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17 May 2006

Wohlmuth: Simply Elegant

WohlmuthLet's say you have a glass of mystery wine in front of you. Before you are able to sniff or taste, you're told that the winemaker's philosophy goes something like this:

"A good wine is one, which can be shared between two people. In other words, the bottle is open, enjoyed by both individuals and finished before the evening is through."

You would want to give it a try, no? This is how I paraphrase the winemaking ethos, which Gerhard Wohlmut, Sr., and his son, Gerhard Jr., share. I can honestly say after tasting through 15+ Wohlmut wines, that this philosophy is present in each bottle.

If I had to describe the wines of Weingut Wohlmuth with one word, I would select, "pretty." Nearly all the wines I sampled seemed quite feminine - perfumed, inviting and just a little bit perplexing (it's good to be kept on your toes). For example, I jotted the name Lolita (borrowed from a great wine philosopher) in my notes upon sampling Wohlmuth's single vineyard 2005 Muskateller (Muscat). It was fresh, lively and full of floral and white pear scents. Even though this wine seemed dainty and demure in the glass; once it hit my tongue I was knocked off balance with a jarring jab of acidity. Lolita - with an attitude. Serious wine, which is seriously good. The nimble acidity of this wine was a distinct leitmotif of the tasting.

At the other end of the Wohlmuth white wine catalog sits the 2005 "Elite" Sauvignon Blanc. It's made from grapes grown on the hottest vineyard sites, that are harvested in early November (i.e. really, really ripe grapes). 100% of this wine is fermented in one year old French oak barrels. In other words, before I tasted this wine, I expected it to be a heavy duty, if not downright pudgy, expression of Sauvignon. Yes, the wine is certainly rich and decadent. However, it still cracks the acid whip. Thus, making this wine the perfect full-bodied white. It's large enough to please the heavy duty white wine drinkers, yet nimble enough to please those, like myself, who prefer delicate whites.

For those in the U.S., the wines of Wohlmuth are fairly well distributed. And by the way, the first Austrian wine I ever sampled was the Sauvignon Blanc. I thank the Wohlmuth family for igniting a spark which grew into a passion for Austrian wine.

Stay tuned for my interview/podcast with Gerhard, Jr. We spoke at the beautiful restaurant Weinhof Kappel, over a traditional Styrian lunch of fresh salad dressed with pumpkin seed oil & balsamic, pork tenderloin medallions with pan fried polenta and sauerkraut (which, is nothing like the godawful stuff, that passes for kraut at a supermarket deli or hot dog stand).

Listen to my interview with Gerhard at Winecast

View my Wohlmuth photo gallery here.

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Comments

Emily

Love that description of "Lolita" for the Muskateller...pretty, but with something going on under the surface. Perfect.

Keep up the great reports!

Jameson

How incredible is the pumpkin seed oil in Austria!?! It makes a skinless, boneless, flavorless chicken breast taste good! I'd pour it on my Wheaties!

The color of the oil is something indescribable as well. It's kind of brown/green but has a haunting, kind of muted absinthe tinge to it. Degas should have painted "The Pumpkin Seed Oil Eater" instead. I trust you are carting some back to the USA.

beau

J-
Dig this; for dessert tonite I had creampuffs glazed with pumpkin seed oil! One Styrian (southern Austrian) told me that Pumpkin seed oil is like heroin for austrians..

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