Great Expectations | Gols’ Finest Vintners Praise the Weather Gods

The Viennese love their white wines young and fresh. Winemakers in Gols would prefer to wait.

Farmers the world over complain about the weather – too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. Wine growers are no different – that is, mostly: The white wine bounty of 2017 has left Austria’s vintners singing praises to the weather gods. Last year was magic for the grapes on the vine, and this year for the drinkers of the wine. Andreas Nittnaus, who runs a vineyard in Gols, put it simply: “ The grapes decide, there’s not much we can change after that.” Leo Hillinger’s Kellermeister Peter Zuschlag, with his academic credentials and gleaming steel tanks, added with cool German understatement: “All I do is put the fruit unchanged into the bottles.” Not true of course. But what is certain is that the 2017s will be great for drinking.

What is perhaps surprising is the growers’ general irritation with the Viennese and their Heuriger tadition, which shows an undisguised preference for very young wines. This pressures winemakers to bottle much of their white wine before it is really ready. The stuff is fresh, fruity and pleasant enough to drink, but it lacks the depth it could have developed. Also, wine drawn off the lees (the yeast sediment) too soon won’t hold up for long. So if you buy young, you’d better drink it soon.

Still, it is touching how much vintners identify with their product, and many seem personally offended by having to sell their tender young wines before they are ready: “It’s rape,” dismissed Georg Preisinger. Better to hold back for higher quality (and prices).

But the forces of the market can be irresistible: “Everyone wants to be the first,” said the pragmatic Ingrid Wenzl. And last year, there was an additional problem: Hail and early frost decimated the 2016 harvest, and by late 2017, many growers had nothing left to sell, forcing them to bottle the new vintage even earlier.

The good news is that farmers were well prepared for 2017’s April/May late frosts that could have catastrophically crippled the young buds. By burning huge bales of straw in the vineyards, growers kept the freezing air from settling, and a combination of fortunate winds and long, all-night vigils helped make 2017 a successful vintage.

A long, hot summer and ideal picking conditions followed. A collective sigh of relief from growers and drinkers alike. This time, the weather was on our side.

Gol’s Finest

The village of Gols doesn’t do charm, but almost every third house is a Weingut. Here are some good places to start.

WEINGUT GEORG PREISINGER

Neubaugasse 26, Gols

2017 “Mit Leichtigkeit,” fresh & light cuvée of Welschriesling, Pinot blanc & Müller-Thurgau.

€6.80

BIOWEINGUT CHRISTIAN & THOMAS WEISS

Volksfestgasse 12, Gols
02173 21 23
2017 classic young Grüner Veltliner & Welschrieslings, drink soon and enjoy.

Untere Hauptstrasse 105, Gols

02173 21 86

2017 unusual crisp-edged Chardonnay from Heideboden terroir, a revelation at

€8.70

WEINGUT WENZL-KAST

Kellergasse 14, Gols
02173 34 19
A classical Grüner Veltliner with a tangy, Granny Smith edge.

€6.00

Across the Lake in Jois

LEO HILLINGER

Hill 1

02160 83 17 0

2017 Sauvignon blanc, perfectly ripened fruit, but still “athletic” in taste.

€ 11.60

Simon Ballam
English, studied in NY and worked in London, Düsseldorf, NY, Fankfurt, Prague and Vienna. This covered stints in market research and the film industry, international advertising coordination and strategic planning. Currently business school lecturer and journalist.

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