• How Schloss Gobelsburg staged a remarkable 850 year tasting

    To celebrate 850 years of winemaking, Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg hosted an historical tasting in London with a focus on its single vineyard Ried Heiligenstein, tasting vintages as far back as 1971. Journalist and winemaker Chris Wilson attended for The Buyer and writes tasting notes on every vintage, as well as hears from winemaker Michael Moosbrugger what makes this site one of Austria’s most revered terraces. Taking over viticultural duties in 1996 from the Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl, which still owns the estate, Wilson says there is a noticeable uplift in quality from that date. Just don’t let the monks hear you saying that…

    To celebrate 850 years of winemaking, Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg hosted an historical tasting in London with a focus on its single vineyard Ried Heiligenstein, tasting vintages as far back as 1971. Journalist and winemaker Chris Wilson attended for The Buyer and writes tasting notes on every vintage, as well as hears from winemaker Michael Moosbrugger what makes this site one of Austria’s most revered terraces. Taking over viticultural duties in 1996 from the Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl, which still owns the estate, Wilson says there is a noticeable uplift in quality from that date. Just don’t let the monks hear you saying that…

    mm By November 9, 2021

    “You don’t want a gang of angry monks banging on your door,” Michael Moosbrugger jokes.

    Kamptal’s Ried Heiligenstein vineyard is one of Austria’s renowned Riesling terraces. From here come some of the country’s greatest and most age-worthy white wines.

    It comprises south-facing terraces of red/brown sandstone and feldspar and has been classified as one of the region’s Erste Lagen (Premiers Crus) sites since 2010. Around 50 producers share its 31 hectares, including Schloss Gobelsburg which this year celebrates a remarkable 850 years of winemaking.

    The Zobinger Perm on which the Ried Heiligenstein is located

    The Gobelsburg estate belongs to the nearby Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl, and has been worked since 1996 by Michael Moosbrugger and his family. To celebrate 850 vintages Moosbrugger travelled to London in October to present a Ried Heiligenstein vertical, showcasing 20 Schloss Gobelsburg Rieslings spanning five decades from 1971 to 2019.

    The eloquent and modest Moosbrugger was thrilled to present a tasting of this scale outside of Austria and gave us a potted history of the estate before we got to grips with the wines. He explained that monks planted the first vineyards on the land in 1171 and that each wine has a true monastic heritage with monks visiting the winery every November to bless the vintage.

    Gobelsburg has two separate plots on the Ried Heiligenstein vineyard, both on the lower half of the mountain. The fruit from both plots come together to make the Heiligenstein wines. “I could not say one is better than the other, which is why we do not make two different wines from the two plots,” says Moosbrugger.

    Michael Moosbrugger
    Michael Moosbrugger at the historic Schloss Gobelsburg tasting

    Tasting the wines it’s clear that there has been an uplift in quality and a change in winemaking style since the mid-1990s when Moosbrugger took the helm. He says that many of the previous winemakers were monks on the estate so is careful not to criticise wines made before he joined.

    “You don’t want a gang of angry monks banging on your door,” he jokes, but in all seriousness there’s a marked difference from 1996 onwards.

    Judging the wines side-by-side there’s a real purple patch in the late 1990s; the ‘97, ‘98 and ‘99 wines were incredible. A spectacular trio. Some of the more recent vintages – particularly the 2016 and 2010 – show real promise and will certainly age well over the next 5-15 years.

    The 80s wines were patchy and unbalanced in comparison, the 70s wines tired and past their best.

    It was a real pleasure to taste these old vintages, however, and piece together the story of this famous wine estate and the revered Ried Heiligenstein site.

    The Wines…

    Schloss Gobelsburg

    2010s

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2019

    Balanced and light-footed with sweet tropical fruit. Still young with lively, bristling acidity.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2016

    Developed nose. Spice, petrol, lanolin. Guava and pear fruit. Lush and long with lemon acidity.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2014

    It was a difficult end to the growing season with botrytis threat. Spice on the nose, confected fruit, muscular body.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2010

    Recieved partial MLF due to high acid juice. Granny Smith apple, Play-Doh, a creaminess on the palate. Lovely long finish, slight bruised apple note.

    2000s

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2009

    Tropical with lychee fruit joined by sweet rolling tobacco, toast and honey. Rich and rewarding.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2008

    Similar to 2009 but higher acidity. Sherbet lemon and a feral rough-around-the-edges feel (in a positive way). Well balanced.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2004

    Small yielding year. Chewy and developed with orange pith, wax and tropical fruit. Classy finish, long and lush.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 2001

    Flinty with a smoky tension. Tree fruit, noticeably lower acid than other ‘00s wines tasted.

    1990s

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1999

    Glorious nose; candy floss, tropical fruit salad, rich. Developed and mature but with a zesty acidity. Honey-flecked finish.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1998

    Great nose again. Less developed than 1999. Waxy mouthfeel like an aged Condrieu. Peachy finish with a green tea note.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1997

    A year of frost damage resulting in the estate’s lowest yield historically. However… this is a joy; bright, perfumed, aromatic, punchy, rich and long.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1992

    Hottest summer since 1911. Savoury with a sesame note. Fruit replaced with age and less acid throughout.

    1980s

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1987

    Unbalanced. Acid overshadowing the fruit. An air of tropical fruit, akin to ‘Um Bongo’ fruit drink.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1983

    A little weak, but some decent smoke and savoury notes. Peach tea finish.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1983 Spätlese

    Richer and more harmonious. A real bite of acidity. Treacle/molasses richness and intensity.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1982

    Biggest harvest ever in Austria. Woody, almost cheesy. No real presence of fruit; it’s all tertiary and savoury.

    1970s

    Schloss Gobelsburg

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1979

    Feral, chewy, woody. A bit knackered.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1974

    Unbalanced. Some sweetness of fruit (pineapple) which is welcome after the 1980s wines.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1973

    Wood, oxygen, wax, bruised tree fruit.

    Ried Heiligenstein 1ÖTW Erste Lage Kamptal 1971

    Dusty and developed. Cider apple nose and palate. A little slice of history in a glass and charming despite its age and associated flaws.

     

    The wines of Schloss Gobelsburg are imported and sold in the UK by Clark Foyster Wines. 

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *