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Michael Gindl began making wine at his family estate in the Weinviertel while attending agricultural school in his teens. Now, at 33 years old, he’s one of the most riveting winemakers in Austria. Inspired by the wines of his grandfather, which were made with nearly no manipulation or intervention, he converted his winery and vineyards to Demeter biodynamics and began experimenting. The wines were certified biodynamic by Demeter from the 2014 vintage.
His 10 hectare vineyard is planted extremely densely, with 7,000-10,000 vines per hectare (compared to the average 3,000 vines common in the area) growing in loam and loess soil. This forces the vines to behave highly competitively, resulting in low yields of highly concentrated fruit. He uses cover crops to keep down weeds and pest control is handled by the buzzards (buteos) that roam the vineyards. He tucks his shoots instead of cutting them off at the top so that the energy of the plant goes to the fruit, rather than the stress of making new shoots at the cut end. All vineyard work is done by hand or horse - Michael currently has three horses for work on the farm. He harvests his 10 hectares by hand in three passes. The first pass goes into the Little Buteo and he keeps a higher percentage of the fruit from the loam soil for Little Buteo. The second pass goes into a cuvee called Buteo and has more from loess soils that is similar to the Little Buteo, but with more fruit and body and aged in oak. The third pass goes into Buteo ‘Twelve”, which gets more skin contact and is made in an oxidative style. The oldest Gruner Veltliner from 60 year-old vines goes into Michael's top cuvee, the Sol - it is 60% old-vine Gruner and 40% Weissburgunder from sandy soil. Gindl has a fully biodynamic farm, complete with highland cattle, goats, wheat, vegetables and fruits.
In the cellar he uses only native fermentation, extended aging on lees, some maceration on the skins (the length of time depends on the cuvee), and the wines are bottled unfiltered. For aging and fermentation he uses a mix of stainless steel and large wooden barrels. The barrels themselves are made using oak and acacia harvested from Gindl’s own land. His friend is a local barrel maker and he makes the barrels for him.
A good story is an excellent thing but the really impressive thing here is the wines. We’ve tasted a lot of Grüner and nothing like this has ever crossed our path. Complex, rich, and fascinating, they defy expectations and express a side of the region and terroir that previously went unspoken.