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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Weingut Pittnauer Burgenländer Rot

Austria (Burgenland)

zweigelt (40%), blaufrankish (40%), St. Laurent (20%)

Weingut Pittnauer Burgenländer Rot 2009

Black cherry red in the glass, emitting earthy, dark berry aromas. A fresh, acidic balance, steeped in plum-like fruit. Medium-bodied, naturally good. Every sip a reason to return to the glass. For a wine below $20, it’s exceptional value.  $

This is a basic red (“rot”) blend from Weingut Pittnauer. Not a profound wine but for sure a very good one. It is one of several wines reaching the North American market from Gehard and Brigitte Pittanuer. Theirs is the second domaine I have experienced from the eleven-person Austrian wine growers association known as Pannobile. (The other was Claus Preisinger.)  Burgenländer Rot is not a wine selected for Pannobile release, (the experience of that wine will come in time, I’m hoping) but nevertheless, I get a very good vibe here. The Pittanuers have their wine growing hearts in exactly the place I would wish them to be.

“When in doubt, always quality before speed.” And again, “Fully in the present, without forgetting the past, but also, without exaggerating it.”

They are traditionalists and modernists at the same time. Situated in the eastern shore of the Neusiedlersee, near its border with Hungary, the region can point to a history of winemaking that dates back two thousand years. The Pittnauers take time-honored methods (a manual, natural approach in the vineyard) and meld them with modern cellar techniques that allow the grapes to express themselves, whether in the use of pneumatic pressing, of stainless steel or oak, or of temperature control. They stress the use of native varietals, and the importance of terroir rooted in deep limestone soils.

All against the backdrop of an ultra-modern tasting facility. And an approach to marketing that is equally stylish and inventive.

Gerhard was eighteen when control of the estate fell to him. His was an abrupt apprenticeship, but a turning point came with the discovery that the wines which most appealed to him, that seemed most vibrant and alive, were from estates which had embraced the culture of biodynamics. Today his vineyard area of 16 hectares has undergone 100% conversion. The Pittnauers remain open to experimentation, for always there is the urge to produce better and better wines. Their approach is instinctual, relying foremost on the human senses to direct them. Hands-on, enviromentally-positive, all-in-all good folks you would trust no matter what Pittnauer bottle you were to open.


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