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Lenz Moser: Mr Grüner Veltliner

Lenz Moser (pictured above) is a man who is devoted to just a single grape variety: Grüner Veltliner. I guess it’s not a bad variety to be linked with. Unique (more or less - there's a tiny bit grown elsewhere) to Austria, it is responsible for a variety of wine styles, from crisp and fruity to richer and more serious, with a common signature of white pepper spiciness. I like it a lot.

The name Lenz Moser is still associated with what was his family company (he’s Lenz Moser V), but this was sold off during the financial crisis for Austrian wine of the mid-1980s, and he no longer has any connection with the wines carrying his name. He had worked for the family firm for 15 years, with 11 years as general manager, a position he assumed when he was just 30. After the sell-off, he needed a new focus, and this is what he got.

The Mosers had been friends with the Mondavis for a while, and Mike Mondavi called him to ask him to head up operations in Europe, to try to do a better job than had previously been done from the USA. Lenz worked for the Mondavis for 8 years, and reckons he would have still been there now if it hadn’t been for the sale of Mondavi a couple of years back.

Once again, he was at a junction. What next? In fact, he’d already decided to make Grüner Veltliner again a few years back. ‘I had a walk on the beach with my daughter Sophie’, he recalls, ‘and we talked for two hours’. She was just 11 then; now she’s 16. ‘We developed a common vision for the rest of my life: she said she wanted to run a winery with me’. Now Sophie’s twin sister Anna also wants to be involved. It looks like the Moser family business will carry on.

So with the name Lenz Moser taken, the new project was dubbed ‘Laurenz V’, and of the 5000 people who bottle their own wine in Austria, Lenz thinks this is the only one to focus exclusively on Grüner Veltliner. ‘Based on 25 years experience in the marketplace, we wanted to create an international style of Grüner Veltliner’, says Lenz. He points out that in Austria it is frequently super-peppery and dry; he’s aimed at rounding the edges while retaining authenticity. ‘Grüner Veltliner should be something joyful and not too complicated’, he says.

The target group for the Laurenz V wines is predominantly female. ‘70% of all wine purchased in Europe is by women’, Lenz points out. Hence the packaging, which is very stylish (although the obligtory red and white Austrian symbol on top of the capsule clashes a bit).  He works with two winemakers, Ernest Grossauer and Fred Loimer, buying grapes from a range of growers. In the first year 9000 cases were made, a figure that jumped to 36 000 cases for the subsequent (and current) vintage.

Ever the marketeer, Lenz talks about his target markets. For premium wines (retailing at £6+), the USA is the largest with 80 million cases. 2nd biggest with 33 million cases is Switzerland, and the third biggest with 22 million is the UK. 80% of worldwide consumption of wine is in Europe, 2% is in Asia and 18% is in the USA. He has identified 12 key markets for his wines, with Gemany, USA, UK and Austria at the top of the list. He has a hitlist of 900 restaurants and hotels in Austria where he wants his wines listed, and he’s well on the way to achieving this goal.

So, to the wines. They’re reassuringly very good: distinctively Grüner Veltliner, but with a broad appeal.

L Sophie Friendly Grüner Veltliner 2005
Named after Sophie, this is rounded, rich and full with some melony fruit and a touch of spice. Transparent and rich at the same time, this is a lovely drinkable wine. Very good+ 89/100

Laurenz V Charming Grüner Veltliner 2005
Quite dense, clean and fresh with persistent spicy flavours. Smooth, but there’s more minerality here than with the Friendly wine. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent 90/100

Laurenz und Sophie Singing Grüner Veltliner 2005
Fresh, bright and quite zingy with good acidity. This is a very fresh style with a hint of pepperines to it. More edge to it than the Friendly wine. Very good+ 88/100 (Tesco £6.99)

The wines are represented in the UK by www.bibendum-wine.co.uk 

see also: series on Austrian wine

Wines tasted 10/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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