Gruner Veltliner’s blue sibling – Blaufränkisch

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Ever since Gruner Veltliner has begun to charm the palates of the world’s oenophiles, so has the interest in Gruner’s blue sister, Blaufränkisch, grown and evolved.
It was as if this dark beauty was waiting, like the Sleeping Beauty, to be splashed with a kiss from handsome Gruner, and thus awaken to astonish her admirers with her own haunting loveliness.

Blaufrankisch grapes

Blaufrankisch grapes

Blaufränkisch, as it is known in its native Austria, is a red wine grape that is grown across Central Europe and historically it has enjoyed a long history in this part of the world. In the days of Charles the Great (742 – 814 AD) the word ‘frankish’ was often attached to grapes that were perceived as superior and produced the best quality wine. Since ‘Blau’ means ‘blue’ in Germanic languages,  Blaufränkisch can therefore be translated to mean ‘blue grapes of the Franks’.

According to legend, Blaufränkisch vines were first introduced into Austria in the 10th Century, and the first official documentation of the variety was made in the 18th Century. The wine was reputedly one of the favourite choices of Napoleon and Bismarck.

It is also grown in significant amounts in Germany and Hungary, and in smaller amounts in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The high regard in which this grape is held in Eastern Europe has led to it being described as “the Pinot Noir of the East”. According to British wine journalist Jancis Robinson, the variety’s popularity and extensive acreage denote it as “the quintessential middle-European red winegrape”.

In Germany, the grape is known as Lemberger or, alternately, Blauer Limberger. The name Lemberger derives from the fact that in the 19th Century the grape was imported into Germany from Lemberg in Lower Styra, in present-day Slovenia, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The German climate is generally too cool for this late ripening variety other than in the southern province of Württenberg, where at present there are approximately 1200ha of Lemberger under-vine.

In Hungary, the grape is known as Kékfrankos where it forms part of the famous ‘Bull’s Blood’ blend, but it is also bottled as a single varietal. The best examples tend to derive from the area around Sopron, close to the Austrian border.

The grape is also grown in Washington State in the US, where it is known as Lemberger, and has developed a loyal following among the locals. One reason for finding this variety here is its ability to survive the harsh winters that can be a feature of the region.

It is in Austria, however, where Blaufränkisch enjoys its highest status and finds its truest expression. Blaufränkisch is grown extensively in the state of Burgenland which lies in the eastern corner of the country, adjacent to the Hungarian border. Having recently toured Burgenland, I can confirm the huge dominance that this variety commands in the region, where nearly one out of every two vines in the 3000ha of vineyard is planted to Blaufränkisch. In this region the climatic conditions are considered to be warm due to the moderating influences of the nearby Neusiedlersee lake and the warm winds from the east. The climate is characterised by a cold winter with little snow, a hot, dry summer and a long, mild autumn.

DNA analysis has shown that one of the parents of Blaufränkisch is a lesser-known variety called Heunisch, whereas the other parent is unknown. Blaufränkisch itself parented a successful variety in 1922, when it was crossed with St. Laurent to produce the Austrian red variety called Zweigelt.

In Austria, the most acclaimed examples of Bläufrankisch tend to come from the sub-region of Mittelburgenland, clustered around the villages of Deutschkreutz, Lutzmannsburg and Neckenmarkt, as well as from the area surrounding the historic village of Rust on the Neusiedlersee.

Vignerons growing Blaufränkisch in modern-day Austria tend to pay considerable attention to maintaining excellent canopy management and producing low yields. The end result is wines that have achieved great acclaim both in their native country and in the international arena.
The barrique-aged Blaufränkisch wines are medium to full-bodied with great natural acidity and a generous but gentle tannin structure. The fruit flavours tend to be in the range of blueberries, red cherries, spices, liquorice and raspberries. The sound colour, tannins and raciness of the grape encourage the most ambitious Austrian producers to lavish new oak on it and to treat it like Syrah.

Since Austria has much warmer and sunnier summers than Germany, the result is wine with much higher natural alcohol levels, accentuated by Austria’s decidedly lower average yields in the vineyard.

