Highlighting Austria’s lesser-known wine gems – by Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

The last article on this blog highlighted the ease with which we can now source varietals and wines from regions or producers once deemed too exotic or confusing for the Australian consumer. Our obsession with keeping abreast with what is going on in the so-called “prestige” regions of the old world had dazzled us to the point that we as consumers were blinded to the very real delights to be found just a little east of Europe’s more celebrated appellations.

At Hahndorf Hill we are working hard to one day bring Austrian varietals into the Australian mainstream consciousness. I release these articles into the wild in an effort to highlight the wines, styles and producers that until recently may have flown under the Australian radar. However, could my passion for a few superstars have deafened me to the greater orchestra?

Our adoration for Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch is clear to see and they are at the core of almost everything we do, but there are other treats peppered throughout eastern Europe and Austria in particular. Styles and varietals not yet covered in these Gru Files have danced across Austrian tables for generations and I for one think it is timely to look beyond the Gruners and Blaus and taste my way through some of their lesser known compatriots.

The Veltliner family tree is broad and gnarly; a history of divorces, affairs, adoptions and hyphenations have made getting a definitive pedigree maddeningly difficult. Even the highest profile member of the family – Gruner Veltliner – looks to have just “married in”; my study on Gruner’s relationship with the rest of the Veltliner family has taken me down several wormholes each more fascinating than the last and will no doubt feature here in the Gru Files one day.

Roter Veltliner on the other hand is considered a founding member of the Veltliner line, and even something of a viticultural Don Juan. Varieties such as Frühroter Veltliner, Neuburger, Rotgipfler and Zierfandler all have Rotor Veltliner blood and according to Wikipedia it is known by over 160 names! Christmas in the Rotor Veltliner household must get very tricky.

Compared with Gruner’s Austrian plantings of 14,423 hectares, Roter Veltliner’s plantings of 195 hectares or just .4% of Austria’s production put it firmly in the boutique bracket. The last few decades have seen a decline in in its footprint as it was originally planted on loess-heavy sites which are perfect for growing the higher value Gruner Veltliner. But as is so often the case there is a small group of producers who have refused to follow a market and have instead backed this ancestral variety.

There is very little literature to be found online about Kurt Angerer or his winery in the western end of the Kamptal, but the few sources all agree on several points. His wines are consistently delicious and despite his success Kurt has kept his feet on the ground, and isn’t that enough? The man would obviously prefer his wines do the talking and his 2016 Roter Veltliner has a lot to say.

Clean and lean best describes this wine’s arrival; like a bantam-weight boxer waiting to touch gloves before a fight, there is a barely contained energy to the green apple and citrus nose that almost can’t wait for the bell. This is not a frantic wine but a beautifully balanced combination of confident footwork and devastatingly precise punches. Distinctive and refreshing acid and slatey minerality keep this wine striding across the canvas to deliver a lime, white stone fruit and a green apple combination to the palate.

A delicious alternative to a Watervale Riesling or an Alto Adige Pinot Grigio. This wine will pair beautifully with natural oysters, seared salmon or trout, jalapeno peppers and roast pork.

Gemischter Satz or “Mixed Set” is a style of field blend made famous by Viennese producers but has been embraced all over Austria for centuries. The regulatory fine print varies from region to region but the bones are more or less the same; minimum of three varieties, co-picked from the one block then co-fermented with little to no detectable oak influence. I am deliberately over simplifying this style because I was so impressed with the example I most recently tried that I intend to devote an entire upcoming article exclusively to this exciting and richly varied category.

Rosi Schuster is a house best known for its traditional Austrian red varietals with a particular focus on St Laurent and Blaufrankisch. Hannes Schuster took on running the estate alongside his mother Rosi in 2005 and has overseen the transition to manage the family’s blocks organically whilst also building relationships with growers around Burgenland, thus giving him access to fruit from a diverse range of soil types. This reach has given Hannes the opportunity to experiment with new styles and he has been rewarded with a steady stream of accolades.

The 2015 “Aus Den Dorfern” (From The Villages) is a Gruner and Gemischter Satz blend; yes, it’s a blend of blends! This wine is a textbook example of how one region’s non-negotiable is another’s loose guideline. It was a little validating to know that even though I don’t have a large sample size having only tried five or six Gemischter Satz wines before, I could tell this example wasn’t made in the traditional style. This wine is 80% Gruner Veltliner and 20% not specified other whites which were all picked separately; both primary and malolactic fermentations were spontaneous and a significant portion of the Gruner saw oak.

Class, texture and sophistication define this wine; it sits in the glass like a pool of golden sunshine and it quite literally lit up the faces of all lucky enough to be at my table when I opened it. Delicately toasted nuts and honeyed peach make up the nose while a refreshing briny flint couples seamlessly with pear, apple and white spice on the palate.

I loved this wine and if you enjoy a Smaragd Gruner, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay or Fume-style Sauvignon Blanc, it will seduce you too. Roast poultry, seared scallops or spiced pork sausages on creamy mash will all partner impeccably.

At Hahndorf Hill we have made it our mission to explore beyond the familiar vinarius and to return home with treasures, trophies and tales to share. We firmly believe that there is no standing still; you are either pushing forward or falling behind and that is why we devote so much time and effort to looking, listening and learning, always hoping to inspire you to join us. This article touched on just two of the many as yet un-tasted treats to be found just east of famous and there are many more to come.

Prost! Jack

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Sourcing Austria’s finest wines in Australia – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

Wines from the Old World – the cellar at Austria’s Weingut Allram

The Australian wine market has always been dominated by local producers (and rightly so) with the import component largely ruled by New Zealand, France and Italy. And while the wines we are importing from the big three global-producing countries are famous for quality and eminence, they are not well known for stylistic innovation or varietal experimentation. New Zealand and Western European wine sales are still very strong here, but for how long?

When a bottle of red was passed around my father’s table, it would undoubtedly have been Shiraz, and someone ordering a glass of the house white at almost any bar could, until recently, safely expect a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This almost industry-wide homogeneity has been frustrating, but the light at the end of the varietal tunnel is getting much brighter. The last 20 or so years has seen a slow but steady revolution in Australian wine bars, restaurants, bottle shops and vineyards.

This quiet but implacable growth owes its momentum to several forces, all of which have made a conscious effort to look beyond the immediate whims and demands of the comfortable yet easily intimidated consumer. These brave few have scoured the earth in an effort to liven up and rejuvenate our dining tables and trendy wine bars.

Across the country courageous importers, sommeliers, retailers, journalists and vintners have put their money and reputations where their mouths are; and now the range available to the curious drinker in Australia has grown exponentially, and I for one thank them. We in Adelaide are particularly lucky to have Liinaa Berry of 2KW and Shaun Lau of Orana, two somms who have embraced Austrian varietals. Dan Traucki of Winestate Magazine has committed more column inches to Gruner Veltliner than anyone else I know, and importers such as Cellarhand and Vinous Imports have spent years chipping away at our resistance to anything difficult to pronounce.

