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Extended tasting note 14
Muhr–van der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2004 Carnuntum, Austria

This is a really interesting wine that was consumed in two sittings. It’s a Blaufrankisch from the relatively untrendy Austrian region of Carnuntum, but what sets it apart is that it’s made by husband and wife team Dorli Muhr (who heads Austrian PR firm Wine & Partners) and Dirk Niepoort (the famed wine grower from Portugal’s Douro). For the first sitting, I had this wine with Dirk and Dorli at Comptoir Gascon the night before the New Douro 2004 tasting in May 2006. I took the remaining half-bottle or so home with me that night and tried it again the next day in more controlled conditions.

Dirk explains that this was made ‘with a strong focus on not giving a shit about the colour’. He adds that ‘80% of winemaking decisions are usually based on colour’. Half of the wine was made in a similar way to the way he makes his Douro wine Charme, which is by fermenting whole bunches with the stems, and then pressing off at just the right time to get the extraction right. Timing is everything. The other half is made with an extended maceration on the skins of three months.

The two lots have combined well to create a smooth, focused red that’s quite elegant, showing dark fruits and a chocolatey richness. The palate is smooth with elegant tannins and a nice freshness to the fruit. Stylistically it's hard not to draw some sort of comparison with Pinot Noir and Burgundy.

The next day I revisit the wine. It has picked up some structure. It has a smooth, dark cherry and spice nose with a fine dusty spiciness in the background—could this be from the stems? The palate is smooth with lovely purity of fruit and some fine, spicy tannins. There’s lovely serious structure here but it is never awkward: a really fine effort that has the potential to develop really well. Very good/excellent 93/100

Austrian retail price is around €30, which is very fair for the quality.

Other ETNs:
; Roc des Anges; Gaillard; Veratina; Arturo; Wynns; Drystone; Foundry and Columella; Meruge; Foillard Morgon; Clonakilla; Latour 1934; Thevenet Bongran

see also: Austrian wines

tasted 05/06

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