While many Austrian producers in Burgenland prefer to use Blaufränkisch as a single varietal, others choose to blend it with other local popular varietals, such as Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Blaufrankisch in the Adelaide Hills

As far as I am aware, Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills is currently the only producer of this variety in Australia, although other plantings have taken place in Victoria and Tasmania. We inherited the Blaufrankisch vines when we purchased the property in 2002. The vines were originally planted over 20 years ago by the previous owner, who was originally from Württenberg in Germany, and who was delighted to be able to source some Blaufrankisch plant material from within Australia.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to establish any clonal details or any information about the rootstock upon which it was grafted. The material is virus infested which results in an extravagant display of orange and red hues in autumn. Fortunately, the colour change of the leaves only occurs after harvest and, therefore, does not in any way impact on the plant’s ability to ripen the berries. In fact, before propagating a new block of Blaufrankisch, we were on the verge of arranging for some material to be ‘cleaned’ of this virus when we were paid a visit from a German professor of viticulture who had a special interest in the variety. He had tracked us down as the only producer in Australia and was keen to see how the vines were performing.

One of the first questions he asked was whether we had the ‘red-leafed’ virus infested clone or the ‘green-leafed’ virus-free clone. He then explained that he believed the virus-infested Blaufrankisch produced a much better quality wine because of the additional flavour nuances and the natural control of the yields. So the end result is that our new block of Blaufrankisch has retained its wonderful autumnal hues!

Blaufrankisch vine at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hiulls Wine Region

Blaufrankisch vine at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hiulls Wine Region

In 2013 I imported two further clones of Blaufrankisch – one from Davis in USA and the other from Austria. We will be working with these new clones once they are released from quarantine.

Blaufrankisch tends to be naturally vigorous and needs to have its yields controlled by strict and conscientious pruning. It buds early – about the same time as Chardonnay – but ripens late. As with Chardonnay, the flower clusters appear early and these blossoms are very sensitive and susceptible to coulure. For the past few years, we have harvested our Blaufrankisch in mid to late April, usually before our Shiraz.

It is important, I feel, to note that although this variety is classified as a cool-climate red, it requires a specific type of ‘cool-climateness’ – one that is defined by ripening days that have significant diurnal variation. In other words, it needs solidly warm to hot days balanced by significantly cool nights. Without the warm days, I suspect, this variety could produce wines that lack its typical appealing plushness and gentle richness.

Canes – The vine has very neat, rigid, upright canes which work perfectly with our VSP system. This characteristic aids canopy management, but does show an increased susceptibility to storm breakage.

Leaves – The leaves are large and handsome with few lobes and teeth and the leaf plate is smooth, showing a deep green colour. The leaf petioles are thick and long. This causes them to break easily which is a significant advantage of canopy management. I have found the leaves to be fairly susceptible to powdery mildew.

Berries and bunches – The berries are relatively large and loose, giving the bunch the form of a long, distended triangle. The thick berry skin provides good colour and densely layered tannins, and also allows the fruit to withstand the pressure from botrytis longer than other varieties.
Each bearing cane will generally have two bunches – one rather large bunch and a second smaller one. In very hot years with high sugar concentrations, the Blaufrankisch berries tend to shrivel slightly without becoming raisins.
The grapes have thick and long stems that become wooden fairly easily. For this reason, bunch stem necrosis occurs infrequently.

Soils – Although Blaufrankisch has been shown to grow in most soil types, the typical fruit and deep colour of this variety are best expressed when grown in slate, loam or chalky loam soils. I suspect that this variety, if planted in the appropriate terroir in Australia, could be coaxed into producing wines of great elegance and suppleness.

Blaufrankisch makes a great food wine that is tailor-made for Australia’s vibrant food culture. It is a superb addition to any table and works especially well with duck, venison, lamb, rare beef – and my personal favorite is rare-ish pan-grilled salmon! Since the Adelaide Hills – like Burgenland – enjoys warm summers with extended, slow ripening into cool autumns, I have confidence that the region can produce an exciting New World style of this varietal. The Hahndorf Hill ‘Blueblood’ Blaufrankisch has indeed achieved numerous awards over the past few years, including multiple trophies and gold medals at both national and international wine competitions. The latest gold medal awarded to the Hahndorf Hill Blaufrankisch was at the Berliner Wein Trophy 2015 in Germany.

