(Arndorfer)
Light yellow colour. Fresh, vibrant, with yellow fruits, herbs, almost spicy. Juicy, luscious and light in the mouth, with enough acidity, and finishes dry.
This was one of the wines that stood out in a private blindfold Alsace tasting, with unusually many wrong guesses about which ones were rieslings. However this one couldn’t go wrong, with its steely acidity and inspiring energy.
The name Brand, meaning land of fire, is a reminder that this part of the hill once was eroded by fire. The legend goes that the sun fought a dragon here. It hid in a dark cavern under the vineyard, thus being responsible for the characteristic “warmth” of this grand cru. Only riesling is planted, a total of 2.4 hectares, and now around 70 years of age.
The Brand is located just above the village of Turckheim, itself in the outskirts of the bigger town Colmar. Here we find several small granite hills. It is not far from the Munster valley, so which means that despite its south, south-east facing, it also sees the wind running down the valley. As indicated above, the granite warms up quickly (not necessarily because of that dragon, to be honest) and secures that heat from the sun go deep in the soil. The roots grow deep, and feed from the clay and minerals from the granite decomposition. Yields are naturally low here. Due to the ripeness of the grapes in 2019, the fermentation was particularly slow for this wine, but it went on and on, and eventually the wine was bone dry after a 12 months fermentation.
Some keywords: Biodynamically farmed, handpicked, spontaneous fermentation, 16 months on lees and a total of 18 months on big old barrels.
Brand Grand Cru 2019(Zind Humbrecht)
Bright gold colour. The nose is discreet at first, but opens up with air. It shows citric notes (mature lime, towards clementine), but also a stony wet minerality associated with granite. On the palate it is powerful and acidic, but also with some warmth behind there. It has a persistent aftertaste, already in balance and harmony, and a saline finish. This said, the wine is young and will reveal a lot more complexity over time. But it it’s now you must buy if you want to enjoy it in a few years.
Food: We had prepared rather down-to-earth, Alsatian inspired food like pig cutlets and bratwurst, and red cheese (like the local Munster), but it tackles a lot of tasty dishes, both light meat and tasty fish. At this point food is almost essential, as we have mentioned, it’s very young.
A Ponte comes from a crazily steep amphitheater-shaped vineyard, on top of the hill above the more famous Meixemán vineyard. We are in Ribeira Sacra of Galicia, Spain, and Guímaro is one of the best representatives of the new wave of producers. Pedro Manuel Rodríguez Pérez started the project in 1991, but relied on many generations of his family’s work.
The vineyard sits on granitic, slate and sandy soils. Pedro and his father planted in 2010 equal parts of mencía, caíño tinto, merenzao, brancellao and sousón, all indegenous from Ribeira Sacra and around (Galicia and northern Portugal). The wine is made similar to the other Guímaro reds: The grapes are handpicked, macerated for 35 days (here a bit shorter than normal), then alcoholic fermentation is carried out at a controlled temperature of 25ºC. After malolactic fermentation follows an ageing for 12 months in used French oak barrels, before a light clarification.
Normally Pedro has worked with almost exclusively mencía grapes for his reds. But we have seen that the climate is changing, and to meet the future he decided to plant the five varieties in almost equal parts. Mencía is there, but the other varieties are known for retaining the acidity even with more ripeness.
A Ponte 2017(Guímaro)
Dark cherry colour. Dark and red berries on the nose (blackberry, morello, plums), and some herbs. Medium-bodied and well-structured, good acidity for a warm year, long. An expressive and individual wine without oakiness, and a good candidate for medium-term ageing (+/- 5 years). With good airing it can also be enjoyed now, and why not in company with a good roast.
The Winery of Good Hope is found in Stellenbosch, in South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. They claim to avoid “the flashy stuff” of industry and make quality wine with a conscience. They are located on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, and make wines using traditional, natural viticultural and winemaking methods. They are alto certificated for environmental, ethical, and social-conscious practices.
For the Full Berry Fermentation Pinotage they work with two vineyards, one in Northern Stellenbosch and the other in southeastern Swartland. The former is sandy with decomposed quartz and granite soils, and contributes to a certain texture. The latter sits on weathered, granite derived soils, that is mostly responsible for the fruitiness.
Some keywords: Handpicked grapes, whole berries in vat, spontaneous fermentation in steel, unfiltered.
Full Berry Fermentation Pinotage 2019(The Winery of Good Hope)
Dark cherry. Fruity, with blueberry and red berries cherry, plum), herbs, some licorice. Young and juicy, a charming wine at a very good price.