“Roland remains an innovator of the Burgenland and is a colour-bearer of the region’s most authentic expressions on planet wine,” wrote Wine Advocate‘s Stephan Reinhardt of the charismatic, enigmatic man behind Moric. “If there was no Roland Velich, the Burgenland would not have been known as a potential world-class red-wine region. It still isn’t widely known but more and more wine nerds on planet wine discover the Pannonian virtues thanks to Moric’s terrific Blaufränkisch wines…”
It’s a timely reminder of the importance of this character in promoting the greatness of this Austrian red-wine heartland. The Blaufränkisch offerings run deep (and incredibly long) with a regional expression, a reserve rendition from the best sites and a single-origin wine from the great Lutzmannsburg vineyard. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s the Jagini joint venture with Hannes Schuster.
The joys here go beyond Blaufränkisch grape, of course. These limestone-rich soils do wonders with Grüner Veltliner, too, which reaches its Pannonian zenith with Roland’s Serious Wine from a Gorgeous Place.
And Roland’s influence doesn’t stop there; his Hidden Treasures project sees him team up with Hungarian winemakers Tamas Kis and Villa Tolnay for Furmint blends from Somló and Balaton respectively.
All up, that’s one head-spinning trip right there. And you’ll find no better guide than Roland himself.
NEW ARRIVALS – MORIC
Roland Velich’s white blend is based on Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay and a bit of Riesling and Welschriesling from the Leithaberg and the Rust hills.
Based on Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay and a bit of Riesling and Welschriesling from the Leithaberg and the Rust hills, the fresh-coloured 2019 Hausmarke Supernatural opens with a cooler and stonier bouquet than the 2018 and indicates a firm structure and good concentration. On the palate, the silky and yeasty-textured wine is pure, fresh and vivaciously mineral, with lingering salinity and delicate phenolic grip that gives a stimulating kick to the finish. Bottled in May 2020 and tasted in June 2020.91 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
This wine has been produced from 8- to 50-year-old vines from soils of limestone, primary rock, and loam in Lutzmannsburg, Zagersdorf and St Georgen and the Föllig in Wulkapodersdorf. The clarity of this wine is reinforced by its length and structure, which give it balance and ageing-potential. Harvested at a yield of 25 hectolitres per hectare, it is fermented with indigenous yeast over 17 to 21 days in stainless steel and open vats. Natural MLF and élevage in 600-4500 litre casks for 13 months. No fining, filtration or additives, except tiny quantities of sulphites. As a result, all Moric wines are vegan-friendly.
The 2018 Burgenland Blaufränkisch is sourced in Lutzmannsburg, Zagersdorf and St Georgen and the Föllig in Wulkapodersdorf. Its bouquet is deep, pure, intense and spicy as well as refined and fresh in its dark cherry and berry aromas intertwined with lavender and violet and even red berry notes. On the palate, this is silky textured, refined and elegant, wonderfully tart and fruity. The finish is pure and fresh with the vital finesse and salty purity of a white Burgundy intertwined with the black, tart blackthorn fruit of a Burgenland Blaufränkisch. The 2018 is clearly limestone-dominated but, luckily, doesn’t hide its fruit. The tannins are fine and fresh and intertwined with the salty purity. A gorgeous red wine.92 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate \
This wine marries the great heritage of Lutzmannsburg, St Georgen and Zagersdorf, and embodies Moric’s concept of reserve-quality: selection in distinct vineyards with specific attributes regarding vine age, site and soil – just the best barrels coming out of these vineyards find their way into the Reserve blend. Mainly based on limestone origins, elegance and distinctive spice weave with earthy floral aromas to show a unity of great structure and finesse.