Hahndorf Hill 'Blueblood' Blaufrankisch

Hahndorf Hill ‘Blueblood’ Blaufrankisch from the Adelaide Hills, South Australia

If the Austrian wine industry is anything to go by, Blaufrankisch has a terrific future. It is currently enjoying a golden renaissance with a buoyant local market and positively-surging export markets. Much of this success rests with Austria’s indigenous white grape, the fresh and trendy Gruner Veltliner. At Hahndorf Hill Winery, we imported three clones of Gruner Veltliner from Austria in 2006 which passed through quarantine and which were planted at our Hahndorf Hill vineyard. A further three clones of Gruner were also imported in 2009 and these were also planted in our new Gruner vineyard.

In addition to Blaufrankisch and Gruner Veltliner, Hahndorf Hill is also the first producer of Zweigelt in Australia and we have also imported cuttings of St Laurent, another Austrian beauty. It does therefore seem that Hahndorf Hill has steadily evolved over the past few years to become a small representative of Austrian grape varieties in the southern hemisphere. In reality, it gives us great pleasure to develop, grow and dance with these beautiful natives from the north!

PS: You may have noticed that when I refer to Blaufrankisch in the Australian context, I have purposefully omitted the umlaut above the ‘a’ – the reason being is that in the Land Down Under, I maintain that the umlaut has fallen off …

The content of this article was originally written by Larry Jacobs and published in the Wine Industry Journal > VoL 24 no. 5 > September /October 2009, and has been updated.

Blaufrankisch in au

Blaufrankisch vines in autumn glory at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia

 

Posted in Adelaide Hills, 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, wine, Zweigelt, Zweigelt Australia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The secret behind Gruner Veltliner success in the Adelaide Hills

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

In five short years, growers and producers of Gruner Veltliner in the Adelaide Hills wine region have achieved some extraordinary outcomes with their favourite new alternative variety. There are already at least a dozen labels produced in the region (*see details below) and currently the Adelaide Hills has by far the largest plantings of this exciting aromatic white variety than any other wine region in Australia. In fact, it has more acres of Gruner than all other Australian wine regions combined.

Many of these producers have already accumulated awards and generated favourable reports from commentators both locally and abroad, and the region continues to collaborate and strive towards bigger and better things.

So what is this secret ingredient behind the Gruner success in the Hills? Well, below is a story about technology and temperature that reveals one of the key factors in the production of quality Gruner Veltliner in our region.

Playing a role in quantifying this key factor is my nifty new digital temperature logger. It’s about the size of medium-sized cigar and is pretty robust and waterproof.

Temp logger

This is technology at its simple best, since all I am required to do is activate it, pop it into my handy little vineyard weather station – and it will start recording.  At the beginning of this January (2015) I did exactly that and programmed the little wizard to record every five minutes of the full month.

On the 1st February I excitedly retrieved the little logger, downloaded the data and did some calculations. I needed to calculate the mean daily temperature during the month of January, which is the important ripening month for grapes in the southern hemisphere. (The equivalent month in the northern hemisphere is the month of July.)

My calculations showed that the daily Mean January Temperature (MJT) for January 2015 in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills was 18.5˚C. This is more or less what I had expected, since the Adelaide Hills is considered to be one of the coolest of the major wine regions on mainland Australia.

In order to be considered ‘cool climate’ in grape growing terms, there is a general view held by many people in the industry, that the MJT should be 19˚C or less. A MJT of 18.5˚C therefore puts the Adelaide Hills firmly in the cool-climate camp, given that 0.5˚C on a ‘mean temperature calculation’ over a period of one month is quite a considerable amount of temperature.

Here is a review of the composite temperature graph that was created by these regular five minute recordings.

New Diurnal

Double click on image to expand

Firstly, it is interesting to note that the highest temperature recorded was on 2nd January and reached an impressive 41.5˚C at 4.03pm.

The coldest morning was 6.5˚C on the morning of 1st January and again on the 30th January, with seven other cold points during the month of at least 7˚C to 8.5˚C. The average minimum achieved over the 31 day period was 11.15˚C.

