2020 Umathum Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Neusiedlersee < Burgenland < Austria
Grapes: Sauvignon BlancVineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; sandy loam w/ gravel & silt soils; fermented and aged in stainless steel; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Josef “Pepi” Umathum
Loire Sauv Blanc lovers take note, this biodynamic Austrian SB is as lean and racy as the Frenchies but more budget friendly!
A disenchanted landscape architecture student, Josef 'Pepi' Umathum jumped at the chance to take over his parents’ winery, which they founded in 1958. From the initial 10 acres of land near the vast lake Neusiedlerse in Austria’s center, Umathum grew his family’s holdings to nearly 90 acres. He has been practicing strict selection massale (a method of propagating grape vines using cuttings from an entire vineyard rather than selected clones) to replant his vineyards since the late 1980s, along with organic viticulture. In 2005 he converted completely to biodynamic farming and winemaking, and now he’s even keeping a flock of sheep in his vineyards for manure and pest control. Unlike most Austrian producers who focus on white, Pepi mainly makes reds. But the whites he does are amazing, like this minerally, flinty Sauv Blanc that rivals any of the classic Loire bottles.
From these mineral rich, stony soils and cold climate, Pepi somehow manages to coax expressive, ripe fruit from the grapes while keeping alcohol low. You get ripe tropical fruit, apple and green herbs, along with grapefruit and a lovely crushed stone/smoky minerality. Bone-dry, and as crisp as the Austrian mountain air, the Umathum SB is on par with some of the great Sauvignon Blancs of the Loire Valley (and an incredible value, comparatively).