The 2017 Blaufränkisch Burgenland Moric Reserve is deep, concentrated and very intense on the nevertheless pure, fresh and floral nose that is populated with dark, tart fruit aromas along with floral and peppery notes. Silky textured, finessed and almost light on its feet in the first moment, this is a pure, salty and very fresh and tensioned Blaufränkisch with the texture of a tart Pinot Noir with fine-grained tannins and the saline purity of the terroirs in Lutzmannsburg and St Georgen. Add Zagersdorf and you get a complete, ambitious and terroir-driven blend of Austria’s greatest red wine variety. This 2017 is so pure and tensioned (due to a percentage of whole clusters) that I recommend cellaring it for at least 3-5 years. The finish is almost Chablis-like. Bottled in September 2019 and tasted in June 2020.95 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
From a “spectacularly unspectacular place,” says Roland Velich of Lutzmannsburg, from where a wine of such class and distinction should by rights have arisen. This wine represents a selection made from the oldest vines. The Lutzmannsburger plateau arose on top of a primordial volcano, and here the landscape encompasses a variety of soils: sand, clay and loam, in part lying above limestone subsoils. These confer an incomparably unique expression upon the Blaufränkisch, which manifests Itself ideally in this wine. This wine has been harvested from ten separate parcels, all picked and fermented separately. After ten months élevage in casks, the initial blend is made, upon which the wine enjoys an additional twelve months in the barrel.
60-100+ year old vines. 17 hectolitres per hectare yield. 23-28 days maceration, spontaneous fermentation in open fermenters and wooden vats. 24 months élevage in 500-4000 litre casks. No fining. No filtration. No additives, except tiny quantities of sulphites. As a result of that, all of the Moric wines are vegan.
The 2017 Blaufränkisch Burgenland Lutzmannsburg Alte Reben is deep, intense, fresh and floral on the concentrated and spicy nose that is dominated by dark berry, sour cherry and herbal aromas, with a subtle saline aroma that is a kind of typical for the Moric red wines from limestone, namely from Lutzmannsburg. With time, elderflowers and dark cherry emerge along with notes of pure raw beef, iron, tea, redcurrant and floral notes from lavender and cress blossoms. It is fresh and silky on the palate, with fleshy, concentrated and chewy fruit and an enormous finish that reveals concentration as well as mineral freshness and limestone purity intertwined with ripe and crumbly tannins. This is a fascinating, pure and refreshing wine that will turn out to be one of the greatest in the history of Moric. Bottled in September 2019 and tasted in June 2020.96 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
HIDDEN TREASURES – Hungarian white-wine collaboration
2019 Moric Hidden Treasures No. 2 is a collaboration between Roland Velich and Hungarian winemaker Tamas Kis. It comprises 60% Furmint, 35% Welschriesling and 5% Harslevelü.
Somló is an 832-hectare wine region in Veszprém county, in the northwest of Hungary. The wines of Somló are exclusively white, and this has historically been home to the most highly prized dry-white wines of the Pannonian region. (It is the traditional wedding wine of Habsburg family.) The majority of the vines are grown on four extinct volcanos: Nagy-Somló; Kis-Somló; Sàg; and Herczeg. The grapes grow on pure basalt soil (basalt rock mixed with basaltic sand) from the upper parts of the mountain. They benefit from bottle age but even in youth give a super-mineral and intense wine without any heaviness (less than 12% alcohol).
The vineyard has been cultivated organically since 2014 (though it’s not yet certified). The wine is spontaneously fermented and matured in a mixture of stainless steel and some Hungarian oak.
2019 Moric Hidden Treasures No. 3 is a collaboration with Hungarian winemaker Villa Tolnay. It comprises 50% Furmint and 50% Riesling grown on the volcanic hills around Lake Balaton, which feature basalt at the top of the slope and limestone lower down. Furmint might be considered as the Pannonian equivalent to Riesling with its wonderful acidity, fine floral and fruity aromas and great aging potential.
This is a wine that on one hand shows interesting, high-toned aromatics, but develops a completely independent characteristic over time. On the nose it’s very appealing – crystal clear and fragrant. There are floral notes with pure white and yellow stone fruits, plus a faint herbal hint in the background. In the mouth it has intense fruit with beautifully balanced acidity and a great attack of minerality. Precise and elegant, it also has even darker, salty aromas and very good length. It’s vibrant and seductive with a very clear and distinct message of the place where it’s grown. This is our greatest success so far at Lake Balaton! – Roland Velich, Moric
JAGINI – Burgenland collaboration with Hannes Schuster
Jagini is a joint venture between Hannes Schuster and Roland Velich of Moric. They own and farm roughly 4 hectares of old vineyards (vines aged 50 to 95 years old) on dense clay with limestone. Some of these are very densely planted (up to 8,000 vines per hectare).