However, what is most striking is the recording of the huge diurnal variations  (difference between maximum and minimum temperatures) achieved over various 24 hour periods. For example, on the 2nd January, at 4.03pm, the impressive maximum of 41.5˚C was achieved. However, at 3.30am the following morning, the minimum of 11.5˚C was recorded. This is a difference (a diurnal variation) of no less than 30.0˚C which is extraordinary for any wine producing region. Note the numerous other examples of significant diurnal variation recorded over the 31 day period.

Indeed, it is this propensity for huge diurnal variations of temperature during our summer ripening period that actually is responsible for the Adelaide Hills wine region’s cool-climate credentials – and is the secret to its Gruner success. The summation of these huge and dramatic temperature variations define our ‘cool-climateness’ (to coin a word) which can be described as being produced by a combination of warm days and cold nights. This is distinct from a cool climate region which is defined by moderate days and cool nights, or a maritime cool climate region that would be defined perhaps by moderate days and moderate nights.

splitting hairs images

Hair splitting.

Why all this hairsplitting? Well it all lies in the acid test, so to speak!

Acids manufactured in the vine leaves and the grape berry are extremely critical for sustaining the correct pH within the berry. The most important acids by volume are malic acid and tartaric acid and they are largely responsible for maintaining this acidic environment to ensure that all the cellular and metabolic functions within the maturing berry are optimally carried out. In addition to this, it is these very acids that have other vital functions during the winemaking processes once the berry has been harvested, crushed and the juice extracted. For example, the acids prevent bacterial spoilage of the grape juice during wine making processes, help prevent oxidation of the wine and sustain good colour in red wine, amongst other things.

Specific climatic conditions that prevail in the vineyard are the most important factors that either make or break acid within the grape berry. During hot climatic conditions, the levels of these grape acids are reduced when they may be consumed within the berry by the process of alcoholic respiration. This process provides emergency energy for the berry during hot weather and is an evolutionary process designed to spare the glucose in the berry for the survival of the seed. Malic acid is more severely affected in this way than tartaric acid. During cooler weather, acid levels are less reduced by this process.

The final surplus or deficiency of acid in the grape juice has a profound effect on the quality, the perception, the taste and the mouth-feel of the wine. It is this tight balance between deficiency and excess of malic acid in particular, that has very important quality consequences for wine and especially for aromatic, high acid white varieties such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner.

If there is a deficiency of malic acid, the wine will be flat and lacklustre or if there is too much malic acid, the wine could appear to be excessively green and sour and lack complexity. A balanced amount of malic acid, on the other hand, will specifically enhance taste perception by prolonging the release of  flavour components and thereby extending the period that the palate’s taste receptor cells are stimulated by these flavour compounds. This prolonging of the flavour compounds also allows the different flavours in the wine to hang around in the palate for a longer period, thereby resulting in a better blending of the different flavours for the senses.

And herein lies the nub of cool-climate viticulture – but especially a cool climate that is defined by warm days and cold nights.

Fruit quality and malic/ tartaric acid balance are best when ripened under warm days and cold nights, according to work done at Purdue University, USA.  http://www.foodsci.purdue.edu/research/labs/enology/AcidityintheVineyard.pdf

Conversely, grapes ripened in a long, hot region with excessive, persistent heat, will result in juice with poor balance between the sugar, the low acid, high pH, poor colour, poor flavour and aroma.

Equally, grapes ripening in a cool area with a short growing season and insufficient heat (especially daytime temps <21˚C) will result in low sugar, high acid, low pH, and unripe herbaceous flavours.

Since a good, natural balance of these acidic components will especially influence the quality in white aromatic varieties, it is not surprising that wine regions that share the blessing of having a cool climate defined by significant diurnal temperature variations include the Loire Valley, Austria’s Wachau region, the Mosel of Germany, California’s Santa Cruz Mountain – and the Adelaide Hills wine region of South Australia.

Wachau wine region

Wachau wine region

Something else that has been especially gratifying has been the wonderful co-operation and collaboration between the various Gruner growers in the Adelaide Hills and the amazing interest and support from the wine industry and public alike. Many thanks to you all!

