Chris & Mark's Austrian adventure
Early November saw Chris and Mark taking a whistle-stop tour to Austria to visit the wonderful growers with whom we are working, to taste recent vintage releases and to catch up with new developments. I am delighted to report that the fruits of that visit are now newly arrived and are well worthy of your consideration.
Hans & Andi Gsellmann
The Gsellmann’s have been growing grapes in Gols since 1800 but in recent years things have developed significantly and they now have over 40 hectares under vine. The real star of the show here was the “Pannobile” white, a Weissburgunder of exceptional balance and charm which will, unquestionably, be on our next shipment in the new year. Pannobile is a group of 9 of the top growers in Gols who have joined forces to collaborate with each other, openly sharing ideas, experiences and support. Their goal was to create individual and unique wines that would compete with the very best of the world. Every year they each produce 2 wines, a red and a white, which they submit to their fellow members who will assess whether the wines are worthy of carrying the “Pannobile” label. It requires a “no” vote from only one member for a wine to be rejected, hence the standard is exceptionally high. Production is very low for this but we do have a handful of bottles available at £17.95 per bottle.
Bernhard is, without question, one of Austria’s more colourful characters whose adherence to biodynamism is now bordering on obsessive. His hands-off approach to wine production has taken an even more extreme twist with his newly released Gruner Veltliner “Qvevre,” a wine produced in earthenware amphoras imported from Georgia.
Having excavated a sizeable hole in an outbuilding, Bernhard filled this with 500 litre and 1,000 litre amphora which he then surrounded with soil taken from the vineyard. Come harvest time, his best grapes were de-stemmed and thrown whole into the amphora where nature was allowed to take its course. 6 months on, having fermented and settled perfectly naturally, the resulting wine was pumped out and bottled. It is one of the most extraordinary wines I have ever come across – incredibly intense initially albeit closed on the mid-palate with a balanced minerality on the finish. We have sold 2 of our allocation already, I am taking a third which leaves us with 3 bottles at £47.50 each. 1st come, 1st served.
Also in Blog
12 months ago, shortly after the destructive reality of Covid became evident, I wrote a piece for a trade magazine (recently uploaded to our blog here…)
in which I opened with the very real sense of helplessness and fear which I am sure I shared with the vast majority of the planet. At the time, it seemed almost like staring into a black hole, knowing that you had to take the next step but blind to whatever lay below. I remember thinking (and saying to anyone prepared to listen) that this was “our generation’s war,” we’d never experienced anything approaching global conflict and in 2020 we’d reached payback time, only to be faced with an adversary that responded neither to bombs nor white flags (nor bleach). Frightened for ourselves, for our friends and families and frightened for businesses and careers that we’d spent lifetimes developing, all we could do, it seemed, was to keep washing our hands and hope for the best.
Back in spring 2020, Chris was asked to write a piece for the Wine Merchant Mag, a specialist trade publication, about his thoughts during, what was then, an unprecedented national lockdown. Published in May, we present the text to you here-
In northern Spain, some 95km south of Bilbao and bisected almost laterally by the River Ebro lies Spain’s most popular and famous wine region, a region of some 66,000 hectares of vineyards worked by 14,800 growers and dominated by some of the most celebrated names in the wine world.
It started early on a Saturday in June. I’m minded to say that it disturbed my lie-in but it was way earlier than that that my phone first pinged to announce the arrival of a new website order. (I wonder if Jeff Bezos has the same app on his phone?). Ignored it, rolled over and 5 minutes later it went again. And again. And etc, etc. Finally, before switching the thing off, curiosity got the better of me and I opened up the online shop to find a stream of orders for a wine that I fell in love with 2 years ago but that we had failed to make much headway with – Coteaux du Giennois, Terre de Silex from Clement & Florian Berthier,