Until recently the only place adventurous drinkers could find alternate varietals and styles was the boutique and independent bottle shops. For a generation now Adelaide’s Edinburgh Cellars, East End Cellars and Stirling Cellars have been challenging the status quo and offering a range of depth and quality. Nicks Wine Merchants and Blackhearts & Sparrows serve the Victorian and Canberran markets faithfully and Prince Wine Store keeps Sydney on the cutting edge.

The large supermarket-style and online retailers have also played their part in bringing alternate varietals and the traditionally ignored wine-producing regions to the public palate – Dan Murphy’s ranges a few wines from my friend Gerhard Pittnauer and a selection of Domäne Wachau. The online giant Vinomofo has also thrown its weight behind the cause and it is two of their wines that inspired this article.

Weingut Allram from the Kamptal wine region in Austria is a multi-generational family business with three tiers of kin actively involved on a daily basis. Like the other few houses who have earned the right to display the prestigious Erste Lage or “Grand Cru” insignia on their bottles, they know that all great wines begin in the vineyard. They see themselves as custodians of the land first and vintners second; every effort is made to care for each vine thus providing the best vehicle for the terroir to express itself. A “less is more” attitude in the winery allows each bottle to stay on message; to speak of the warm days that slip into chill nights, of the cool dark slate hidden below layers of calcareous loam and loess, and of the steady hands which care for each vine with reverence and respect.

Erich and Lorenz Haas of Weingut Allram in the Kamptal
Erich and Lorenz Haas of Weingut Allram in the Kamptal

Lorenz Haas-Allram took the wheel in the cellar from his father Erich in 2015 and his first few vintages in charge indicate he will be a steady pair of hands. He has held firm to the family’s viticultural and vinification philosophies and continues to blend ancestral experience with modern techniques and technology.

The 2016 “Renner” Gruner Veltliner is true to form; this wine is all about purity and structure. Apple, pear and white stone fruit ring like a bell while a delicate and faintly nutty bass line chaperones this orchard orchestra across the palate. There are a few common denominators in Gruners of this quality and the acid is one of them; this is a crisp and flinty wine that, while delicious now, has me rueing not ordering more. I predict this wine will age with grace and those lucky enough to sample it in another 10-12 years will be rewarded with a glass of pure sophistication and textured elegance.

This wine will sing with Coffin Bay oysters with just a twist of lemon, crunchy veggies in a light tempura batter or a good old fashioned roast chicken with all the sides.

The Wellanschitz family produced their first Burgenland Blaufrankisch over fifty years ago; several generations have since shaped the business but the original vision has never changed: Only the best will do. A member of the family is always personally involved in every step of the process and the firm never buys in fruit or wine.

Ripening grapes at Weingut Wellanschitz in Burgenland

I spoke before of certain qualities and philosophies being shared by many of Austria’s top houses; a deep respect for the terroir, scrupulous fruit selection and a light touch in the winery all mark out the elite producers and Weingut Wellanschitz deserves its place in such company. Their blocks are peppered across Mittelburgenland and cover a diverse range of sites; each selected for its unique terroir and voice, which is then allowed to say what it wants to say.

The “Well” block is a relatively flat site consisting of rich heavy clay with pockets of ironstone and is situated in the village of Horitschon, only a few minutes from the winery in Neckenmarkt and close to the region’s largest centre, Deutschkreutz. This article is all about the growing diversity available to the Australian drinker and the 2015 “Well” Blaufrankisch is a point within a point; this wine will provoke and intrigue even those who consider themselves to be “Blau literate”.

If Muhamad Ali could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’’, then this would have been the wine for him. The 2015 “Well” has the waistline of a Pinot or Syrah but delivers an aromatic jab and a tannin hook. Blackberries and cherries make up the primary fruits but don’t fret, there is tannin for days. This is no fruit salad; delicate oak and extended maceration have imparted a balance and sophistication that makes for pleasurable drinking now but hints at the treats that will reward the patient. If you were to put this wine down for another 10-12 years (as I fully intend to do), I suspect you will have a table mate as charming and engaging as any Burgundian.

Game meats such a venison, duck or braised rabbit will pair beautifully and if you were to support the protein with roasted field mushrooms, onions and beetroot on a polenta foundation, than I can guarantee you will have to set at least one extra place! I promise I will bring another bottle.

As attitudes evolve and horizons broaden, the experiences available will inevitably multiply. The Australian wine scene was once called stagnant and boring, but with the help of the brave few listed above and numerous others, there is hope. I delight in not being able to recognise or sometimes even pronounce all the varieties I can now source at my local bottle shop or at the click of a mouse. It is incumbent upon all of us to help lift the veil that so often scares the drinking public back into the arms of the familiar and tired. We now have an arsenal brimming with new weapons with which to titillate and tease, from Assyrtiko to Zweigelt, and I am very excited about the direction our industry is heading in.

I look forward to new challenges, to sharing something new and learning right along with you.

Prost, Jack.

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, St Laurent, sticky wine Adelaide Hills, Uncategorized, wine, Zweigelt, Zweigelt Australia | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hahndorf Hill explores the beauty of Blaufrankisch – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

We at Hahndorf Hill have never shied from publicly declaring that we love drinking other people’s wines. I have written previously of the regular critical tastings we do after hours at the cellar door, normally a flight or two selected to highlight or isolate a specific theme. We all very much enjoy the opportunity to study prime examples of varietals so close to our hearts.

Whilst we always make an effort to apply a veneer of legitimate “professional development”, our passion for these varietals means that these tastings do have a way of pulling us in. Before we know it we are mentally soaring over the Blaufrankisch powerhouse of Burgenland or the steep and winding lanes of Langenlois. By the time we land back in Hahndorf it will often be dark and each of us late for something.

Vineyards near Neckenmarkt

Our most recent tasting “journey” took us over the villages of Lutzmannsburg and Neckenmarkt in Austria, over the region of Württemberg in Germany, then a lap of our own estate here in the Adelaide Hills.

Weingut Moric the brand was born in 2001 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise to global recognition; its founder and chief winemaker Roland Velich applied the skills and perspective he gained studying marquee Pinot Noirs and Barolos to the mature vines of his native Burgenland to impressive effect.

Moric wines have received glowing reviews from some of the industry’s most qualified and respected wine writers such as Eric Asimov of the New York Times and Alder Yarrow, Jancis Robinson Purple Pages contributor. It is with humility and a quivering keyboard that I would like to add my voice to this chorus of praise.

The vintners of Burgenland will often speak of the magnificent sunshine that bathed their region in the autumn of 2016 in an effort to bury deep the trauma of several biting frosts early in the season.

The frosts came at the worst possible time and hit very hard; significant damage was done and many questions were asked about the very viability of the region’s crop. Eventually the sun arrived and lifted the spirits of vintners and schoolboys alike; off came the winter coats and the hard work began in earnest. The 2016 Moric Blaufrankisch is typical of the house; that is to say, it’s delicious.

The obsessive sorting ensured only the best fruit was allowed in and it shows; a parcel of 20% – 25% whole bunches contributes to the velvety tannins, moody spice and opaque ruby garnet colour. A perfume of jasmine, curry leaves, blackberry and clove spice announce the bottle has been opened, while the rhubarb, woody spice, tart plum and disciplined acid on the palate sent me straight to the fridge praying to any divinity that would listen that it would be magically stocked with venison, lamb meatballs swimming in a tomato sauce, or a mild crumbly blue cheese.

In a previous Gru Files article focused on Rosé, I wrote about Weingut Knauβ (pronounced Knauss), a German producer in the region of Württemberg. Andi Knauss took over the family business in 2004 and with the skills he picked up in Austria, poured himself into managing the health of his vineyards. Andi’s style is so old school it’s new school; minimal intervention in the winery and the generous use of whole bunch fermentation give his wines vim and energy all of their own.

Since taking over he has expanded the portfolio to nine varieties spanning globally familiar Francocentric varieties to the lesser known Eastern European classics. As a rule, vines don’t care where they come from; that prejudice is a uniquely human trait and as is so often the case the same variety can be known by several different names in different countries.

Blaufrankisch is a variety often written about in this blog and its homeland is more or less universally recognized as Austria, but as it enchanted and seduced neighbouring vintners it was often rebranded. In Germany Blaufrankisch goes by the name of Lemberger and, as with other international examples, it will always bear a resemblance to ancestral kin but will inevitably come to speak with the accent of its new home.

Confirmable details are hard to come by so I will rely on my own tasting notes and the impassioned rants we each went on during the tasting. To our mind this 2016 Knauβ “Pure” Lemberger was crafted to be enjoyed young and fresh; I would speculate that a generous percentage of whole bunch ferment has created the whimsical structure. Anise, blackberry, clove and cured meats all march across the palate in perfect time. Just like the rosé profiled in a previous article, this wine will polarize and not least along generational lines. Fans of our lighter, spice-forward red “Zsa Zsa” Zweigelt will find a friend here, as well as followers of the wines of the Basket Range region of the Adelaide Hills.

Char grilled lamb, roasted mushroom, strong cheese platters and charcuterie will all complement this wine beautifully.

The 2016 Hahndorf Hill “Blueblood” Blaufrankisch is the first vintage to go out in her sexy new label and she has been very well received. A warm and dry vintage saw bold fruit characters across most of the Adelaide Hills and we enjoyed our fair share of the sun. Local markets will always influence stylistic choices and as the Australian palate has traditionally trended towards a firmer oak influence, our Blaufrankisch shows more of the Vosges and Troncais notes of vanillin and tea spice than its European cousins.

Black plums, blueberries and ripe cherries form the front palate with woody spice such as clove and cinnamon making up the middle; the back palate is where I find most drinkers diverge. I have heard drinkers describe liquorice, tobacco, saddle leather and cherry musk and have found them all myself at one time or another, and that is the beauty of this variety. Like an office gossip, she will whisper slightly varying tales into each glass, making this a fun wine to track.

Be it Blaufrankish, Lemberger, Kekfrankos or Franconia, this black/blue beauty beguiles and bewitches. A dream match with most game meats, ripe cheeses, charcuterie, dark chocolate and innumerable other dishes. Time spent with this variety is time well spent.


Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Diurnal variation temperature, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, St Laurent, Uncategorized, wine, Zweigelt | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three svelte Germanic rosés – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

As vineyards across the region slowly awaken and stretch up into the warm lengthening days, so too do we, and the hearty recipes that got us through the cold dark months are rotated away and the BBQ makes a triumphant return.

This time of year my friends and I need very little provocation to dine outside; the lads almost involuntarily gravitate towards the grill and the ladies once again discreetly wage their annual “who brought the most interesting salad” war. Just for the record my wife’s salmon and spring onion cob was the clear 2017 champion … just saying.

As the seasons must change so too do the wines we reach for. The demographic in ice buckets across the country has slowly but surely shifted. Gone are the ubiquitous Kiwi sauv blancs in favour of a dry and savoury newcomer with a distinctive pale-pinkish hue.

Although exact numbers are hard to pin down, one thing is undisputed: Rosé is the fastest growing category in Australian wine and it is not slowing down. What was once relegated to the bottle shop’s back shelf or the last fridge, often in the sweet section, now takes pride of place. Although there is still a big market for the sweeter styles, it is the drier “Provence” inspired wines that are responsible for rose’s almost exponential growth.

Last Saturday I woke to see my balcony bathed in sunshine and being the patriot I am, I invited some friends over and woke up my BBQ. I rarely have trouble attracting guests to dine with us as they know I will often have a flight of wines that need tasting for this very blog and this day was no exception. I am not a recent convert to rosé but I will confess an ignorance of eastern European examples (a blind spot I am not proud of and to be addressed).

The three I chilled for the group were all made to a similar style but all told a very different tale. I chose a German blend, a famous Austrian, and a bottle of our own current vintage.

For generations the vineyards owned by Andi Knauss’ ancestors were strictly a hobby but after graduating as a vigneron and a stint in Austria, Andi came home in 2004 and turned Weingut Knauss into a serious concern.

With a focus on vineyard health and minimal intervention in the winery, Andi has become a rising star in one of Germany’s premier wine producing regions, Wurttemberg-Remstal. He has slowly expanded the plantings and now works with nine different varieties. Andi has an eye for the details and it shows; minimal intervention is making wines on the razor’s edge, requiring precision and care. By managing the vineyards with patience and in harmony with nature, he has given himself the best chance.

As soon as I poured the Knauss 2016 I knew it would be popular; rose petals and quince leapt from the glass. The palate was sophisticated and refined; pomegranate and white blossoms up front with pink lady apple bringing up the rear. A delicate powdery tannin had everyone salivating and I fear that had I not been sitting right there this would have been the first empty bottle.

A blend of Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Trollinger, Blaufrankisch, and Merlot, the Knauss Rosé is one to share; a treat with grilled lamb, sautéed mushrooms, crumbly blue cheeses and white fish.

The village of Gols on the shores of Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, Austria, is one of the prettiest places I have visited. The lake is immense but quite shallow, contributing to this region’s unique micro-climate. Peppered around the lake are several of Burgenland’s superstars, but I have a special affinity for the wines of – and the people behind – Weingut Pittnauer.

During my recent trip to Austria, as I walked from the train station dragging my suitcase up the cobbled streets to Weingut Pittnauer, I was struck by the relaxed nature of the place. Up until this point I had found Austria quite formal, but here the people waved and smiled, happy to ask the obvious stranger if he needed any directions.

Jack (left) with Gerhard Pittnauer

Gerhard Pittnauer (or ‘’Pitti” to his friends) inherited the family business as a very young man at an impossibly difficult time for the Austrian wine industry. Twenty plus years later, he and his wife Brigitte have emerged from these dark times as one of the highest profile Austrian producers in the world and in 2014 Gerhard was recognised with Austria’s highest winemaking accolade – the Falstaff Winemaker of the year.

All of Pittnauer’s wines are well thought out and expertly crafted; the focus on premium fruit and respectful winemaking is non-negotiable. The 2017 “Pitti” Rosé has done the house proud; 100% whole bunch Blaufrankisch gives this wine an earthy red berry aroma. The palate leads with sour cherry and ripe red berries, but this wine is not without the signature Pittnauer savoury finish.

This example could be a bit of a challenge to the drinker only recently weened off the sweeter rose’s, but will delight when served with game hen, gnocchi, sardines or seared tuna.

The 2018 Hahndorf Hill Rosé has been one of our most critically successful ever and its sexy new packaging has seen it flying off the shelves. A few shades lighter than previous vintages but still featuring our unique blend of the Germanic variety Trollinger and other Adelaide Hills reds, this wine is already breaking hearts. Cherry blossom and raspberry frame the nose, while pomegranate, quince and delicate pink musk and pepper form the palate.

This wine is the perfect accompaniment to fiery Thai or whole-grilled fish, a wide selection of cheeses and especially successful with the hot Italian sausages from my local butcher.

The rosé revolution is now past the point of no return. Australia has embraced the dry, savoury and balanced, pale pink seductress and Sauv Blanc is in retreat. This is one bandwagon I will be happy to get on!

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, Rosé, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gruner Veltliner’s two predominant styles – by Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Regular readers of this blog will by now be familiar with the system that classifies the different styles of wines produced in Austria’s highest profile region, the Wachau. This system referred to as the Wachau Codex has led the way in regulating quality control and restoring international faith in the wines of a whole country.

The Wachau wine region of Austria

With rules that govern decisions made in the vineyard, winery and cellars, the Wachau Codex has sought to bulletproof the reputation and integrity of the wines produced along its short stretch of the Danube.


The Austrians love a rule book as much as their Germanic neighbours and the list of technicalities a wine must meet can quickly confuse and bamboozle, so let me simplify things a little by saying that the wines which meet the exacting standards set out in the Codex are sorted into three distinct categories:
Steinfeder: Fresh, fruit forward and spicy. Alcohol level not to exceed 11.5%.
Federspiel: Sophisticated orchard fruits, lean and acid driven. Alcohol levels restricted from 11.5% to 12.5%.
Smaragd: Ripe, rich and opulent with excellent cellaring potential. Minimum alcohol level 12.5%. (Alcohol levels often at 13 – 14%.)

It is of course much more complicated than this simple abbreviation but for now let me draw you away from the Wachau; let’s descend its steeply terraced slopes and glide down the Danube, then head north across the rolling plains into the heartland of Austria’s largest wine region – the Weinviertel.

Producers outside of the Wachau take their quality control no less seriously and have adopted their own mechanisms to protect their reputations and customers. These areas subscribe to a master ‘DAC’ (Districtus-Austriae-Controllatus) template, where each region has set up a tailored system to suit their specific signature styles. While there are common principles and values, each region can tweak the fine print to best reflect their unique terroir.

The vast Weinviertel region in the north east of Austria was the first wine region to implement a DAC system, effective as of the 2002 vintage. Other regions soon followed and today the DAC system applies across Austria, including in the famous Gruner-producing regions of the Kamptal and Kremstal.

• This much more widely applied DAC system divides Gruner into two distinct styles – Klassik and Reserve.

Before an Austrian wine can be classified as either a Klassik or Reserve, it must first pass a range of specific quality requirements; all wines are submitted for sensory and chemical analysis to confirm that they meet this first level of quality control – primarily, that they accurately represent the variety’s regional typicity. Only once a wine has been approved for DAC classification can it then be labelled as one of the two recognised styles, Klassik or Reserve.

As I referenced earlier, each region can adapt this DAC template to suit its local specialities, so let’s zoom in on how this system classifies wines from Austria’s Kamptal region, a DAC that shares more than a few similarities with the Adelaide Hills, such as a similar MJT (of 19 degrees), a profound diurnal temperature variation (of up to 25 degrees), and a similar soil composition of red clay overlaying metamorphic rock such as slate, schist and quartz.

• In the Kamptal, wines designated as Klassik are described as being aromatic, spicy, well balanced, and with concentration reflective of that specific vintage.
• There are no botrytis or oak notes allowed and the alcohol level generally must be a minimum of 11.5%.
This DAC Klassik style corresponds to the Federspiel style of the Wachau.

Kamptal Reserve styles are described as being:
• Robust, concentrated and long in the finish; delicate notes of botrytis and oak are permissible and the wine must also show pronounced ‘regional character’ (in the case of the Kamptal this means stone fruit, white pepper and citrus). The minimum alcohol level must be 13%.
This DAC Reserve style corresponds to the Smaragd style of the Wachau.

The most recent Gruner Growers’ Group (GGG) meeting was held in July at the beautiful Victoria Room at the Edinburgh Hotel & Cellars in Adelaide, and it focused on the two predominant styles of Gruner as reflected in the DAC system and the Wachau Codex. This event was fully booked with Adelaide Hills’ growers and producers attending as well as journalist Dan Traucki.

Hahndorf Hill Gruner Veltliner seminar

Jack Simmonds presenting his seminar to the Gruner Growers Group

To open the meeting, I delivered a short presentation on the DAC system as a whole, and then to contextualize and gain some perspective on the two different styles, I took the group through a tasting representing each flight, ranging in price, vintage and region.

Flight one featured six examples of the Klassik / Federspiel style.
1. 2017 Stadt Krems ‘Lossterrassen’ – 12% alc – Kremstal
2. 2017 Groiss – 12.5% alc – Weinviertel
3. 2017 Prager ‘Hinter Der Burg’ Federspiel – 12.5% alc – Wachau
4. 2016 Kurt Angerer ‘Kies’ – 12.5% alc – Kamptal
5. 2016 Brundlmayer ‘Terrassen’ – 12.5% – Kamptal
6. 2016 Loimer ‘Loiserberg’ – 12.5% alc – Kamptal

Wines presented at Jack Simmonds’ seminar

After this first flight we paused for discussion with several questions and comments focused on the wines’ vinification, local terroir and the DAC qualification requirements. The selection above represents some of what Gruner is capable of when treated with care and respect. When quality above quantity is the doctrine, Klassik/ Federspiel Gruners will titillate and beguile with refreshing acid and delicate fruits.

Flight two was devoted to the richer, more robust Reserve / Smaragd style.
1. 2016 Knoll ‘Schutt’ Smaragd – 13% alc – Wachau
2. 2015 Brundlmayer ‘Lamm’ Reserve – 13.5% alc – Kamptal
3. 2015 Domane Wachau ‘Achleiten’ Smaragd – 13.5% alc – Wachau
4. 2015 Jager ‘Vorder Seiber’ Smaragd – 14% alc – Wachau
5. 2015 F.X. Pichler ‘Loibenberg’ Smaragd – 14% alc – Wachau
6. 2015 Franz Hirtzberger ‘Axpoint’ Smaragd – 14% alc – Wachau

The Adelaide Hills has long been known as a region responsible for some of Australia’s best Chardonnays; so it was no surprise when the room got very quiet while tasting this flight, as the textured opulence of this bracket impressed us all.
Having recently tasted these wines I made a point of sitting back to study the faces of my colleagues and was delighted to see eyes widen and hurried notes committed to paper. The discussion that followed was long and passionate; several producers present have released wines in this spirit and I am supremely confident we will see more in the not too distant future.

Gruner Veltliner vineyard in the Adelaide Hills

Following the tasting of the Austrian flights, participants enjoyed an informal tasting of a range of Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliners. So how does this all fit in with the way Gruner is evolving in the Adelaide Hills? So far, it is clear that the local producers are still experimenting with viticultural practices, yield management and how the grapes are dealt with in the winery. Stylistically, we are also still exploring, developing and learning, with each vintage bringing new experience and understanding.

It would be fair to say that most styles produced locally would fall into the ‘Klassik’ category, with a handful of wines using riper fruit, skin contact and some oak influence, which the Austrians would recognise as a ‘Reserve’.

In addition to this, there have been several locally developed Gruners that are distinctly more ‘fruit-forward’ in style – often being described as being as exuberant as a Sauvignon Blanc. If, however, one teases out these generous Gruner aromatics, then they are found to be in a spectrum of juicy citrus, nectarine, ruby grapefruit and even pawpaw flavours, and are therefore quite different and more complex to what Sauvignon Blanc is able to offer. This fruit-forward style shares a common DNA with that of Austria’s largest Gruner-producing region – the Weinviertel.

We have learnt that Gruner is an amazingly complex and expressive variety, capable of communicating in the bottle its entire life story: Where it came from, how long it hung out in the sun and the philosophies of the vintner.


Communication, co-operation and a shared sense of purpose are not common traits in an industry as competitive as ours, but we believe the ‘everyman for himself’ attitude is for those who sit squarely on their laurels. The spirit of the Gruner Growers Group is to look forward, to form the very tip of the spear.

Michael Sykes of Lodestone winery in the Adelaide Hills is arguably the most qualified Australian winemaker to speak about the technicalities of Gruner production and it was for this reason he was asked to be a judge at the recent Global Gruner Challenge. In the panel discussion afterwards, he put voice to a suspicion I have held for some time, that Australian Gruner Veltliner bears a stronger resemblance to its old-world relation that any other Australian varietal version –  Chardonney to Chablis, or Pinot Noir to Burgundy, for example.

I am convinced that this is due in no small part to the GGG’s ongoing commitment to thorough study and research, intelligence sharing and due diligence.

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Jack Frost’s choice – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills wineFew places can wear white better than the Adelaide Hills, and whilst real snow is rare, we are occasionally treated to a landscape of pure and crystalline beauty. As the days get shorter and we scramble to stack our beds with extra blankets, the languorous golden afternoons spent sipping Gruner can feel a lifetime away. But change is inevitable and when embraced can be a time of warm reacquaintance and new discovery.

Hahndorf Hill Adelaide Hills Wine

I have always been a ‘winter person’; it is not just that I struggle in the summer heat but I have always taken a little extra pleasure in the cuisine we look to in the colder months. The dishes we enjoy this time of year also necessitate a different dining attitude; they take longer to prepare and will often fill one’s home with aromas that can draw even the most brooding of teens to the table. It is very difficult to eat a proper Sunday roast and play videogames, and I think that might be the point.

As we yearn for dishes of warmth and substance we also look deeper into the wine rack, seeking heft and complexity. For most of us red wine is a year-round delight and few would argue that as the sun puts up less of a fight and the smell of wood smoke drifts down the street, that reds are not so much an option but the default.

It is in this spirit that I would like to share some thoughts on a couple of my absolute favourites, and perhaps unsurprisingly for regular readers, two of them are Austrians.

The town Deutschkreutz sits in ‘the heart of Burgenland’, the broad rolling plain that stretches across eastern Austria and spills over into Hungary. The region has for centuries been the home of Eastern Europe’s prestige reds with three varieties that are dear to the hearts of all Hahndorf Hill fans, often teaming up to create ‘cuvées’ or ‘blends’ of exquisite depth and complexity. Like most ancestral wine producing regions, Burgenland was built on blends with Blaufrankisch often doing the heavy lifting and Zweigelt and St Laurent adding backing vocals of aromatic lift, spice and delicacy.

The first record of the Gesellmann Estate in Burgenland is from 1767, but it was in the 1980s that they took the first steps towards the top shelf of Austrian reds. A militant insistence on only picking the very best fruit from their 40 hectares planted around the town of Deutschkreutz and diligently applying the wisdom of previous generations has set the platform for one of the most consistently delicious wines I have tasted.

Two tasty Austrians

The 2012 ‘Opus Eximium’ is a wine intended to be savoured, or as a whisky drinker would say, ‘slow & low’. Like a troupe of expert medieval tumblers would cascade across the stage, the blackest of blackberries and most purple of plums spill from the rim to dance for the nose. A composition of 60% Blaufrankisch, 30% Zweigelt and 10% St. Laurent delivers the palate a bounty of red and black berry fruits, while the signature spice and a welcome acidity act like a veteran headmaster, keeping this quiet riot on the straight and narrow. This is a complex and beautifully balanced wine that with calm consideration will reveal layer after layer.

Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of … St. Margarethen?

The village of St. Margarethen near Burgenland’s capital can boast many attractions; a 1st century Roman quarry, world-class operatic performances and Austria’s largest theme park. But my attention has been firmly grasped by the wines of mother and son team, Hannes and Rosi Schuster.

A commitment to a ‘less is more’ philosophy and organic vineyard management has seen Weingut Rosi Schuster recognized all over Europe. Hannes sources his fruit from a handful of very diverse spots surrounding his village, then lets the ferments gently bubble away in open-top vessels. Both primary and malolactic fermentation is spontaneous with more than a little whole bunch thrown in to add extra complexity.

