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20 June 2006

Kollwentz: Full Throttle

NascarvintnerAndi Kollwentz is a NASCAR dad. At least that was my initial thought as I shook his hand. He was decked out in Blades shades, black denim; and sported a soul patch. Andi, a second generation winemaker, offered me a tour of a few of the family's vineyard sites in his old mint-cream Mercedes diesel sedan. As we bounced over the dirt road (while I worried the car was going to drop an oil pan, or break an axle), my impression of him as Nascar enthusiast vanished. He showed me how he meticulously prunes and trains each vine. I also noticed Andi alternates between tilled soil and grass covered soil on either side of his plants. He mentioned that this was an attempt to regulate how much water is collected by the vines' roots.

Kollwentzwine Andi's pride and joy is his Dürr vineyard site. It is tucked into the middle of a hilltop forest. To enter the vineyard, one must duck through a vegetation-choked path. The view is stunning. I could see all of Lake Neusiedl, and into Hungary. Andi has just begun producing Pinot Noir from this site. From the 2004 vintage, he produced only 1,000 bottles or so. This wine is ohmygoodness good. As I sniffed and sipped the wine, I closed my eyes and was transported to Burgundy. It is classic Pinot Noir. Delicately perfumed with earth, mint and cherry. In the mouth, Dürr Pinot Noir tickles with bracing acidity, much like a white wine, but then finishes with rich cocoa notes and velvety tannins. I can picture a line forming already for this wine.

The Kollwentz winery also produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc (rare for this part of Austria), Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, a few red cuvees and two stunning dessert wines - an eiswein from Welschriesling and TBA from Scheurebe. My favorite white wine was the "Gloria" Chardonnay 2004. I found this wine to be a fantastic mix of barrique-influenced richness and raw minerality. Honestly, it is one of the best Chardonnays I have tasted in recent memory. Overall, every single Kollwentz wine I sampled was of the highest quality. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend each and every one of these wines. Kollwentz wine is imported to the U.S. by Vin DiVino.

Stay tuned for my interview with Andi Kollwentz. We discuss his winemaking philosophy, interest in biodynamic viticulture and learn the history of Cabernet Sauvignon in Burgenland - which was first planted by Andi's father, Anton.

See my Kollwentz photo gallery here.

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