Grosser Sekt – great sparkling wine from Gumpoldskirchen in Austria

Kamptal winemaker Fred Loimer has been producing internationally renowned sparkling wines since 2013. In 2018, he launched his first Grosse Reserve Blanc de Blancs from Langenlois. Now follows the Grosse Reserve Blanc de Noirs from Gumpoldskirchen.

Photo: Jürgen Schmücking

Vienna, 28th September 2021

According to the Austrian wine law, a Grosse Reserve Sekt (grand reserve sparkling wine) must age on its lees for three years. But it is up to five years for Fred Loimer, who cultivates, in addition to the vineyards in his home town of Langenlois in the northern Kamptal region, also vineyards in Gumpoldskirchen in the Thermenregion southwest of Vienna. There, at the foot of the 700-meter-high Anninger mountain, are growing the biodynamic Pinot Noir grapes for the Gumpoldskirchen Grosse Reserve Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, whose premiere is being celebrated with the 2016 vintage. Marine sediments of clay and sand with alpine limestone gravel characterise this second great sparkling wine from the house of Loimer, which is on equal par with the Langenlois Große Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 2016. This Blanc de Blancs just recently captured the “Best Sparkling Wine of Austria” title at the Salon Austria Wine. And now, over the last days, the two sparkling wines were presented to international professionals, and were accompanied by Loimer’s Brut Rosé Reserve, NV and Extra Brut Reserve, NV. The latter was awarded a gold medal by the British wine consumer magazine, Decanter, in 2020. Says Sascha Speicher, editor-in-chief of Germany’s Meiningers Sommelier magazine and the special edition of Champagne Magazin: “Fred Loimer is one of the leading minds for the new, exciting Austrian sparkling wine world. Dust-dry, sophisticated, and craftsmanship at the highest level. From Blanc de Blancs to Rosé.” The Gumpoldskirchen Grosse Reserve Blanc de Noirs 2016 is available now at the Loimer winery and online shop for € 35. It is also available at well-stocked specialist stores.

For Fred Loimer, time and precision are the most important ingredients for a great sparkling wine, which for him encompasses complexity, depth, saltiness and freshness. Time was given to the Gumpoldskirchen Grosse Reserve by a precise point of harvest; in the challenging year of 2016, this was at the end of September. After hand-picking and whole bunch pressing, the spontaneous fermentation lasted two to four weeks, depending on the wooden barrel. The base wine was subsequently matured in these on the full lees for seven months and on the fine lees in steel tanks for a further three months. In September 2017, the wine was bottled for the second fermentation and after 43 months was disgorged in April 2021. Fred Loimer recommends a further ageing period of up to three years.

In the top international culinary sphere. Loimer’s sparkling wines are in demand particularly in top Scandinavian and American restaurants. Among these are the Michelin-starred Kontrast in Oslo and Speilsalen in Trondheim. And at Hotel at Six in Stockholm, Selma in Copenhagen, Seks Café in Copenhagen, and – also in Denmark – Kosken pa Odden. Loimer sparklings are imbibed also at SOMM and Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius in Lithuania, Restaurant Publique in The Hague, Aberdeen Marina Club and Hapi Fish in Hong Kong, and Wallsé in New York.

Tasting the Gumpoldskirchen Grosse Reserve Blanc de Noirs 2016: “Really Blanc – different from many other Blanc de Noirs; a very fresh but not necessarily fruity aroma, some red apple, lots of almond, walnut, tarragon, pistachio, very fine herbal spice and a light flintiness; has good punch; also a gentle tartness and gripping texture; animated but also demanding with its tart bite; the chalky texture adds tension to the individual parts,” says Sascha Speicher, Editor-in-Chief of Meiningers Sommelier magazine in Germany.

Weingut Loimer. Since 2013, Fred Loimer has been producing sparkling wines in addition to his internationally renowned Rieslings, Grüner Veltliners and Pinot Noirs. The sparklings account for about 15 percent of Loimer’s total production and are sold in 22 of his 55 export countries – and the trend is growing. The dedicated biodynamicist cultivates a total of 85 hectares of vines around his hometown of Langenlois, which is in the Kamptal region, and on the completely different (climatically and geologically) eastern slopes of the Vienna Woods in Gumpoldskirchen. The Kamptal is marked by harsh northerly winds, hot days and cool nights, and soils of loess, gneiss, sandstone, gravel and clay. In Gumpoldskirchen, it is warm and dry as this region, located southwest of Vienna, is under strong Pannonian influence. The nearby Vienna Woods provide oxygen-rich air and soils consisting of sandy loam, loamy clay, calcareous brown earth and limestone gravel. Fred Loimer is a founding member of the biodynamic winegrowers’ group, respekt-BIODYN, and his winery has been biodynamically certified since 2006.

