You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a wine by its label? Not really, of course, but Gut Oggau, an estate by Lake Neusiedl in Austria’s Burgenland province, possibly comes closest to making this true.
The wines here are, quite literally, a family. Each bottle’s label features a line-drawn black and white portrait of a fictional family member, of one of three generations, and the back label explains their imagined personality. So, for example, we learn that Mechthild (a white wine… and the grandmother) is “the ‘kind-hearted grandmother’ of nostalgia that one trusts, but she can be secretive and polarise opinion”. We also learn that Atanasius (a red wine, a grandchild and “an attractive young man”) is “exceptionally popular” but that he “still retains some hidden qualities, which make him even more interesting”. Emmeram (a Gerwürztraminer), incidentally, is convinced that the daughter of Wiltrude (a daughter-in-law and sweet white), Theodora (white), is actually his.
And that’s what you get in terms of information. The 14 hectare estate, in the small Burgenland town of Oggau (thought to be the first place in Austria to grow red grapes), is run by Eduard Tscheppe and Stephanie Eselböck-Tscheppe. They discovered the 17th century winery in 2007 and painstakingly restored it, including its 200 year old winepress. Having been abandoned for 20 years, the soils had been washed clean of the various chemicals used in previous conventional farm work, allowing them to immediately begin biodynamic production using the old vines. The estate is Demeter classified. Each wine is a blend of various varieties of indigenous grapes, including Bläufrankish, Zweigelt, Gruner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Gewürtzraminer. Each wine therefore has quite a distinctive personality – so much so that the winemakers decided literally to make them into “people”, with the aid of German artist, Jung von Matt (whose dedication to the task extends even to slightly ageing the portraits each vintage).
Eduard’s background was in conventional farming, while Stephanie’s family business is a Michelin starred restaurant in Taubenkobel. They realised that the unique environment required careful treatment, and so set out to focus on producing high quality wines from grapes that were processed as gently as possible. The resulting wines are some of the most sought after in Austria, especially due to the relatively low quantities of production.
The soils and vines vary depending on the “generation” of the wine. So the youngest generation is grown in gravel and a small amount of limestone, while the parents and grandparents have more sunlight and a soil made up of schist and limestone. The oldest vines, some 60 years old, are reserved, naturally, for the older generation, as is the old restored winepress. Fermentation takes place spontaneously with naturally occurring indigenous yeast, and is aged in old oak barrels. No filtering of fining occurs in the process.
So, whether you want to experience the energetic and bold children (Atanasius, Theodora and Winifred), their stronger bodied parents (Joschuari, Emmeram, Timotheus and Josephine) or the more traditional grandparents (Mechtild and Bertholdi), it is well worth introducing yourself to this fascinating family.
* Listen to Stephanie & Eduard Tscheppe's podcast on Interpreting wine, by Lawrence Francis
|Weinland "Brut Nature"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||NV|
|Weinland "Theodora"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Timotheus"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Timotheus"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2014|
|Weinland "Timotheus"||Login||Jeroboam (3L)||2013|
|Weinland "Emmeram"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Mechtild"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2011|
|Weinland "Mechtild"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Winifred"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2017|
|Weinland "Atanasius"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Josephine"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2013|
|Weinland "Joschuari"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2014|
|Weinland "Joschuari"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2013|
|Weinland "Joschuari"||Login||Magnum (150cl)||2012|
|Weinland "Joschuari"||Login||Magnum (150cl)||2011|
|Weinland "Joschuari"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2009|
|Weinland "Bertholdi"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2015|
|Weinland "Bertholdi"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2013|
|Weinland "Bertholdi"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2011|
|Weinland "Bertholdi"||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2009|
|Weinland "Family Reunion" white||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2016|
|Weinland "Family Reunion" Rose||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2016|
|Weinland "Family Reunion" Red||Login||Bottle (75cl)||2016|