The 2013 Zagersdorf Jagini is from 60- to 85-year-old vines on dense clay soils that give the wines an intense reduction. That’s why Roland Velich and Hannes Schuster give the wine five years in used 1,500- and 1,600-liter barrels and 10-year-old 500-liter barrels. It is deep, ripe and intense on the fruit-driven yet pure and elegant nose, with graphite, black tea and peppery notes. This is a full-bodied, lush and silky-textured Blaufränkisch with fine tannins, good intensity and well-harnessed power. A promising red that I tasted as a barrel sample in August 2018 and from the just-filled bottle in October 2018. The 2013 will be released in spring 2019. 93 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate December 2018
2018 Serious Wine from a Gorgeous Place is another stunning Grüner Veltliner from the limestone-rich soils of St Georgen in Burgenland.
There was no 2017 of Velich’s St Georgen Veltliner (which went into the Hausmarke in the end), so I tasted the 2018 Serious Wine from a Gorgeous Place. It offers a clear, pure, rich and complex nose with herbal, floral and spicy, coolish terroir aromas and notes of crushed stones. The fruit intensity emerges only after a longer while of aeration. On the palate, this is a full-bodied, rich and intense, well-concentrated and tightly structured Veltliner from the coolish, forest-surrounded limestone vineyards of St Georgen. The finish is fresh and reveals seriously fine and mealy tannins and lingering salinity. Tasted in June 2020.92 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
The most focused, pure and mineral of Moric’s three whites from this vintage comes from the limestone soils of Sankt Georgen. It has a lemon peel aspect to it, as well. Nice driven acidity through the palate that allows the wine to push through to some very good, citrus-flavoured length.
The golden-yellow 2013 Sankt Georgen Grüner Veltliner is clear and precise on the intense, concentrated nose, which represents a mix of nutty, chalky, slightly caramelly and floral/herbal aromas intermixed with lemon and chamomile notes. Pretty rich, intense and powerful but also pure and elegant on the palate, with lingering salinity and a tightly woven structure, concentrated lemon flavours and firm acidity, this is a highly complex and very persistent Grüner Veltliner from St Georgen’s chalky soils. The finish is tight yet very long and provided with fine tannins and a chalky minerality. Probably the best Sankt Georgener I have tasted from Roland Velich thus far. Tasted December 2017.93 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
A blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Merlot and Pinot Noir which is supposed to be playful, but as always with Roland Velich of Moric, it doesn’t lack depth or gravitas.
Cherries, smoke and peat, spice, dried flowers. Medium-bodied, fleshy with fine silty tannin, smoky cherry and raspberry flavour, a gentle sourness and tang to the acidity, and a ripe finish of fine length. Intellectual fun times here, and I’d say that’s more PC than suggesting ‘sexy librarian’. Well, anyway, stamp my card.92 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
The oldest vines were planted in 1928 and the youngest in the ’60s. The vines grow among nine parcels, on 80% slate and 20% limestone. The grapes are harvested separately, then fermented and elaborated for 11 months in casks. After this, an initial blend is made from the individual lots, which then enjoys a further thirteen months in oak.
Very dark-coloured the 2011 Blaufränkisch Neckenmarkter Alte Reben starts somewhat untamed and reductive on the floral nose, but very concentrated and intense, with lime and crushed slate aromas giving it a purity that is rare in the warm 2011 vintage, when it was “important not to pick too overripe” (Roland Velich). With more time on the air, the wine reveals black and red currant aromas, wild black and blue berries along with juniper and leafy flavours. Also dried blossoms here and a coolish vein like in the famous 2006. The attack on the palate is quite smooth, revealing ripe and concentrated dark berry aromas (cassis, blue and black berries) along with heathy flavours, but it is also fresh and silky with lingering saltiness. The tannins are firm and structured, but absolutely fine and ripe. Its a great union of ripe tannins, a crystalline acidity and the salty/mineral taste of wet stones with the ripe and intense fruit giving the sex appeal. Very long and fresh, very stable, A great, big and massive wine again, but not heavy at all.95 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate