After a few years at Schloss Gobelsburg, everything seemed to be ticking over quite nicely for Michael Moosbrugger. This monastic estate had a winemaking history stretching all the way back to 1171, but the most recent generation of monks had decided they wanted to modernise, and reached out to Michael for help. In a relatively short time, he was turning out excellent, modern, critically-acclaimed wines from these venerable vineyards. Mission accomplished...
But then came a moment of revelation. A tasting of the older vintages in the estate's cellar revealed something surprising. The wines were not merely simpler, more rustic versions of the new ones. They had an altogether different quality - somehow they seemed more alive.
Michael began studying the meticulous records kept by the monks, eventually going back to the wines of the early 19th century. What he found was a different sort of winemaking, honed over the centuries and adapted to a time without modern technology. He set out to make wine like this again.
His Grüner Veltliner Tradition is not that unusual in eschewing modern winemaking technology. But this is not a straightforward 'low intervention' natural wine - it is made how it would have been 200 years ago, and the winemaking process is very much hands on. In particular, rather than trying to avoid oxygen, it is embraced as part of the process of 'schooling' the wine - raising it from grape juice to wine ready to drink. After spontaneous fermentation with no temperature control, the wine is racked (i.e. moved) from cask to cask every three to four months, to clarify it and encourage it to develop flavours that are normally never found in sterile, modern wine. After about two years, when it is ready, it is bottled.
As Jancis Robinson said of an earlier vintage, this is 'Truly a monastic, historic wine.' It is full-bodied with an enticing floral, apricot and apple character, and a distinct touch of caramel.
The 2016 is now available to pre-order. You could drink it now or keep it for many years - it will only become more fascinating.