Ried Spitzerberg, Blaufrankisch, 2016

  Muhr van der Niepoort

Contains Sulphites.

About Muhr van der Niepoort

The exciting Muhr-Van der Niepoort project began in 2002 as a collaboration between Austrian PR guru Dorli Muhr and celebrated Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort. Following twenty years of travelling and working together in Portugal and Italy, Dorli was longing for the refreshing cool-climate red wines of her native Austria. Thus, she bought a tiny parcel of Blaufrankisch vines on the Spitzerberg hill, in what was then the relatively unknown region of Carnuntum. Located in the eastern part of the country and moderated by close proximity to the Danube, Carnuntum is one of the warmest, driest parts of Austria, making it particularly adept at producing red wines.

The Spitzerberg is an extraordinary terroir, being on almost pure limestone and calcareous sandy soils. Hard, meagre and low-yielding, it produces wines with clear minerally pocked textures, bright aromatics and ravishing acidities. Dorli and Dirk’s first vintage yielded a mere 500L of juice, which they fermented and vinified in the cellar of a local friend. From small beginnings though Muhr-Van der Niepoort has steadily grown through a strategy of buying-up and tending to old, formerly abandoned plots, fallow ground and planting new vines; investing a great deal in the process. A small cellar was built in 2007 and a full time oenologue, Lukas Brandstatter, was brought on in 2014 from neighbouring Burgenland. Dirk Niepoort remains a key strategic consultant to the winery and is always close at hand.

The estate converted to fully organic viticulture in 2015 and over the past fifteen years has grown to 12 hectares in size, producing an average of 30k bottles a year - still small by anyone’s standards. Harvesting is carried out entirely by hand and in the winery the wines are left to ferment slowly in traditional wooden vats with wild yeasts and varying proportions of whole bunches. Samt & Seide (Velvet & Silk) is the core wine of the estate making up at least half of the total production. Pure Blaufrankisch entirely from the Spitzerberg and aged in traditional Austrian Fuders, it comes from a selection of parcels of different vine ages located at different aspects and altitudes, blended to produce a very complete, accomplished and fresh style of wine offering up saline acidities amongst cushioned forest fruit. A model of gentle extractions, pure fruit and moreish drinkability, it really lives up its name. A Ried Spitzerberg is produced in very small quantities from the oldest vines. Stylistically more serious and structured, it is a true “vin de garde” and has all the elements to age beautifully over decades. Finally, and although a smaller part of the production, Dorli is delighted with their white wine; a Prellenkirchen (village) Gruner Veltliner from 35 year old vines blended with up to 10% Riesling which gives it a lift of freshness and perfume. Incredibly saline and savoury-spicy on the palate, it is an amazingly intense and complex style of Gruner that pairs extremely well with food. Great terroir, a talented team, and beautifully balanced wines make Muhr-Van der Niepoort one of Austria’s leading producers. We are delighted to be representing the estate exclusively in the UK from 2018.

Appellation: Carnuntum

Carnuntum is one of the lesser known regions of Austria when compared with the mighty Wachau and Wagram. However, it is likely Austria’s most exciting and dynamic area of red wine production today. Zweigelt is widely planted, as is Blaufrankisch, and quality conscious growers are getting to grips with wines that combine fruit richness and full ripeness with the bright, crunchy alpine aromas that make cool-climate Austrian wines so attractive. Unlike the broad reaches of Burgenland, the Carnuntum vineyards are more mountainous with a complex range of soils, including sand, gravel, limestone and dense loam. Although the summers are warm and dry, most of the top vineyards are in close enough proximity to the Danube to benefit from its cooling influence. The Spitzerberg vineyards in the eastern part of the region are widely seen as the most propitious terroirs and its fabulous red wines are the driving factor behind Carnuntum’s rise from relative obscurity over the last decade. White wines are playing an increasingly important role, and around the village of Prellenkirchen Gruner Veltliner is particularly successful, digging deep into the mineral rich soils to produce wines of savoury, saline complexity as opposed to the more gourmand, fruity examples found elsewhere.

Grape Type: Blaufrankisch

Blaufrankisch (aka Lemberger) is a black-skinned grape grown across Europe but most significantly in Austria and Hungary, Tiny quantities are also grown in the United States, most notably in New York's Finger Lakes but also in various parts of Washington (the Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills, Yakima Valley), and such far-flung states as California, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Colorado. The common feature in Blaufrankisch wines from all of these places is a fruit-forward profile with aromas of spiced black cherries. In Austria, Blaufrankisch is the second most popular red-wine variety behind Zweigelt – a crossing of Blaufrankisch with Austria's other signature red variety, Saint-Laurent. It is grown in almost every Austrian wine region to some extent, but its stronghold is unquestionably Burgenland where approximately 2632 hectares (6504 acres) were cultivated in 2015.