CellarHand is fortunate to work with three absolute superstars of the Burgenland region.
This area is traditionally known as Austria’s red-wine heartland, with Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and Sankt Laurent reaching their zenith here.
Gerhard Pittnauer, Hannes Schuster and Roland Velich of Moric resoundingly illustrate why – but their creativity and prowess goes way beyond even this.
All three of these producers appeared in a recent Wine Advocate article entitled Great Terroir Wines from the Outlaws.
Here, though, we’re going to focus on just one: Hannes Schuster.
This is what Wine Advocate’s Stephan Reinhardt said about this humble genius:
“Hannes Schuster, whose family estate in Zagersdorf is still named after his mother Rosi, is a quiet, top winemaker in Burgenland. Not a star (to call him one would make him blanch with fright or blush with shame), but someone who sees himself more and more in the shadow of the region’s louder heroes and to whom he, still, looks up, even if he does many things differently and damn well. He himself would never see it that way and even finds it difficult to acknowledge the exceptional class of his wines. The fact that they taste good is enough for him; he would never make any further claims. One can also assume that he does not care that much, as long as he sells his wines and likes to drink them himself.
“But of course, Hannes is ambitious. Otherwise, his wines would not have become better and better every single year.
“At present, Hannes cultivates 14 hectares of vines, of which one hectare of young Furmint vines is not yet in production. Seventy-five percent of his wines are red. Blaufränkisch is also number one here and takes up two-thirds of the red-wine area, 30% are Sankt Laurent and 5% Zweigelt, which Hannes Schuster calls by its old name, Rotburger. Among the whites, Grüner Veltliner, Furmint, Pinot Blanc and Welschriesling take the best seats.
“Since 2009, the vineyards are cultivated organically, and since 2011, controlled organically. Hannes has never communicated this, because every now and then he has added an old parcel that was not certified organic.
“In the meantime, however, all of his sites, which are located in Zagersdorf, Sankt Margarethen, Müllendorf, Donnerskirchen and Deutsch-Schützen, are mostly on either clay or calcareous soils but also slate and gneiss.”
A blend of Grüner Veltliner 60% and mixed plantings. Aged in big oak barrels and stainless steel tank. “This wine is for me a bit more precise than the previous vintages,” says Hannes. “2018 was warm with a super early start of the harvest but there is enough freshness which comes from the soils of limestone and gneiss.”
Schuster’s 2018 Aus den Dörfern Grüner Veltliner / Gemischter Satz is from the plateau and from east- and north-facing sites in Schützen, Osslip and Sankt Margarethen, so a wide range of soils from slate and gneiss to limestone and clay. It opens with a very clear, intense and characterful nose with ripe, concentrated and elegant fruit intermixed with herbal aromas. It was vinified two-thirds in oak barrels and one-third in stainless steel and bottled in 2019. This is a full-bodied, intense and juicy wine with sweet (two grams per liter) and intense Pannonian fruit, serious structure and a long finish. This is another beautiful white from Hannes Schuster that has a warm and intense but structured character. 13% alcohol. Tasted in June 2020.92 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
“It’s a blend of mainly Rotburger with Blaufränkisch and Sankt Laurent. Easy and fruity like a Rotburger, with the backbone of Blaufränkisch and the lightness of Sankt Laurent. You can serve it a bit chilled.” – Hannes Schuster
Dark cherry, sweet spices, some liquorice and dried roses. Medium-bodied, damp earth, juniper and dried herb, tangy blackberry, firm glassy acidity and Turkish coffee tannin, game meat and blood plum on a finish of good length.91 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
The 2019 Aus den Dörfern Red is from young Blaufränkisch, Sankt Laurent and Rotburger (a.k.a. Zweigelt) vines and opens with classic aromatic Austrian fruit. Partly vinified in stainless steel (Zweigelt) until June this year, this is a juicy, aromatic and refreshing red with fine grip and a well-structured, salty and crisp finish. There are delicate chocolate notes on the finish along with notes of dark berries and cherries. Fresh and elegant. For your daily diversion. Un vin de plaisir. Tasted in June 2020.90 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
The Sankt Laurent grapes grow on vines aged between 11 and 31 years old growing on the hillsides (120-180m) of Sankt Margarethen, Zagersdorf, Oslip and Donnerskirchen. The soils feature sand, limestone, loam and slate. The fruit is handpicked and undergoes fermentation with indigenous yeasts. The wine matures in large wooden barrels for 10 months.
The 2018 Burgenland Sankt Laurent is clear, intense and spicy on the nose that is beautifully pure and fresh, with spicy concentration. On the palate, this is a juicy, round, fresh, charmingly sweet and slightly licoricey red with elegance and so much charm. It is made from grapes sourced between Donnerskirchen, Osslip, St Margarethen, Zagerdorf and Rust, fermented together (with 20% whole clusters) and aged in 500- to 2,000-liter vats. 11.5% alcohol. Tasted in June 2020.92 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
The vineyards for this are in Sankt Margarethen and Zagersdorf but for this wine Hannes Schuster uses younger vineyards (between 10 and 25 years old). The must is spontaneously fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in big oak barrels for 18 months. It’s bottled without fining and without filtration.
Unfined and unfiltered Blaufränkisch from the village of Rust on the hills beside Lake Neusiedl.
Smells pleasingly rustic with red berries, briar, turned soil, old spice cupboard, ferrous things. In the palate, more medium weight than light weight, quite a sour-sweet wine, but in that pleasing, amaro-like way. Texture is suede, touch dusty, but feels rich in personality of fruit. Finishes refreshing and faintly ripe, red berry fruit sweet. Lots to mull over and enjoy. 93 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front January 2016
The 2013 Sankt Margarethen Blaufränkisch is a great village wine from Austria’s Burgenland. Concentrated and fleshy, with white-pepper powder and black-olive flavors highlighting the perfectly ripe dark cherry, blackberry and cassis aromas on the nose, this is a round and full-bodied, pure, fresh and elegant wine with remarkable fine tannins. This is probably the Blaufränkisch where fruit wine drinkers and Nebbiolo fans could come together. The concentration here is enormous and so is the tannin and acidity, but also: how refined. The finish is pure, fresh and long and reveals a stimulating robustness with leather and tobacco flavors in the aftertaste. What purity, vitality, finesse and elegance!94 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
Joint venture between Hannes Schuster and Roland Velich old Schuster family vines.
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