* Alphabetical list of current Gruner Veltliner labels in the Adelaide Hills wine region:
By Jingo http://byjingowines.com/
Catlin Wines http://www.catlinwines.com.au/
CRFT Wines http://www.crftwines.com.au/
Hahndorf Hill Winery http://www.hahndorfhillwinery.com.au/
K1 by Geoff Hardy http://www.k1.com.au/
Longview http://www.longviewvineyard.com.au/
Nepenthe http://www.nepenthe.com.au/
Nova Vita Wines http://www.novavitawines.com.au/
Pike and Joyce https://www.pikeandjoyce.com.au/
Smidge Wines http://www.smidgewines.com/
The Pawn Co. http://www.thepawn.com.au/
Tomich Wines http://www.tomichhill.com.au/

 

Posted in Adelaide Hills, 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, Zweigelt Australia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Gruner Veltliner celebration – Asian Persuasion

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Each year the Adelaide Hills Wine Region launches its CRUSH wine festival to promote the wonderful cool climate wines from our region.

For the first time at CRUSH – and for the first time in Australian wine history – a masterclass of Australian-grown  Gruner Veltliners was held to celebrate this wonderful new variety’s ascent in the Adelaide Hills.

In five short years, the Adelaide Hills now has more plantings of Gruner than anywhere else in Australia – in fact all the combined Australian plantings outside of our region do not even come close to the current acreage of Gruner Veltliner in the Adelaide Hills.

The top six wines awarded at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show 2014 were selected to participate in this event, which was held in a beautiful dining area at the Mount Lofty House resort in Crafers. Chef Girard took advantage of Gruner Veltliner’s amazing ability to pair with all manner of Asian cuisine and created an extraordinary menu that incorporated six beautifully crafted treats, each one matched to a specific wine. And so ‘Asian Persuasion – a Gruner Veltliner Degustation’ was born.

The degustation menu together with the matched wines: Menu Gruner Veltliner masterclass

 

And here is a pic of the beautiful lobster dish that was matched to the The Pawn ‘Austrian Attack’ Gruner Veltliner 2014:Gruner Veltliner masterclass Adelaide Hills Wine Region

Finally, a pic of the sensational Barramundi treat served with the Tomich Hill Gruner Veltliner 2014.Gruner Veltliner masterclass Adelaide Hills Wine Region

I can report that each one of these wines performed beautifully and were a credit to this variety and our region. The food-pairing exercise was both pleasurable and inspiring as was the extraordinary synergy between each wine and its matching dish. Perhaps the most exhilarating – and potentially terrifying – match was the CRFT Gruner Veltliner 2014 that was selected to go with the final item on the menu: a beautiful lemon curd tart served with coconut snow, baby basil and mango. Despite fearful anticipation, this was a match-made-in-heaven with the lemon curd managing to consolidate this beautiful wine from every direction and pulling it all together in a delightful melange of flavour, texture and pleasure.

Hats off to the Mount Lofty House team and especially Chef Girard for making this such a successful day!

 

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine, Adelaide Hills wine region, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, Hahndorf, roses, St Laurent, Uncategorized, wine, Zweigelt, Zweigelt Australia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gruner dreamin’ 2015

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Well, the year of 2014 AD is drawing to a close and it looks as if the vineyard has had a very happy year indeed! Good canopies all round and – lo and behold – we have some fruit this year! Last year Mother Nature proved to be very stingy, with fruit yields of less than one tonne per acre across most blocks. So it is with great appreciation and delight that I spy healthy little bunches of grapes wherever I look – probably at about just under the three tonnes per acre yield, which is about perfect. (Exception being the Shiraz which again this vintage will have yields of below two tonnes per acre.)

Gruner Veltliner at Hahndorf Hill Adelaide Hills

Acres of beautiful Gruner Veltliner

The Gruner Veltliner looks gorgeous! Lovely acres of green Gruner with fresh, healthy canopies and the interesting thing is that bunch sizes seem to have averaged out quite modestly this year. This is in contrast with our first two vintages in 2010 and 2012 when we had surprisingly large bunches and as a consequence had to drop a huge amount of fruit early in the season to ensure modest yields. Perhaps now that these vines are going into their seventh year they are becoming more settled and balanced.

