Day 21: Claus Preisinger and The View From Up Here
Cherries and Clay has fast (in the past month, amazing how many people i have found doing this) become one of my favorite blogs. Comprised of two similiarly minded Vancouverites (sp?) who sell wine and are a part of the new generation of consumers who give a shit what they are drinking. Enjoy!
Why we care:
Purchasing and enjoying a product that is made by someone you can put a name and a face to is incredibly meaningful and something everyone has spent too long moving away from. When we can say that this wine is made by Rob Van Westen from grapes he’s grown on a 12 ha plot of land that he farms himself, to us that is invaluable and gives us pride in what we’re drinking. In farming grapes, or anything else for that matter, the more love and care (and methods that reflect this love) that you put into the fruit and wine, the better it will be. The more synthetic chemicals and velcorin you unnecessarily cover the fruit with and dump into the vat when it’s a substitute for time or hard work, the less love there is. When a producer grows grapes following a list of criteria so he can print the word “organic” on the bottle (or carton), this isn’t the same as the farmer pouring his heart into his passion.
Will the naturally produced wines be consistent vintage to vintage, taste squeaky clean, be in unlimited supply, and cost less than $10 a bottle? Probably not. Will the wines always be remarkable? No, in fact sometimes they’ll be be faulted and putrid. Will the wine have personality? Always, and when put in the hands of a talented and passionate vigneron, they can be profound.
Many consumers couldn’t care less that the same bottle of wine they blindly buy every time they shuffle into a liquor store is made on a grand scale in a tankfarm by people with no other goal than providing an acceptable beverage, and many never will. We’re not elitist about it. We don’t drink natural wine everyday – very few people do. But, we do relish in telling the stories and encouraging people to taste the wines we love, hoping they’ll find some value in them as well. On the plus side, posts like “31 Days of Natural Wine” and the number of people involved in contributing their stories prove that there is a healthy and growing community of wine lovers that are passionate about natural wines.
Claus Preisinger lives in Gols, a small town in the Burgenland region of Northeast Austria. He’s a young biodynamic farmer and winemaker who grew up learning about vineyard work from his old man, Lorenz. He’s a member of Pannobile, a small group of producers from Gols who push eachother to raise the quality bar as a whole. They also offer a beautiful-looking mixed box set of their wines each vintage called the Black Box. He’s extremely dedicated in the vineyards and makes delicious, yet accessibly priced wines.
Disclosure: Before we get started here, it should be said that while the wines of Claus Preisinger are fantastic, naturally made and quite noble – the packaging is so damn sharp that we’d probably buy the stuff even if it were harvested and made by evil robots and was loaded with arsenic and bleach. Seriously. Just behold those labels and be awed by their presence and grace.
OK, now that that’s out in the open, let’s get down to business.
Claus Preisinger ’06 Heideboden White (Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) with a splash of Chardonnay)
The nose brings butterscotch, spice, and unprocessed apple juice notes with a stoney minerality. A rich palate reminiscent of baked apple cinnamon pie complete with caramel and vanilla characters. Honeyed pears (slight botrytis character?) Good acidity throughout with a nice lingering and evolving length. Great charisma and pretty damn good Pinot Blanc. This is the kind of wine we could easily sit and drink a bottle of, with or without food.
Claus Preisinger ’06 Heideboden Red (Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, and a little Merlot)
We were downright smitten with this one. The nose had some black cherries with a pinch of nutmeg. Those notes continued on the palate with some great plumminess (Yeah that’s right, Spell Check, we said “plumminess”!), dark chocolate and cloves. Further tasting revealed fresh tobacco, cinnamon, blueberries and currants.
The thing kept going. Black olive, butterscotch and even some peat-y notes were unveiled. One of those wines where you keep finding new things each time you go back to the glass. Bright, juicy and drinkable enough to bring along to a summer barbecue, yet sturdy and mature enough if you wanted to treat it to a fancy dinner. Yum.
What’s Happening in British Columbia:
We are fortunate to be living in Vancouver where there is definitely a growing movement toward wanting to know specifically what’s in your glass and on your plate, along with where it comes from and so on. We’re the home of Greenpeace, The 100-Mile Diet and so on. It’s in our make-up to be both concerned and aware of what we consume on a day-to-day basis. Oddly enough, it was a Chicago expat who brought us Farmstead Wines (Preisinger’s importer), a company that specializes in these styles of wines from small family farms across Europe, heightening local awareness of the elements and importance of natural wines.
In the Okanagan, our local wine region, there’s ever-increasing examples of wineries who are leading the charge in letting the grapes speak for themselves and their soil. Van Westen, as mentioned earlier, plus JoieFarm (hella-delicious aromatic whites), Fairview Cellars (dark, brooding, chocolatey reds), Blue Mountain (local legends who specialize in elegant Pinots) and more. We’re even starting to see some success in biodynamic farming from Dunham & Froese. These are also among our most popular independent wineries, which goes to show that the general public are, as the kids say, pickin’ up what they’re layin’ down.
While we admit that we don’t always buy wines due to the natural elements listed on their labels (Organic! Sustainable! Bio-Dynamic! Natural! Hand-Picked By Virgins!), we certainly are doing it way more than we used to.
It seems we’re all heading in the right direction.
Follow day by day here: https://saignee.wordpress.com/31-days-of-natural-wine/
Up next: Frank Cornellisen makes some interesting wine; or: Probably not your grandparents sicilian wine.