A Wine That
makes the world stop for a minute as you drink it. It is a pensive wine, a wine that makes you want to find a pen and a piece of paper so you can try to vocalise how it makes you feel. It is a wine that defies all expectations - the shy kid in school that ends up having the most successful career. On first sip, it tastes like the finest Champagne, but then, on the second sip, you realise that there are secrets ebbing beneath the surface. It is a dazzling wine of mystery, and we challenge anyone to nail this in a blind tasting.
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- Winemaker: Christoph Hoch
Tune in, and hear it from the Winemaker:
Where & How?
From Hollenburg in the Kremstal region of Austria, this is 80% Pinot Blanc from a single 30-year-old vineyard on unique conglomerate soils that are very similar to those of Champagne. The final 20% is made up from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. This is the star of Christoph's cellar. The "reserve" wine, or "base" wine, is matured for one year in old barrels, with no additions. During harvest the following year, he adds fermenting juice from a vineyard that is tended specifically for this wine. He calls this juice the “Hochleistungssturm, or HLS for short” - a word that Christoph invented. It translates as "High Performance Fermenting Juice". Doing the blending for this wine is very tricky and takes a lot of care - it has to be done at exactly the right time, as the fermentation is in constant flux.
In Christoph's words, "the juice tells us when it's ready, the human being cannot decide!" This results in a completely dry wine with just the correct amount of bubbles. It is of utmost importance for it to be dry in order to be naturally stable, as no sulphur is added to this wine. In a nutshell, this creation is an entirely natural method of creating a sparkling wine that goes through two fermentations, Champagne style.
After going to winemaking school, Christoph set out to find high quality wines that excited him, to learn more. He found that among these, there was often a common denominator; they were farmed biodynamically. He started to research biodynamic viticulture, converting his vineyards from 2014.
The first thing you notice when you meet Christoph is that he asks a million questions and he smiles a lot. He is on a constant knowledge quest. He says,
"I suppose that's why I've always called my wines projects. I always have projects going on; some work and then they become my wines! I always want to learn something, to take a step forward and to discover what's possible here on our soil."
On his soil in the Kremstal, Christoph produces sparkling and still wines from Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Zweigelt, Sauvignon Blanc, Blauer Portugieser and Muscat.