Judith Beck, Weissburgunder
Such a generous wine and a great introduction to Judith's style. The fruit is ripe pear apple and peach, with a clean, fresh acidity that cuts it all through. Lots of nice floral notes. Weissburgunder is the name the Austrians give Pinot Blanc, so this wine would most definitely be the bag of those looking for an alternative to the fleshier dry wines of the Alsace.
Grapes: Weissburgender (Pinot Blanc)
Place: Burgenland, Austria
Judith Beck’s winery is run as a family business. Since 1976 the area under vine increased from 5 to 15 ha. Most of the vineyards are situated at the Wagram of the Parndorfer Plate, the most important site of the region. And from 2007 Judith has produced wines in accordance with biodynamic principles. The winery is housed in an impressive airy new building in the middle of the vineyards from Gols. Now the emphasis is on refining the style whilst capturing the potential of the grapes. Judith is passionate about the traditional red wine varieties: Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. She makes the most articulate versions of the latter variety that we tasted on our visit, one called Bambule! which explores the wild side of the grape. Judith is an impressively calm, thoughtful person and that sense of relaxation seems to transmit itself into her wines, which possess a lightness of touch not always apparent in this region.
As mentioned the focus is on the vine growing. Biodynamics is an art of healing which takes advantage of the holistic curativeness of nature. It aims at strengthening the natural resistance of the plant. Pest and disease control are mainly affected in a prophylactic manner. “We encourage the formation of humus, as a basis of healthy soils, by regularly applying cattle manure which we prepare ourselves and by cultivating grass between the rows. Herbal teas (such as stinging nettle, chamomile, field horsetail …) and biodynamic field sprays such as horn manure and horn silica are used under the consideration of moon rhythms; their purpose being to strengthen resistance and further the physiological ripeness of grapes.”
The aim is to produce authentic wines with an individual aroma profile while at the same time maintaining healthy soil and vines. Part of this is also the absence of yeasts. Fermentation of the red wines starts spontaneously (without the help of selected yeasts) in stainless steel tanks or in open wooden casks. Part of the red wine matures in large wooden barrels (1000 to 2000 litres). Judith uses barrels made of third generation acacia wood. This larger format accentuates the clear fruit of Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch; and thus is the ideal vessel. “We believe that wine needs to breathe in order to develop thoroughly; that`s the reason why we do not use stainless steel tanks for maturation at all.” St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch Altenberg, Cuvées Pannobile and Judith are matured in classic barriques and 500-litre-barrels as the denser, more structured wines seem to benefit from ageing in small oak barrels. The barrels are meant to support and enhance the characteristics of the wine; the wood influence should however hardly be perceptible and the fruit of the wine should always remain in the foreground. These latter reds mature for between fifteen and twenty-four months in the cellar until the flavours harmonise.