We’ve selected from new wines, small batches and current favourites: the new Kabinett Riesling of the 400-year-old Pfalz legend, the one-off Portugieser of the Ruppert estate and Nicolas Potel’s Burgundy estate wine in one case.
Légli Brut 2019
“I like making vinous traditional method sparkling wines,” said Ottó Légli, the last time we talked to him. This sentence might sound strange at first, one might say that sparkling wine should be sparkling wine, and that wine should be wine. However, this is also frequently stated in the centre of traditional method winemaking, in Champagne, mostly at smaller grower-champagne producers. Similar to them, Ottó also follows that broader, more flavour-rich traditional method sparkling wine style, whereby beside the bubbles, the wine can also be felt, as well as the structure. His traditional method sparkling wine has been available in new packaging since Christmas, with fresh disgorging, and a lot shorter than usual – only a year and a half – ageing. Beside the Furmint base, it has become this round and balanced by also blending in Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Blanc.
Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Hommage á Luise Riesling 2020
The new wine in the winery's selection is a return to the light, fruity Kabinett style after a long absence. The name pays homage to the memory of Luise Wolf, who, as the wife of the founder Alfred Bürklin, was not only one of the name-givers of the winery, but also took an active part in its operation. While the grapes for the dry base Riesling come almost entirely from the village of Wachenheim, this is made from the produce of the higher, cooler vineyards that are closer to the forest. Peppermint, pineapple and peach aromas, with residual sugar on the palate highlighting the rich fruitiness, while the low alcohol and lively acidity provide a great balance and an almost dry finish.
Bott Frigyes „Zsigmond” Pinot Blanc 2020
Frigyes Bott has a large field to play on. He works with more than 10 grape varieties on 10 hectares and there’s no recipe for any of them – most of the decisions during harvest are made intuitively, and tasting from barrels during the ageing process brings new ideas to the surface. That might be the reason why there are novelties every year, which are often one-off and unrepeatable wines from Frigyes. This is how the single-varietal Pinot Blanc was made in 2020 – blended from two barrels, one of which is the highly regarded Stockinger, one of Frigyes’ best white wine barrels. It stands out in several ways – from the 2020 vintage, this is the only wine of the cellar that has received (slight) filtering, so instead of lees and cloudiness, the pure fruit and Pinot Blanc notes can be felt. The other important detail is that the wine was bottled at the time of the birth of Zsigmond Bott, the second grandson. Hence the name and the unusual label.
Ruppert Portugieser Mindenki Asztala 2020
The Rupperts show something new almost every year. An example was the Bolond Kalapos (i.e. Mad Hatter) wine in 2019: a nouveau Portugieser wine fermented in whole bunches – the way they do in Beaujolais. It became so great that we waited for the third Thursday (of November) with it, so that we could show it with the French Beaujolais Nouveau wines. And now, here is the next one: the variety is the same, but the winemaking is completely different. “In Villány, almost everyone makes Portugieser, but everybody does it in a slightly different way. Now, we are also showing how we tackled this variety – everybody has a place at the table,” says Andris Ruppert.
Instead of nouveau wine aromas, the more restrained side of the variety – with subtly rustic notes, a light and smooth palate with lingering flavours – can be felt. It comes from an old, 1.4-hectare plot in the Diósviszló vineyard. Harvesting took place on the last day of August, then following the bunch and berry selection, the wine was fermented traditionally in open vats with manual punching down. Shortly after pressing, the fresh wine was put into used, 225-litre barrels, in which it was aged for 4 months.
Weninger Hochacker Blaufrankisch 2018
One of the most important of Franz Weninger’s Austrian vineyards, which also has one of the longest histories in Horitschon. The soil is almost stone-free, and thick, containing clay and rich in iron. The character of the wine is pure, direct and round, more substantial and somewhat zestier than the Kékfrankos wines of the Hungarian side. It’s fresher and more thirst-quenching, “complex but not opulent,” says Franz. Vines of over 40 years of age, biodynamic cultivation, spontaneous fermentation in concrete and wooden vats, then ageing in 500-litre barrels for 20 months.
The Hochacker is completely different – the soil is thicker and cooler. By thicker I mean it’s rich in loam and clay, thus it keeps a lot more moisture around the roots, and the plant can only get nutrition through water. That’s why I always say that Hochacker is like a well-fed child but in the cool soil, it always has cold feet, thus, the wines have a lively, acidic backbone. – F.W.
Bellene Maison Dieu Vieilles Vignes 2019
Nicolas Potel is one of our most reliable sources when it comes to small-batch, hand-made Burgundies. He grew up on one of the brightest estates of Volnay (Domaine de la Pousse d’Or), and he brought everything that comes with it with himself: knowledge of the place of growth that goes back several generations, a network of contacts and the user manual to the tangled wine world of Burgundy. These were all needed when he left the wines listed in his own name behind in 2006 to start a new estate in Beaune, under the old arches of the cellar built in the 1600s.
A complex blend from several of the estate’s plots, from altogether 3.7 hectares. The average age of the vines is 70 years, and a large proportion of the selected fruit was fermented in whole bunches, in open vats, then the wine continued to be aged in used Burgundy barrels. An energetic, unexpectedly rich and layered wine with a lingering, gentle, warm finish.