Gruner Veltliner bunches Hahndorf Hill

Close up of little Gruner Veltliner bunches Hahndorf Hill

So all in all, a very exciting vintage 2015 to look forward to!

I’d like to wish you all a great holiday season and all the very best for 2015! May all your dreams come true!

Dreaming of Gruner Veltliner Adelaide Hills wine

Dreaming of Gruner Veltliner

 

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

Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill cellar door

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

We’re getting ready to release the new vintage Gruner Veltliner wines at Hahndorf Hill, so to sharpen our palates we put together a tasting of 12 excellent examples of Gruner Veltliner wines from Austria (Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal), from Australia (Adelaide Hills) and from New Zealand (Marlborough).

Hahndorf Hill evening Gruner Veltliner tasting

Hahndorf Hill Winery cellar door August 2014

 

The 16th August produced a beautiful evening with the chilly winter air kept at bay by the wood fire and the warm company that included all the Hahndorf Hill team members and the wine making team from Lodestone Winery, under the helm of Michael Sykes.

 

 

Below is a summary of the tasting:

Blind Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill August 2014

Blind Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill August 2014

Flight 1:
2013 Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy Gruner Veltliner – Adelaide Hills
2014 Hahndorf Hill GRU Gruner Veltliner  – Adelaide Hills
2014 Hahndorf Hill White Mischief Gruner Veltliner – Adelaide Hills

Flight 2:
2013 Hahndorf Hill GRU Gruner Veltliner -Adelaide Hills
2013 Pike & Joyce Gruner Veltliner – Adelaide Hills
2013 Hahndorf Hill GRU 2 Gruner Veltliner -Adelaide Hills

Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill August 2014

Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill August 2014

Flight 3:
2012 Tinpot Hut Gruner Veltliner – Marlborough
2012  Hahndorf Hill GRU Gruner Veltliner -Adelaide Hills
2011 Knoll Loibner Gruner Veltliner (Federspiel) – Wachau

Flight 4:
2008 Loimer Gruner Veltliner – Kamptal
2008 Salomon Von Stein Gruner Veltliner Reserve – Kremstal
2007 Loimer Langenlois Spiegel – Kamptal

Wines tasted at Gruner Veltliner tasting Hahndorf Hill August 2014

Wines tasted at Gruner Veltliner tasting Hahndorf Hill August 2014

It was great to see all the New World examples comfortably rubbing shoulders with the Austrian versions and particularly exciting to see how well the aged versions had developed. This age-ability of Gruner is something that the wine authorities in Austria take great pains in marketing to the world and I can fully appreciate why!

Can’t wait to have an ‘aged’ Hahndorf Hill Gruner – and given that 2015 will be our  sixth vintage of this exciting variety, we should be rewarded soon!

To register for pre-release allocations of our 2014 GRU Gruner Veltliner and for further Gruner information – please go to http://bit.ly/XUJJct

Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill with Michael Sykes (left)

Gruner Veltliner tasting at Hahndorf Hill with Michael Sykes (left)

 

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

Gruner Veltliner vintage 2014

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

At last the Hahndorf Hill GRU 2014  has been bottled and the palletized cartons are now being rested in our cool, underground cellars for the next 2 months before being released in September.

Hahndorf Hill Gruner in storage

Larry with Hahndorf Hill Gruner Veltliner 2014

As I’m typing, I’m sipping on a chilled glass of the 2014 – and I can tell you it’s going to be a real beauty!

The vintage in summary is as follows:
Vintage 2014 had one of the coldest starts to the season that I can recall over the past 15 years, with extreme frost events throughout November.  I was, in fact, still lighting a fire at home one week before Christmas!

All this chill at the beginning of the growing season resulted in some of the smallest crops on record right across the Adelaide Hills region. As you can imagine, with yields down and quality the only winner, the 2014 wines are going to be in high demand with lean supplies.

The Gruner Veltliner 2014 was hand-harvested during March and, as expected, yields were low – but the grapes were great!