The 2014 Reserve Blaufrankisch/ St. Laurent blend was a wine born of a nightmare season; a combination of Hannes’ extremely high standards and excessive rains at the worst possible time forced him to turn his back on a significant amount of fruit. This wine is testimony that adversity can breed excellence; like a soggy phoenix this wine rises above its early challenges to lift your roasted game meats or cheese/grazing platter to a whole new level.

A significant proportion of this wine was whole-bunch wild fermented then sent to bed in large format barrels for a whole year. This parcel was then reunited with its kin in an even bigger vessel for an extra 21 months.

For a wine that was unfined and unfiltered it has remarkable clarity of flavor; red, black and blue fruits harmonize seamlessly, putting me in mind of a late Monet. This must read like a wine made by a recent Burgundian graduate who has set up shop in the Basket Range, but I was pleasantly surprised by the stealthy tannin and well defined structure. I was expecting a more diffused presence on the palate given the colour and aroma, but this wine is taut and clean with a quiet and hypnotic dignity.

The Hahndorf Hill blend of Shiraz/ Cab/ Merlot we call the ‘Compatriots’ was also born of necessity, not one of tragically timed pounding rain but of overwhelming demand. As I write this we are still the only Australian producer of our marquee red variety Blaufrankisch; every single berry is grown on our Hahndorf estate and the same goes for our single vineyard Shiraz. Years of hard work has seen our profile rise and while interest in our two red wines has grown, the volumes we can produce has not. Halfway through each year a storm would brew as Dee Wright (our enchanting cellar door manager) and I would plead our cases to get the last remaining stock to supply our respective customers.

Something had to be done, thus the rich and bold ‘Compatriots’ was born. It was on the back of Shiraz/ Cab/ Merlot blends that regions such the Barossa Valley achieved global recognition, and despite it being a blend traditionally embraced by producers in warmer climates we were confident we could offer a new take on an old classic.

The ‘Compatriots’ is the boldest red in the Hahndorf Hill stable and is a wine of many faces. It presents like a group of boisterous lads on a stag do, but quickly mellows into a plush and cultured conversationalist. Liquorice and peppery, wood spice frame ripe plums and juicy blackberry. This wine is a ‘fireside specialist’; rare steak, earthy mushrooms or a mild crumbly blue cheese will highlight the subtle sophistication reclining behind the bold headline.

I really do enjoy this time of year; I find the icy dawns invigorating and the crisp evenings provide extra opportunities for spontaneous snuggles with loved ones. Years ago my partner (who does not share my indifference to the cold) dubbed me ‘Jack Frost’ as she claims my embracing of winter’s charms somehow ‘chills her to the bone’. We have been together long enough for me to decipher this code; she will shiver theatrically as I scan the wine rack but quickly thaws as I hand her a glass as dark as the closing night.

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Diurnal variation temperature, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The learning curve of Gruner Veltliner – by Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

It can be easy in an industry like ours to wake one day and find yourself living in a fish bowl; a million little cogs turn slightly larger cogs which in turn form a business. In such an all-consuming operation it is very important to keep some perspective, to occasionally rise to periscope depth and take a look at what is going on around you.

At Hahndorf Hill we think that, for us to speak with credibility and confidence about our flagship variety Gruner Veltliner, it is critical that we keep abreast of Gruner’s evolving trends and styles. Hence, we regularly conduct internal staff training sessions where we blind taste through flights of Gruner Veltliner from premium Austrian producers as well as from our friends and neighbours here in the Adelaide Hills.

Hahndorf Hill Gruner

Doing the Anaconda – line-up of 30 Gruner Veltliners for the Hahndorf Hill staff tasting in May 2018

Our most recent training session featured 30 Gruners in a range of styles, spanning five vintages and from several regions. It never ceases to amaze me how versatile and flexible this variety is; the wines ranged from pretty and delicate to powerful Alphas. There were some shy wallflowers, some supernovas and everything in between. I have never claimed to be unbiased so I type this with a straight face and a clear conscience: Gruner Veltliner is the most expressive conduit for terroir of any variety I have tasted. I really felt I could almost hear the shifting loess of Langenlois crunching underfoot from 15,000kms away.

Hahndorf Hill Gruner Australia

A selection of Smaragd and Reserve Gruner Veltliners

Of the 30 wines we tasted I would like to draw your attention to a few bottles that really stood out for me. I have written previously of Weingut Knoll from the village of Unterloiben in the Wachau, and I am over the moon to do so again. A family winery now run by its third generation, Knoll sources its fruit from some of the most acclaimed and exclusive vineyards in all of Austria.

The famous Loibenberg vineyard is south facing and is one of the most easterly vineyards of the Wachau; it is also one of the largest and steepest. Its exposed position and steepness give each vine a taste of the warm sun and breeze; this vineyard is famous for producing wines of power and richness and the 2015 Knoll Loibenberg Smaragd is no exception. This wine leads with warm ripe stone fruit and delicate pear, an opulent palate of melon and nectarine is beautifully balanced by a cleansing acidity. This wine is the complete package; it has class, sophistication and weight.

Franz Hirtzberger, situated upstream at the other end of the valley in the village of Spitz, is another multi-generational family business famous for producing some of Austria’s most acclaimed wines. A founding father of the Vinea Wachau, the organization responsible for the Wachau Codex, Franz has been instrumental in Austria resuming its place amongst the world’s great wine producing countries.

Sourcing its fruits from some of the coolest sites in the DAC has given the wines of Hirtzberger a reputation for spice and finesse. The site now named “Axpoint” was first documented in 1243 AD and is located on the valley floor giving it a predominantly loess composition. The 2015 Axpoint Smaragd is rich and full bodied; the ripe peach and orchard fruits have been expertly lassoed by a crisp and refreshing acid. The fruit from sites higher up the terraced slope is well known for is slightly salty minerality, whereas this wine from the flatter base is more generous in its fruit whilst keeping the region’s signature savoury, peppery finish.

Hahndorf Hill Gruner Adelaide Hills

The emerald green lizard of the Wachau that gives the Smaragd wines their name

Weingut Brundlmayer is a destination for wine lovers and foodies alike; their cellar door and restaurant in the Kamptal village of Langenlois is the embodiment of the family’s philosophy of embracing the nature of their environment. The Gruners of Langenlois have a distinct style; they tend to be leaner and more floral than the other premier Austrian regions and as a result they are excelling in the “Sekt” (sparkling) category, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a very close eye on the fuller-bodied Reserve wines.

The 2015 Brundlmayer Kammerner Lamm was produced from fruit picked from the uber-exclusive Lamm block which has been recognized by the Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (Association of Austrian Traditional Wine Estates) as consistently producing fruit of the “utmost finesse, the richest character, the longest life”. This south facing block occupies the warmest spot on the edge of the valley and has for generations produced wines described as plump and ripe.

