At the Annual Tasting of Austrian Wines, I bumped into Robert McIntosh and asked him what wines he had found interesting.
He suggested I wander over to Ott to try the Qvevre Grüner Veltliner natural wine.
I know Ott's more conventional wines, but I had never tried his natural wine before; there is no standard definition of natural wine, but organic and bio-dynamic is just the start.
Typically, natural wines use only the wild yeasts found on the grape skins, minimal interference by the wine-maker and little or no added sulphur for preservation - which can lead to them quickly becoming yellow and oxidised.
Fermented in Georgian amphoras of between 500l and 2,000l (known as Qvevri, hence the wine's name), the grapes for the Qvevre are de-stemmed, but otherwise just left to ferment spontaneously.
The porous clay amphoras are simply washed and sterilised with ash and then sealed with beeswax.
It's all very intriguing, basic and somehow almost Pagan or Druidic in its sense of reverence for the Natural World.
As to the wine itself, it has no overt fruit aromas on the nose but is all about the texture and mouthfeel, which are quite incredible and unlike any conventional wine I have come across; it feels mouthfilling with a creamy texture and a spicy pepperiness.
This wine was the 2010 and my enthusiasm for it brought forward an offer to try the 2009 as well.
This had the same mouthfilling pepperiness and creamy texture, but felt more open, perhaps reflecting the extra year in bottle.
The wines are imported by Savage Selection.
Ott - www.ott.at
Savage Selection - www.savageselection.co.uk
Image credits: http://www.falstaff.at/fileadmin/user_upload/media/bilder/2010/reise/afrika/trauminseln_indischer_ozean/bg/ott-steve-haider_460.jpg