Bernhard Ott is a man who exudes bonhomie and a certain irrepressible air of good living, but this only briefly serves to conceal a shrewd and very determined operator, one who has turned his family business into the source of some of the most immediately recognisable incarnations of Austria’s all-defeating Gruner Veltliner variety. ‘Come in’ he said upon our recent arrival, ‘we will have lunch. I have’ he continued, ‘a cook. Every day she prepares lunch for all of the employees of the firm, and everyone sits down together and eats. And in keeping with the philosophy of the company, all of the food is organic.’ We were shown to a table in the tasting room, and served cream of cauliflower soup followed by thick-slices of braised ham, lentils and slabs of dumpling, the heartiest of traditional peasant food, and with it we tasted through his strikingly green, wonderfully pure, aromatic 2016 Gruners, delicious wines marked by a fine mineral intensity combined with a degree of richness derived from the organic and biodynamic husbandry of the vines. After lunch we tasted the 2017s, some just bottled (the bottling of the market-leading ‘Am Berg’ was taking place during our visit). He explained that biodynamic viticulture has pulled his harvest date quite dramatically forward. ‘When I first took over, I would always harvest after my neighbours. Now I harvest four weeks before them.’ The musts are given a period of skin contact. ‘I am looking for mouthfeel, complexity and richness without getting extract, weight or alcohol.’ 95% of the production here is of Gruner Veltliner, most of the rest Riesling. There is arguably a degree of atypicity in the wines, a note of apparent richness that belies the fact that they are bone dry, with rarely more than 1 degree of residual sugar except in the Der Ott, which can extend to a still very modest 2-3 degrees, but one feels that he is sensitive to it, keen to know what you think, and worried that you might not approve. He need not fear. I was delighted to find a bottle of Am Berg in an excellent restaurant in Stockholm last year, and the table lapped it up. Bright, mineral, lifted, with a note of citrus, a gentle mid-palate, and fine persistence, it acts as a perfect ambassador to the food-friendliness of the Gruner variety. Fass 4, from older, better situated parcels is still brighter, more intense, beautifully balanced, dry and elegant, tighter and more concise than Am Berg, whilst Der Ott, which comes from a single parcel of 10-30 year old vines, is bright and crisp, with notable focus and precision.
BERNHARD OTT Wagram
|2017||GRÜNER VELTLINER Am Berg||15.95||14.65|
|2016||GRÜNER VELTLINER Fass 4||18.95||17.95|
|2014||GRÜNER VELTLINER Der Ott||26.95||24.95|
|2016||GRÜNER VELTLINER Ried Spiegel||35.95||33.25|