The blend of Austrian acacia and local oak has built a broad and well-lit stage for the actors playing ripe stone fruit and savoury vegetals to sing at the top of their lungs. This is a big wine. I distinctly remember the moment Larry and I got to this wine in the flight because I could feel his eyes boring into me, waiting for me to make up my mind so we could discuss it. Brundlmayer say on their website: “While ‘Lamm’ is the quintessence of a monumental Gruner Veltliner, it abandons the lightness and prickle that Gruner Veltliner usually stands for.” I know what they mean, this wine is no push over. The 2015 Kammerner Lamm shares a common ancestor with the delicate “sushi friendly” wines of its neighbours, but I suspect it was made with steak in mind.

Finally, I would like to give a special mention to a wine in the tasting that really got us talking: The 2017 Groiss Gruner Veltliner is a delight. Soaring aromatics of pear and white blossom complement a full and pure palate. It was not only its obvious excellence that drew Larry and I to this wine but also its place of birth; the Weinviertel is a region most commonly associated with mass produced cheap wines (similar to our Riverland), but Ingrid Groiss has deliberately set her sights on a quality over quantity direction and we are all the richer for it.

Gruner Australia

See, sniff, spit – Larry and Jack working through 30 Gruner Veltliners.


Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, dessert wine Aelaide Hills, Diurnal variation temperature, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, St Laurent, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Story of Four Stickies – by Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Hahndorf Hill Adelaide Hills

Hahndorf Hill Adelaide Hills

Autumn has poked her nose in here at Hahndorf Hill, and this last month or so, Larry and I have often remarked upon how much warmer and drier things are this year.

A student of the classics will recognise the turning of the leaves and cooler nights to be the first signs that the Goddess Demeter has begun to neglect her duties and instead, mourn the annual loss of her daughter Persephone as she once again prepares to resume her place at Hades side on the throne of the Underworld. That being said, this need not be a gloomy time; there are delights to be found in an early evening, particularly for those with a sweet tooth.

Sweet or dessert style wines have been sealing off a meal for centuries and with the first recorded example dated to 1526, it was once again the Austrians in the vanguard of wine evolution. The area around Lake Neusiedl in the region of Burgenland served as the crucible for dessert wines almost 100 years before the first Sauternes stickies and over 200 years before the first fortified Ports.

The Austrian wine industry is heavily regulated, and the dessert wine category is no exception. Unlike most sweet wine producing countries, the areas which once made up the Austro-Hungarian empire work to a unique system where the category your wine falls into depends on the sugar level of the fruit at the time of picking, rather than the residual sugar of the finished wine.

Gruner Veltliner Adelaide Hills

Some top examples of Gruner Veltliner dessert wines

I have written and rewritten this passage several times because it is very easy to fall into a technical quagmire that bores the pants off even the most enthusiastic detail-phile, so I will endeavour to simplify as best I can. The main categories are as follows:

Spatlese: Fully ripe fruit with a minimum Baume of 12.4 degrees.

Auslese: Fully ripe, carefully selected fruit with a minimum Baume of 13.7 degrees.

Beerenauslese “Selected Berries”: Overripe fruit, this is the first tier affected by the Botrytis mould or “Noble Rot”. Minimum Baume 16.3 degrees.

Ausbruch: Overripe fruit that has naturally shrivelled and been affected by Noble Rot; a wine may only be labelled Ausbruch if it has come from the town of Rust. Minimum Baume 17.6 degrees.

Trockenbeerenauslese “Dry Selected Berries”: Overripe fruit, naturally shrivelled and affected by Noble Rot. Minimum Baume 19.6 degrees.

Eiswein: These wines are made from grapes left on the vine until the frosts arrive. They must be picked at night to ensure that the temperature remains below freezing while the grapes are harvested and pressed. As the water in the grapes is frozen only the most concentrated flavours comes out.

Now that is out of the way, let’s have a look at some wine!

Grüner Veltliner Australia Hahndorf Hill

Nigl is a producer based in the village of Senftenberg in Kremstal, a region made famous by Gruner Veltliner and Riesling. Their terraced vineyards stretch along the valley to the limits of the local capital Krems and consist of very rocky soils which give the wines of Nigl their signature minerality and spice.

Handcrafted wines made to the highest standards are what you will find here, with a focus on finesse and elegance. 90% of Nigl’s production is white wine with Gruner Veltliner leading the way.

Their 2014 Beerenauslese is intense yet sophisticated; yellow fruits and honeyed, dark toasted bread greet you at the door then guide you to a comfy chair of earthy, roasted nuts.
The 2012 Eiswein is tighter and lighter than most of its compatriots. Tropical notes of passionfruit and pineapple lead a band featuring the finest honeycomb, pepper spice and apple. It was the acid that most surprised me about this wine, in a good way. Not nearly as treacly sweet as other examples.

Grüner Veltliner Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf Hill

Grüner Veltliner dessert wines are über food-friendly

This time last year I was in Austria and very much looking forward to visiting a producer I have admired for a long time in the region of Kamptal. Since 1750 Weingut Rabl has been making wines specifically designed to be drunk for fun, and while this may sound a little glib, I can tell you from first hand experience they mean it because they live it.
Their fruit is picked from some of the most prestigious vineyards in Austria and you can tell from the second the wine hits the glass. I have written previously of their steely, peppery dry whites but this article is all about stickies so let’s take a look at their 2009 Trockenbeerenauslese.

This wine is Gruner Veltliner with the Caps Lock on! The nose is intense but clean. Honeyed stone fruit and spice dance across the palate like a double helix coursing through a vein. The finish is long with roasted, nutty notes. It would be easy to lose all finesse and structure in a wine this sweet but Gruner’s signature acid has kept this wine in check like the firm but steady voice of a wizened old cowboy calming a young horse.
These are not everyday wines so let’s get some perspective from something more familiar.

Grüner Veltliner Australia Hahndorf Hill

Gruner Veltliner dessert wine heaven

For years now we have been saying Hahndorf Hill is a house of spice-driven, dry wines; well now we need to add a little asterix to that.

Like 2018, the autumn of 2016 was long, mild and dry; these conditions provided us with the perfect opportunity to try our hand at a new style and reaffirm our commitment to staying at the cutting edge of Australian Gruner Veltliner.

From our inception we have made a commitment to stay true to the wine styles and structures pioneered by the Austrians whilst always embracing and respecting our own terroir. This means we don’t always fit into the strict Austrian classification system but our priority has always been to make the very best wine we can for you, our customers.

This attitude is no more apparent than in our 2016 ‘Green Angel’ Late Harvest Gruner Veltliner. With a picking Baume of 18 degrees and a residual sugar of 170gms, we are at the drier end of the spectrum, and as the name suggests it is a “Late Harvest” not a Botrytis affected wine. In short, this is the driest member of a sweet family (not unlike myself!).

Lemon zest and poached pear leap from the rim well before the glass itself can even make it to the same postcode as your mouth. The wine glides down the palate showing off with notes of fresh citrus, custard apple and subtle, peppery spice.