Some of the grapes were straight fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts, whereas other batches of grapes were crushed separately, with the juice having some skin contact (to develop the all-important texture) and were then wild fermented in old French barriques. In the end, we had an exciting range of different options from which the final blend for GRU 2014 was made.

In the glass, the wine has an extraordinary vibrant, shimmering, green-gold colour and the nose leaps out with pears, stone-fruit, custard apple and spice.  On the palate it is an ethereal beauty! An elegant citrus backbone is surrounded by a vibrant tumble of caramelised citrus, spicy stone-fruit and pear that lingers on the palate with a long, textural tail.

I know that every year I say it … but I suspect this is going to be our best Gruner yet! Can’t wait for you to try it …

To register for pre-release allocations of our 2014 GRU Gruner Veltliner and for further Gruner information – please go to http://bit.ly/XUJJct

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner Australia, Hahndorf | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hahndorf Hill Gruner Veltliner 2014 – Adelaide Hills wine

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

GRU 2014 is almost born! All the building blocks are in place and we are just about to put together the final blend.

But first some thoughts about the vintage in general terms.

2014 will – for me – be remembered as one of the coolest starts to the summer season which dramatically affected the bunch numbers, bunch sizes and ultimately, the amount of fruit we were able to harvest. This impacted not only on Gruner Veltliner in the vineyard, but virtually all other varieties were affected to a greater or lesser extent. However, I am also keen to point out that what we lost in volume, we more than amply made up for in quality!  I would like to predict that the white wines from vintage 2014 are going to charm everybody with their wonderful aromatics, their fine form and body.

And the Gruner Veltliner is going to be no exception!   I have just been tasting all the different fermentation components that will be blended together to make up GRU 2014 – and they are all gorgeous.

There is the portion that was harvested early to give that fresh, zesty backbone to the wine and which is loaded with spicy citrus. Another portion was harvested at a riper level and fermented with a different yeast and this building block is richer, offering grapefruit and stone fruit complexity.

Larry Jacobs with Adelaide Hills wine

Larry Jacobs of Hahndorf Hill with Gruner Veltliner – 2014

Then there are the various components that were wild-fermented and which bring a funky, unctuous twist to the party.

All I can say is that GRU 2014 is going to be the best ever and you will simply have to try it yourself! (To be released in September this year.)

Other good news is that two of our Gruner Veltliners received awards at the prestigious Berliner Wein Trophy competition in Germany. The HHW GRU 2013 was awarded a Silver Medal and the yet-to-be-released 2013 GRU2 was awarded a Gold Medal. (To be released September this year.)

To register for pre-release allocations of our 2014 GRU Gruner Veltliner and for further Gruner information – please go to http://bit.ly/XUJJct

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

Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner vintage 2014 – wrapup

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Well, vintage 2014 is finally going to be put to bed in about two weeks’ time with the harvest of our Shiraz grapes. It has been an extraordinary year which saw an unusually cold start to the season – I recall lighting a fire one evening, five days before Christmas!

This cold start to summer had a huge impact on the flowering of the grapes with the end result being small crops with small, loose bunches comprised of small berries. This impact was generally felt right across the Adelaide Hills wine region, with growers reporting some of the smallest harvests on record.

The subsequent more dramatic weather events such as the heatwave in January/ February and the sudden heavy rainfalls of up to 150mm had relatively less impact in the vineyard. As far as I could see, it was only the small, chicken-berries, originally caused by that cold, that were damaged by the heat and rain.

Overall, although the crops were small, the quality has been fantastic and what we have sacrificed in yield, we have made up amply with quality. I expect this vintage to produce some of the most beautiful aromatic white varieties seen in years. And so far, although we have not picked all our reds, we are seeing great colour and flavour development.
In the winery, all ferments are running like clockwork with even the wild ferments roaring towards the finish line without a hitch. So all bodes well …

Gruner Veltliner in the Adelaide Hills Australia

Gruner Veltliner harvest at Hahndorf Hill – March 2014

And this finally brings me to the Gruner Veltliner harvest of 2014, which can be summarised as having small crops, intense flavours and exciting ferments.
Already the ferments are showing a complex and exciting mix of aromas and flavours from zesty, spicy grapefruit, through to tropical fruit salad and tobacco. This will be our 5th vintage of Gruner and the 2nd vintage that utilizes components from all six of our clones and clonal selections that we have growing at our Hahndorf Hill vineyard. (First batch of clones imported 2006 and second batch imported in 2009. )

Can’t wait to make up the final blend and get it into bottle!

