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Winery #81: Weingut Hirsch (Kamptal, Austria)

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Our final visit in Austria’s Kamptal wine producing region was at Weingut Hirsch, a family-owned winery dating back to 1878. Daniel, our host for the wine experience, has been working with the winery for ten years and so he had much to share about the history and legacy of the Hirsch family. We learned from our host that the name “Hirsch” means deer in German, which explains the large number of deer decorations in the courtyard, tasting room, and of course, on the wine’s label.

After the winery overview in the wine tasting room, Daniel led us outside to a private table overlooking the family’s seven vineyards on two sizable hills. To help us identify the areas, our host provided us with a handy trifold brochure annotating the family's Rieds or vineyards. Daniel informed us that the Hirsch family conducts its farming in accordance with Biodynamic principles set forth by the Respekt Biodyn organization. While shopping for wine, you may have seen the term “Biodynamic” highlighted on a bottle or maybe a sommelier in a restaurant discussed the term as a point of difference among wines. Well before “organic” became cool, a man named Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) designed a system of organic principles incorporating cosmology (the study of the universe) and philosophy, coordinating farm work with the various cycles of the moon and the planets.

Biodynamic viticulture relies upon preparations that act as fertilizers and organic pesticides rather than chemicals. Some preparations are very interesting like stuffing a large number of hollow cow horns with manure and burying them in the vineyard over the course of the winter season. Who also uses biodynamic viticulture techniques? Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (affectionally known as DRC), one of the most famous wineries in the world, has been Biodynamic since 2008. Admittedly, I when first learned about Biodynamic farming methods, I thought about it as voodoo or mysticism. Though after the past four years of intensive wine study, I feel there is something more to this than just magic and that some methods make sense to promote a balanced, biodiverse, and sustainable growing environment.

During our seated wine experience on the patio overlooking the vines, Daniel poured 13 wines showcasing the Hirsch family’s lineup. Interestingly, the family produces wines from only two types of grapes: Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. The current head of the winery, Johannes Hirsch and his father made the decision to focus exclusively on these wines ten years ago as they felt the region, soil, and climate provides the best expressions of these two grapes. Our favorite from the tasting was the 2020 Ried Lamm 1ÖTW Kammern Grüner Veltliner. Let’s deconstruct the name! The white Grüner Veltliner grapes were harvested in 2020 from the vineyard Ried Lamm located in the wine-growing municipality of Kammern.

This vineyard is ranked among the top 15% of all vineyards in Kamptal by the ÖTW and thus received the designation of Erste Lage or 1ÖTW. Please check out our most recent blog posts from Austria's Kamptal wine region for an in-depth look at the area's wine classification system. We found the wine to have aromas of vanilla and coffee pointing to the oak barrel ageing process. Additionally, the wine showed great body due to ageing the wine on its lees.

The wine's body is how it feels in your mouth and can easily be compared to milk. A full-bodied wine has the creaminess and texture similar to whole milk or cream. A medium-bodied wine is like milk with 2% milk-fat, while a light-bodied wine is like skim milk. What can influence this? For the 2020 Grüner Veltliner, the winemaker let the wine rest on its lees, a layer of sentiment that falls to the bottom of the barrel or tank during the ageing process consisting of dead yeast and bacteria, other nutrients, and pieces of grapes. Without going too wine-nerd, the layer of lees releases compounds that increases the body of the wine over time. So next time you hear someone talk about a wine’s body or lees ageing (or read about it in an amazing wine blog like 500 Wineries) hopefully this will help!

Check out the YouTube Video of our experience here!

Experience Rating: 3 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 1 Paw Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Formal Seated Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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