2018 Wenzel 'Sheep and Wolf' Orange
Region: Neusiedlersee > Burgenland > Austria
Grapes: 80% Chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon Blanc. 5% Pinot Grigio
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, loess and loam soil, open vat fermentation, skin macerated for 1 month in concrete egg, then aged 1 year in bottle; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no sulfites added, zero zero, 13.5% ABV
Winemaker: Michael Wenzel
Another glorious orange wine from Austria, where the hills are literally alive with the sound of music!
Since 1647, the Wenzel family has worked the land near the town of Rust, on the western side of Lake Neusiedl, in Austria's Burgenland region. They've been pioneers in winemaking in the region -- the first to have a bottling machine, making the radical change of wine for sale in barrels to individual bottles, increasing the wine's value on the market and, in turn, the family's income. The current winemaker, Michael Wenzel made his first official harvest at his family's estate in 1995, and after a few years working in New Zealand, Australia, and California, he returned to take the reins (although his father is still an active part of the process). Michael converted to organic farming in 2008, and over the past decade has noticed the positive effects in the plants and soils, especially that the vines are able to store and draw more water from the soil -- a boon for an area that doesn't get much rainfall during the growing season. He's also making some pretty great natural wine, unique and refreshing for this part of Austria that is still pretty stodgy.
But stodgy is not how anyone would describe this beguiling orange wine, part of Wenzel's super natural series of wines with skin contact and the least intervention, meaning no added So2. Like this mostly-Chardonnay blend that macerates on the skins for one month in concrete egg, of which they make very little. So, we're stoked to get a few cases of this golden elixir, which smells divine, like honey and steamy afternoons. Textured and unctuous, with a kiss of tannins, it tastes like tart, under-ripe nectarine, white flowers, and jasmine tea, and feels very exotic, like you should be drinking it under a Moroccan tent on a sultry summer night.
SERVE CHILLED BUT NOT TOO COLD