To register for pre-release allocations of our 2014 GRU Gruner Veltliner and for further Gruner information – please go to http://bit.ly/XUJJct

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

Vintage 2014 – the small, cold year

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

Gruner veltiner bunch vintage 2014 at Hahndorf Hill

Gruner Veltliner bunch vintage 2014 at Hahndorf Hill

Sure we’ve had heat spikes and one huge rain event this vintage, but the defining feature of this vintage would have to be the cold. It was the seemingly never-ending cold weather between September and till virtually just before Christmas that has had the biggest impact on all the varieties which we will be harvesting this autumn.

Gruner Veltliner, more specifically, has been impacted quite profoundly since its flowering occurred during the cold, wet and windy conditions of spring. The consequence of this has been extremely significant and interesting – and has resulted in the smallest crop with the smallest bunches and the smallest berries that I have experienced since planting this exciting variety in 2008.

Given that Gruner Veltiner is normally known for its extraordinary generosity of fruit production and bunches that can be of biblical proportions, it is particularly intriguing for me to see the changes this vintage. It is almost as if I’m walking through a vineyard populated by another variety, one that has petite 8o gram bunches composed of shy little berries.  The only clue that this is indeed Gruner Veltliner is the classic blue-green luminosity of the berries.

I am, of course, hoping and anticipating, that this vintage will offer all the quality advantages of über low yields plus small, intense berries and I can barely wait for all the fruit to be picked and the juice to be in the tank. My prediction is that this is going to be the small, cold year that produced big results!

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

Gruner Veltliner vintage 2014, Australia

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

2014-Year-of-horse-1

The 2014 vintage of Gruner Veltliner will soon be upon us and will be our fifth vintage of this exciting white variety at Hahndorf Hill.

2014 is also the Chinese Year of the Horse which, to me, seems a most appropriate symbol to characterise the future hopes that I hold for this variety here at Hahndorf Hill and also in our Adelaide Hills wine region. The horse is one of the Chinese people’s favourite animals with the Year of the Horse being a time for all people to go forward confidently in the direction of their goals and dreams, just as the horse gallops at top speed toward its destination.

So too is it my goal and dream for Gruner Veltliner to march positively forward into the future of the proud and confident Australian wine industry.

Here at Hahndorf Hill, we planted our first Gruner Veltliner vines in 2008 and it is no less exciting today, nearly seven years on, to plan, watch and anticipate as the crop slowly develops under the January South Australian sky.

Gruner has been a challenging, yet brilliant and versatile variety to work with and each passing year has coaxed out new insights and understanding of this charming grape. For example, it is clear that this variety has an extremely giving nature and, if left to her own devices, will swamp you with an abundance of juicy golden/ blue-green berries at harvest time. As attractive as this might seem, it is important to curb this variety’s lavish generosity in order to achieve the desired results in the winery.

In a broader celebration, the past vintage has hatched several new Gruner labels in the Adelaide Hills region, all who have produced exciting and creditworthy examples of this wine. No doubt, vintage 2014 will launch further new examples under Adelaide Hills’ labels and the ones to look out for include Longview, Nepenthe, Tomich Wines, By Jingo, Henschke and others.

You don’t need a Freudian analyst to tell that part of my future dream is for Gruner Veltliner to become the ultimate hero-variety of this wine region, the Adelaide Hills.

If I were a wealthy race horse breeder I would christen my next best nag ‘Gruner’ and I’d be in the front row at the races shouting ‘Go Gruner, Go!’

To register for pre-release allocations of our 2014 GRU Gruner Veltliner and for further Gruner information – please go to http://bit.ly/XUJJct

 

Posted in Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Hills wine region, Blaufrankisch, cool climate wine, Gruner Veltliner, roses, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment