Jutta Ambrotisch Revision 2018
Complex & delicious by one of Austria’s vanguard women. Jutta Ambrositsch was born in Südburgenland, best-known for stunning Blaufränkisch, about 2.5 hours south of Vienna. She moved to the city to pursue her career as a graphic design artist, but eventually decided that she needed a change. So, in 2004, she left behind her design career (although she does create her stylish labels) swapping an office job for a career in nature and started a special wine project in the city with only 650L of wine. Now, she spends most of her days in the vineyards; with winemaking, she has been able to find a perfect balance of city living and getting her hands in the dirt. She manages the business with her husband, Marco Kalkbrenner, who takes care of the administration, poetic wine descriptions, and logistics, while Jutta manages the vineyard and cellar work. Vienna has the most vineyards planted of any city in the world: today, there are fifty growers managing 650 total hectares (of those fifty, only twenty are full-time winemakers, earning their living from the wine they make). The vineyards are on hillsides at the city limits, on either side of the Danube over-looking the city center. The surrounding vineyards provide a mini-escape from the bustling center and there is a long tradition of residents going to the hillsides to have a glass of wine and snacks at a Heurigen or Buschenschank overlooking the city. Heurigen could roughly be translated as a wine bar. Buschenschank is similar, but they are only allowed to sell products that are made in-house, wine included. Ambrositsch started her own Buschenschank in 2006. Today, Ambrositsch farms a total of four hectares —three on the right side of the Danube and one hectare on the left bank— in ten different parcels. Each vineyard is unique, with a distinctive terroir and microclimate. She farms each organically, but does not have certification. Ambrositsch says that the biggest threat to the vineyards is hail and white boars that live in the surrounding forests and using conventional products will not help against either! The specialty of Vienna is the Gemischter Satz, which is a wine that is co-fermented with many different traditional varieties. The particularity of this style of wine is that all the grapes must be picked and crushed on the same day, and must also be co-fermented. It sounds simple enough, but the different varieties ripen at different rates and it’s quite a skill to decide the exact day when the ripeness and acidity will be a delicious balance amongst all the varieties. While Jutta and Marco care very much about making traditional Viennese wine, they recently decided that they would not be a part of the newly established Vienna DAC. There are multiple reasons; one is that they don’t want to decide when to pick because they need a certain level of alcohol. In addition, with Gemischter Satz currently going through a renaissance in Austria, the rule dictating that the varieties being co-planted has been changed: now you can have three different parcels, all planted to a single variety; as long as you pick and crush all of the fruit on the same day, it can still be called Gemischter Satz. Ambrositch feels that this undermines what makes Gemischter Satz unique: a single terroir, co-planted with many different varieties, which are picked and pressed together. The Ambrositsch wines are all micro-cuvées and they are a delightful way to discover Vienna terroir through the lens of a young and fun artist.While her winemaking style could be called “natural”, with no additions of yeasts, enzymes, or sugar, and only a minimum amount of sulfur, very few of the wines show any of the funky qualities of many wines that share the moniker. Most are made in stainless steel. Are they renegades? No: rock and roll is a more fitting description. In addition to the traditional wines, including three Gemischter Satz bottlings, they make some playful cuvées, like the Roter (red) Gemischter Satz, with its piquant cherry fruit and cloudy bright ruby color. Even their Gemischter Satz shows a rebellious streak in that it is made without additions, which gives a lot of vibrancy and juicy flavors. As Ambrositsch has chosen to not be in the DAC, they cannot use the vineyard names on the label, but this wine comes from one of their prized vineyards, the Reisenberg. It was planted all to Gruner Veltliner in the 1960’s. Ambrositsch described the soil as creamy and stinky, mainly with slate and gneiss. The vines are planted quite spaced out and they only make a maximum of 1,000 bottles per year. The wine is structured and rich, a beautiful gruner from 50+ year-old vines.