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« Styrian Animals | Main | Gross Tasting »

20 May 2006

Manfred Is Out Of The Office

Manfred Tement's office is a lonely place.  It sits on the perfect spot in Tement Winery's modern cellar-reception-office building.  The outside wall is entirely made of glass.  You can look out over one of the vineyards and into Slovenia.  The office is empty.  No desk.  No phone.  No chair.  In fact, it looks as though no one has stepped foot in the office since it was completed over four years ago.  My host, the ebullient Arno Bergler, explained that his boss Manfred was off working in one of the winery's six vineyard sites, or possibly, down in the cellar.  After a brief tour, Arno and I began tasting the fresh, crisp line of Styrian classic wines by Tement.  A few moments later, I peered up from my glass and noticed a man who looked like he spent all day, every day, outside working in the sun.  It was Manfred Tement, covered head to toe in dust and dirt.  He is indeed a farmer.  Mr. Tement is a quiet, kind man who immediately saw I knew a thing or two about Styrian wine.  He invited me to lunch and placed several bottles of his favorites in a wicker picnic basket to bring along to a neighborhood lunch spot.


Manfred Tement is a hands-on boss

Manfred was only 16, studying winemaking at Austria's famous wine school, Kloster Neuberg, when his father died. His father was a wine farmer who supported the family with only a couple hectares of vines. Manfred immediately took over for his father and began his life's work at this extraordinarily young age. Since that time, Mr. Tement has done quite well. Tement wine is among the most recognizable and popular of Styria's wines.

Manfred's wine also enjoys some promotional star power.  A couple of years ago, Austrian sports icon, Thomas Muster ('95 French Open champion), who grew up near the Tement winery, approached Manfred after purchasing a vineyard of his own. Tement now makes TOMS Wine. Thinking this wine was merely celeb vanity vino, I was perplexed that Manfred brought a bottle of TOMS to lunch. We tasted TOMS, and I was pleasantly surprised that it was just as good as Tement's other classically styled wine.

Manfred is also something of a mad scientist. He explained that he enjoys experimenting with small portions of his harvest each year. He calls it, "wine for freaks." He sells his experimental wine to customers, but only to those who are freakish enough to ask about Tement test wines. Manfred brought one of his freak wines to lunch. It was a 2000 Morillon (Chardonnay), which had been aged five years in small barrels. This wine was made using whole-berry fermentation. It was otherworldly. However, what I found most otherworldly was that he sells it for around ten bucks.

After Manfred and I began eating lunch and exploring more goodies from his picnic basket, guess who rolls up, but Thomas Friggin Muster. He and Manfred are good friends and they exchanged pleasantries in the funkiest Styrian dialect you've ever heard. Muster switched immediately to Aussie-flavored English when he noticed I wasn't from these here parts. I told him he should consider emigrating to California and give Ahnold a run for his money in the next gubernatorial go-round. He didn't laugh. However he did sit with us for a while and sample some of Manfred's tasty creations. Game, set and match - Tement wine. Tement wines are imported into the U.S. by Weygandt-Metzler.  See the Tement photo gallery here.

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I quite enjoy the blog, the famous college for viticulture that you referred to in the text is called "HBLA Klosternueburg" though!
Greetings from Austria!


Ooops, "Klosterneuburg", of course!

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