2019 Judith Beck 'Hunny Bunny'
Region: Neusiedlersee <Burgundland < Austria
Grapes: Blaufränkisch, Rotburger (AKA Zweigelt)
Vineyard/Cellar stats: Biodynamic farming; limestone, sandstone soils; de-stemmed, 3 day whole cluster maceration then fermented in stainless steel and racked off skins and moved into large neutral acacia wood casks for aging before blending and bottling unfined/unfiltered, with no added So2; zero-zero; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Judith Beck
While Austria is still mostly known for white wines, the red wines of the country are the insider secret. Rotburger (formerly called Zweigelt), a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent, is the nation's signature red grape, producing wines similar to Pinot Noir: bright, tart and fruity.
Judith Beck took over her small family estate, consisting of 15 hectares of biodynamically tended vines (certified since 2007), in 2014. She trained at the famous Bordeaux estate Cos d'Estournel in France before making her own wine back home. When asked about why biodynamic viticulture, she explains how the quality is exponentially better: "First, it was just a change in the vineyard and we focused a lot on improving soil life and building up humus. Then after a few years I realized just how much the quality of the grapes had changed and how much more vibrance and liveliness there was in the wines. For me it was liberating to forget pretty much everything that I had learned in winemaker’s school and just follow my instincts while working with that lovely fruit that I suddenly had."
Her aim is to produce authentic wines with an individual stamp of each's terroir, while at the same time maintaining healthy soil and vines. In the cellar, Judith uses barrels made of old (3rd pass+) acacia wood, in a larger format that she thinks accentuates the clear fruit of Rotburger and Blaufränkisch. “We believe that wine needs to breathe in order to develop thoroughly; that's the reason why we do not use stainless steel tanks for maturation at all.”
Beck Hunny Bunny in Judith's words: "With Hunny Bunny we are further exploring the spectrum of Blaufränkisch. Maceration only for 3 days, but whole grapes. The result is a very light, drinkable, but nonetheless multi-layered, light red wine. Because we can't get enough of it ourselves and the bottle is always empty too quickly, this wine is our favorite, our Hunny Bunny." As for why the label proclaims, "No sexual services" - we have no idea, maybe the cute white bunny is the stuff of kinky fantasies, so she's shutting down that thought down right off the bat. A firm, "No, don't even ask these things from our cute Hunny Bunny"?
Well, one thing we CAN confirm is that Hunny Bunny is insanely delicious and energetic, bursting with bright, tart red fruit and a subtle tongue-tickling effervescence. Soft and light, the crowd-pleasing Bunny shines with a slight chill, and makes an excellent conversation starter.