I made a point of inviting some friends over to enjoy these wines with me and paired up some dishes the textbooks will say work, but as is my custom, I snuck in a few pairings designed to provoke and titillate. Crumbly blue cheese and Austria’s signature apple strudel were a delight, but so too were the Black Pig Iberico Jamon and pickled jalapenos.
I suppose the moral of the story is these are wines made with fun in mind, and this need not be a time to lament the loss of the warm summer days.

Follow this link https://www.hahndorfhillwinery.com.au/Buy-Online to order your own ‘Green Angel’, invite the friends that you can rely on for good conversation and embrace the slip into winter.

Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill’s Brand Ambassador and roving palate


Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, dessert wine Aelaide Hills, Diurnal variation temperature, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, St Laurent, sticky wine Adelaide Hills, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gruner’s love affair with pork – by Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

There is an old expression in food and wine pairing: “What grows together goes together”, and in addition to a passion for Gruner Veltliner, both Australians and Austrians share a love of pork.


Australian pork consumption has been growing steadily for the last two decades, recently overtaking beef to be our second most consumed meat behind chicken at approximately 28kgs per person annually. But just as Austria leads the world in Gruner Veltliner production they also top the charts as the world’s biggest fans of pork, consuming a whopping 71kgs per person!

So, in the spirit of Australian-Austrian relations, I have decided to focus this article on how pork and Gruner make such great bedfellows, which leads me to our own 2016 ‘Gru’ and to an excellent wine from the Kremstal.


Everything about Kremstal is old, even by European standards. The undulating highlands and eastward facing slopes referred to as the Bohemian Massif are amongst the oldest geological formations on earth. Closer to the region’s capital, Krems, on the south and south-eastern slopes are rich deposits of loess, exposed after the last ice-age 300 000 years ago, contributing to perfect spicy and structured Gruner Veltliner.

The civic hospital of Krems was founded in 1210 by Duke Leopold IV between already thriving vineyards and as successive rulers came and went Krems underwent many changes, but it has always focused on wine production for its survival. Now boasting 306 wineries and 2368 hectares (5851 acres) under vine, the region has become a must-visit destination for all serious wine and history buffs.

At over 550 years old Weingut Stadt Krems is amongst the oldest wineries in Europe and in addition to making exquisite wines they are a member of the “Traditionsweingüter Österreich” – an association committed to protecting the region’s heritage. All of Stadt Krems 30 hectares are within the Krems’ city limits and their wines are pressed in a cellar under the moat of the ancient Old Town!

Freshness, spice, finesse and complexity is the mantra which Weingut Stadt Krems lives by and their 2016 Domane Krems Gruner Veltliner snuggles in nicely with its more expensive brothers and sisters. Made in a slightly more fruit forward style than most wines from this region, it sizzles with grapefruit, pineapple and pear. Beautifully balanced acidity and a long but clean and peppery finish make this wine from one of the Austria’s oldest producers a delicious accompaniment to the crispy, crackly spit-roasted pork.



Australia, of course, now grows its own Gruner Veltliner, especially in the Adelaide Hills wine region of South Australia, where this pork-loving variety has put down deep roots. There are now approximately 30 Gruner labels in the Adelaide Hills, including Hahndorf Hill which pioneered this variety in South Australia.

I remember quite early in the 2016 vintage Larry and I quietly whispering to each other “this will be a good one” as we tasted the unbottled ‘Gru’ – and we haven’t been alone in this opinion. I have written previously that I feel our 2016 ‘Gru’ shows the most varietal typicity of all our Gruners to date, and during my trip to Austria I tasted dozens of wines that only reinforced the sense of kinship in our wines that we have been striving for.
Leading with pear, apple and zippy grapefruit, this wine waltzes across the palate. Crispy acid tickles whilst Gruner Veltliner’ signature chalky texture caresses. It is with a strange melancholic pride that I sip away the last of the 2016 ‘Gru’.

While it didn’t take a crystal ball to see these wines would be a treat with pork, I won’t have it said that I wasn’t thorough in my research!

Posted in Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Diurnal variation temperature, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf, roses, St Laurent, sticky wine Adelaide Hills, Uncategorized, wine, Zweigelt | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two regions, two superstars – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Jack Simmonds

Like all wine producing countries, Austria has over the centuries drawn lines on a map to indicate regions of quality and (although they would never say it out loud), regions which should just stick to servicing the “entry level” market.

The Wachau is the most famous of Austria’s prestige regions and names like Pichler, Knoll, Hirtzberger, Prager and Domaine Wachau are often the first that come to mind of journalists and the Gruner initiated all over the world. Texture is what the producers from this region will tell you sets them apart.

The Weinviertel DAC is the region responsible for the bulk of Austria’s Gruner production, in every sense of the word. The largest of Austria’s wine producing regions has for decades provided fruit for the budget end of the market, mostly simple and fruit-driven styles with little texture. An analogy I could draw would be the Weinviertel DAC has the style and reputation similar to that of Australia’s Riverland.

That being said, there are a few renegades who are shaking things up, putting quality above quantity.

Swimming against the current are a handful of maverick producers using more modern viticulture and vinification techniques to make wines of finesse, texture and spice that have many other regions and Gruner fans taking notice.

Ingrid Groiss is one such maverick. Since taking over winemaking duties from her father in 2010, she has steered the family business towards the top shelf. The 2016 Groiss Gruner Veltliner sparkles bright and clear in the glass while aromas of nectarine and white blossom ripple over the rim. Where more traditional Weinviertel wines can show little minerality or complexity, time on skins and working the lees has given the Groiss a depth and richness that I really enjoyed. This wine is full-bodied but crisp with a delightfully long finish.
The 2016 Groiss Gruner Veltliner can hold its head high amongst the best of her countrymen, so let’s do just that.


Prager is a house with immense respect for the history of the Wachau; chief winemaker Dr Toni Bodenstein is a man obsessed with terroir and the mesoclimates of his region and this is reflected in his wines. His range is made up of single vineyard wines that see no oak so as to give each site a clear voice and personality.

The terraced Hinter Der Burg (“behind the mountain”) vineyard is rich in primary rock and overlooks the Danube. This 2016 Gruner Veltliner has spice and citrus in perfect union; the signature minerality of the Wachau is harmonising beautifully in the background and the chalky mouthfeel balances the whole package right to the end.

The wines I tasted today represent two very different places but share a common vision. For decades the Weinviertel DAC deserved its reputation for lightweight, easy-drinking wines but there are rumblings. I think the days of writing off a whole region are numbered as more and more brave and inspired producers from the Weinviertel work hard to put their respective names on wines of quality, finesse and sophistication. And if producers like Toni Bodenstein keep releasing wines like the 2016, the Wachau’s global reputation is in safe hands.

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills best Cellar door, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, Hahndorf, St Laurent, wine, Zweigelt | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment