Styrian Frontiers – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Styria’s vineyards have re-emerged, with some of the world’s most distinguished wines. David Schildknecht reports.

…Sauvignon blanc is also the standard-bearer at Weingut Lackner-Tinnacher, a 67-acre estate three miles west of Tement’s, under the direction of Katharina Tinnacher since 2010. Fresh from completing her university dissertation on “The Interaction between Vine, Soil and Microclimate,” Tinnacher was determined to subject her family’s single-vineyard wines to “an interpretation that will reveal even more the characteristics of the site.” Besides converting to organic viticulture, she began systematically selecting vines from all of the grape varieties on the estate and having them propagated by a local nursery. Estate-specific selections would not just guarantee genetic diversity and, as such, insurance against vine illnesses. Tinnacher believes they would also be the key to fully expressing the unique characteristics of her vineyard sites. Three single-vineyard sauvignons here reflect stark differences in elevation, wind exposure, water retention and geological underpinnings.

The effects of site on flavor—while mediated by style, viticultural regimen and vine genetics—are ultimately decisive if growers hope to justify multiple single-vineyard bottlings. Styria is replete with impressive examples of distinct differences between wines that differ significantly only in site, many of which may depend on the consistency and rock or clay content of their soils. Meager clay content and rapid drainage in Katharina Tinnacher’s gravelly Steinbach (“stone brook”) site no doubt force vine roots deep and may still, in some vintages, induce drought stress. But, as in so many growing regions, it’s hard to believe that soil chemistry does not play a role, too. The Steinbach sauvignon typically features ripe orchard fruits while Tinnacher sauvignon from the Welles and Flamberg, both sites high in active lime (the latter, like Zieregg, a former coral reef ), runs toward citrus fruits and struck-flint pungency. Many growers associate high active lime (calcaire) in soils with energy, lift and enhanced acidity in the resultant wines, a hypothesis that seems to find frequent
confirmation in Styria……