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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Weingut Martin Nigl Senftenberger Piri

Austria (Kremstal)

grüner veltliner

The ironwork backdrop is the Eiffel Tower. Our last night in Paris we spent at that most iconic of Parisian landmarks. Like a magnet it draws people from all over the globe. Some come to ascend the tower, some to have their pictures taken under it, others to sit on the grassy promenade and soak up the atmosphere and drink wine. In our case, it’s Nigl at the Eiffel.

Weingut Martin Nigl Senftenberger Piri Grüner Veltliner 2010

Refreshing aromas enhancing a brilliant night.  Clean, mineral, and flavourful. There is crystalline sparkle in the taste. Dry, but with a thin sweet edge. There is crisp fruit to be found — apple in particular — but the foremost attraction is the lace-like elegance, as in the structure towering over us. It is made to remember.  $

This Nigl grüner veltliner was recommended to me for current drinking by Emmanuel Dupuis of Chapitre 20, a small, classy new wine ship in Paris. (Besides the broad range of wines, a good number of them from outside France, it has an exceptional selection of wine books and maps.) This is not the higher end ‘Privat’ bottling of the domaine, but is made from grapes grown on the Piri vineyard, one of the foremost sites of the Kremstal, and Martin Nigl‘s premier site for this varietal.

Founded in 1986 by his parents, the 25-hectare domaine
(about an hour west of Vienna) is still very much a family operation. Vineyard practice is the central focus, with constant monitoring of the vines. The soil is weathered granite, which gives the wines their mineral characteristics. Hot summer days followed by a distinct cooling off at night is also a major influence.

All grapes are hand-picked. Only fully ripened fruit is gathered, resulting in several passages through the vineyards for a harvest of six or seven weeks. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, following which the wine is allowed to rest on its lees for a time before being racked off. Bottling is done with minimal fining and filtration. In all, 7500 cases are produced annually, mostly white, the estate being equally well-known for its riesling.

Wiengut Martin Nigl is set among terraced vineyards, beneath castle ruins dating to the  12th century. In addition to the winery, the Nigl family has incorporated a hotel and restaurant on the site. Lucky guests. Then again, drinking the bottle of Nigl with the Eiffel Tower sparkling above the glass was rather a terrific lot of fun.


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