2018 Umathum Gelber und Roter Traminer
Region: Neusiedlersee < Burgenland < Austria
Grapes: Gelber + Roter TraminerVineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; 40+ year old vines on sandy loam w/ gravel & silt soils; fermented for a few hours on skins in old wooden casks then aged 6 mos in large old casks; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Josef “Pepi” Umathum
Spicy, intensely aromatic 50/50 blend of biodynamic Austrian oddball grapes makes the prettiest holiday feast wine - turkey dinner, meet your match!
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 wines, Pepi mainly makes reds. But the whites he does are amazing, like this spicy, floral white blend.
From these mineral rich, stony soils and cold climate, Pepi somehow manages to coax expressive, ripe fruit from the grapes while keeping alcohol low. It smells heavenly, like orange peel and roses, but it tastes more grown-up, like tangerine-grapefruit soda with a hint of honey Despite the floral notes, the palate is bone-dry, and as crisp as the Austrian mountain air, with enough zippy acidity to balance and sweep away the fruit and flowers so all that lingers is a cool, refreshing sensation.