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Over the past generation, Weingut Jurtschitsch has become one of the most prominent wineries in Austria. Having previously been run by the three brothers Edwin, Paul and Karl Jurtschitsch, the family-owned winery has now been passed on to the younger generation, Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife, Stefanie Hasselbach (of Gunderloch fame in the Rheinhessen). Recently on Instagram, Rajat Parr visited the Jurtschitsch winery and posted, “Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife Stefanie are the best young producers in Austria. In a tasting, Jurtschitsch’s wines blew us away. His Rieslings from Loiserberg and Heiligenstein are penetrating, lasting and intense. Thrilling in their edge and precision, they vibrate on the tongue and sides of the mouth. The Heiligenstein Riesling is a showstopper, but we have to call out the brilliant Gruner Veltliners at this estate, too. #theatlasoftaste”
Alwin and Stef are leaders in the natural wine movement in the Kamptal. It’s a unique story because they happen to have the oldest winery in the area, dating back to the 16th century. It was purchased by Alwin’s family in 1868. When he and Stef started working at the winery in 2006, they insisted with Alwin’s father and uncles on converting all the vineyards to organic viticulture. For the amount of work that organic viticulture takes, the first step was to rent out some of the land that they own. They used to have 80 hectares and now they are working with 60 hectares so that they can focus on quality rather than quantity. Their most famous vineyard is the Riesling Heiligenstein—the greatest site in the Kamptal—with an exceptional terroir of desert sandstone and volcanic conglomerate.
In the vineyards, Stef and Alwin they are continually trying to improve how they work. They are replanting more densely. One current trial is using whey exclusively in certain vineyards to treat for mildew instead of using copper sulphate, and they are also working with new pruning methods. All the vineyards are certified organic and protecting biodiversity has always been a priority. Jurtschitsch explained to us this summer, “The more life you have in the vineyard, the more stable the entire system is.” In their vineyards, you find fruit trees, grass, garlic, wildflowers and butterflies.
In February 2016, David Schildknecht described the Jurtschitsch wines as “strikingly delicious, complex, and compulsively drinkable.” Jurtschitsch is going for a classic style of Kamptal wines, but more like an old-style of classic. Stefanie Jurtschitsch manages the winemaking and she is making wines which let the vineyards and soils speak for themselves. It’s common in Lower Austria that producers push ripeness, and Jurtschitsch concentrates on keeping freshness and elegance rather than power. The wines show restraint and are each very expressive of its terroir. They only use spontaneous fermentations and work without any additions, aside from minimal sulfur. The entry level wines are made in stainless steel, but all the single vineyard Erste Lagen wines are aged in large oak foudres.
The wines shine in multi-faceted elegance, offering drinking pleasure at highest level without being baroque and heavy. The Grüner Veltliner wines interpret the Kamp Valley’s spiciness at its finest, while the Rieslings impress with their crystalline minerality. The renowned Gault Millau wine guide most recently called the Jurtschitsch winery “the most exciting one in Langenlois at present”!