wines of Muhr-van der Niepoort, Carnuntum, Austria
Elegant expressions of Blaufränkisch from Dirk and Dorli
is a lesser-known Austrian wine region, east of Vienna, and this is
where the Muhr-van der Niepoort winery is based. It is a partnership
between PR queen Dorli Muhr and Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort.
Until recently, the two were married, but they sadly parted ways a
few years back, although their winemaking collaboration is ongoing.
I'm reviewing the top two wines: Spitzerberg comes from a single,
old vine Blaufränkisch vineyard, and Carnuntum is made with younger
In addition, a white wine (Prellenkirchen),
a Bordeaux blend (Rote Erde) and a monovarietal Syrah are also made
you’d expect from a wine where Dirk Niepoort is involved, the
emphasis is on elegance rather than power. There is some foot
treading, which gives softer extraction, and some stems are used.
‘Dirk comes over to Austria two to three times a year to
taste the wines,’ says Dorli, ‘and he is the one who eventually
decides about the blends.’
‘I did the
winemaking on my own in 2006 and 2007, but soon I realised that it
is too much,’ she says. [Dorli runs Austria’s leading wine PR
agency and has a young daughter.] ‘So I was looking for a person
to look after winemaking. And a fantastic guy came over from South
Africa.’ This was Craig Hawkins, who Dorli describes as ‘an
angel’. Craig used to work for Eben Sadie, and is now the
winemaker at Lammershoek in the Swartland.
‘It is kind of
a luxury to have a full time winemaker for only 20 000 bottles, even
if it is only for 3 months,’ says Dorli. ‘But thanks to the time
he has, he really help us achieve our dreams. So, for example, in
2009 we did not use the pump at all for the whole time. Everything
is made either by hand or by foot. And we have a small basket press.
Our "winery" is very archaic. Everything is very basic.’
But the results are wonderful.
Carnuntum 14,50 Euros; Spitzerberg 33 Euros.
der Niepoort Carnuntum 2007
13% alcohol. Lovely bright elegant cherry and herb fruit with
real precision and very well managed tannins. Quite primary with
sweet focused red fruits and real elegance. Fresh and quite serious,
but there's just a hint of cork taint to this wine so I can't score
der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2007
12.5% alcohol. Quite a beautiful aromatic nose, similar to the
Carnuntum with its fresh bright cherry fruit, but there's more depth
here, with subtle hints of tar and herbs and some sweet plum fruit.
The palate has a lovely elegance and an amazing firm but silky
structure. There’s a wonderful combination of fresh acidity and
firm structure, with some floral characters emerging after a while.
It’s like a combination of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo – a
beautifully subtle but powerful wine that’s so fresh and bright.
der Niepoort Carnuntum 2006
13% alcohol. Taut nose of cherries, spice, herbs and tar. There’s
some robust tarry, spicy, savoury structure under the fruit on the
palate. Nice fruit, but also a strongly savoury dimension, and this
is going through a slightly difficult phase at the moment. After two
days it is still quite firm and together. 92/100
der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2006
13%. This is beautiful. Real elegance to the sweet, pure dark
cherry fruit nose with some subtle, spicy, earthy notes. The palate
is supple, rounded and elegant with sweet cherry and berry fruit,
smooth texture and some resolved silky tannins. A beautifully
expressive wine with haunting elegance. Still quite tannic so should
develop well over the next decade. 94/100
der Niepoort Carnuntum 2005
Very sweet, complex nose with notes of coffee, tar, herbs and
cherry fruit. The palate is elegant, sweet and earthy with some
evolved complexity as well as bright berry and cherry fruit. There’s
real spicy interest here: a thought-provoking wine where the pure,
sweet elegant fruit is joined by some tertiary notes. Probably
peaking soon, this is elegant and delicious, and holds up well after
being open for three days. 92/100
der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2005
13% alcohol. Again, showing a little bit of evolution. The sweet
pure cherry fruit is joined by taut spice and herb notes as well as
a hint of tar. The palate is medium-bodied: light and expressive
with dark cherry fruit as well as some structure. There are savoury
notes of tea and herbs complementing the sweet fruit. The overall
picture is one of elegance, but it is still quite structured and I
suspect this has some distance to go. 93/100
review of the 2004 Spitzerberg
wines: visiting Austria's wine regions (series)
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