Austrian Sekt g.U. (geschützter Ursprungsbezeichnung – ‘Protected Designation of Origin’. In 2015, the three-tiered Sekt (sparkling wine) pyramid was created in the wine law. The entry-level category, Sekt g.U. Klassik, stands for nine months of ageing and freshness, and the grapes must come from Austria. The top two levels, Reserve & Grosse Reserve, are dominated by bottle-fermented (traditional method) estate sparkling wines: Sekt g.U. Reserve requires hand-harvested grapes from a single Austrian state, traditional bottle fermentation, and 18 months of ageing on the lees. The grapes for Sekt g.U. Grosse Reserve must come from a single municipality and must be hand-harvested. Also mandatory for this category are traditional bottle fermentation and at least three years of ageing on the lees.

Press release written by Sylvia Petz | Agentur für organisierten Genuss

The Miracle Soil

The soil thinks. It feels. And it is intelligent. It contains the consciousness of the earth! This isn’t just a philosophical approach to the most important resource of humans and animals. It can be observed in nature.

Over billions of years, beginning with simple plants (mosses) and then, finally, animals formed the soil through weathered minerals. Complex processes that tell of living and dying. Soil – the basis of all life.

In a handful of healthy soil, there are billions of inhabitants, plants (soil flora) and animals (soil fauna). They ensure that new soil is formed again and again and that  nutrients are available for the plants.

As respect-BIODYN farmers, what do we do to ensure that this system is not disturbed and always continues? We feed the soil life!

Green manure – The soil must always be protected. This protection is provided by plants. Diverse green cover gives shade, attracts insects and offers protection for worms and beetles. And with mowing, mineralisation and humification is triggered. Through this, new soil is formed and nutrients are made available. Clovers (legumes) pull in nitrogen from the atmosphere. Also flax (linseed), buckwheat, crimson clover, marigold, cornflower and other plants provide a wonderful landscape that is attractive not only to insects.

Compostcomprised of organic material from the surrounding environment. Shrub and grass cuttings, and dung from horses, sheep and cows. Also grape pomace and stalks from the vineyard. This is our self-produced fertiliser. The material matures in compost heaps for six to nine months before it is spread over the soil in autumn. The happy worms pull the mature humus together with the fallen leaves and the rotting green manures into the deeper soil layers. In autumn and winter, when plants and animals are at rest, there is much happening below the surface. It‘s time for the soil to build up.

Compost tea compost bacteria are needed to support soil building and restructuring. In a special compost tea barrel, the bacteria of the mature compost are multiplied with the help of sugar (molasses), oxygen, minerals and rock flour, and then sprayed onto the soil.This improves the compost processes in the soil.

Field spray preparation 500the biodynamic horn manure arranges and “guides” these processes. The horn manure preparation could be described as a kind of compost concentrate enriched with the consciousness of the earth and the emotions of the farmer. While the effect cannot be measured directly, it has been proven in countless field trials in agriculture. Clearly recognisable is the more balanced growth of the vines and the achievement of healthy, physiological ripeness of the grapes.

Biodynamic Philosophy

Pruning – The Winemaker’s Craft

A cold day in January. The vineyard is in hibernation. Nothing grows, nothing moves. Nothing? Well, that’s not true. Between the Winter solstice in December and the meterological beginning of Spring at the beginning of March, the vine is in absolute Winter dormancy – which is why these weeks are ideal for pruning.

Reserve materials. After the grapes have ripened and been harvested, the vine still has sufficient time to store nutrients into the old wood and its root system. This guarantees an adequate maturity of the wood. That takes time – and we give it. Our vines are therefore quiet in November and December. They store reserve materials in order to be prepared for a healthy and powerful start at the beginning of May.

That’s why we begin cutting in January, after the Epiphany (Feast of the Three Kings) holiday. And we want to be finished by the beginning of March at the latest. The cutting back of the shoots is the most intense vine intervention and must be done very carefully; the vine is not able to close large wounds over with tissue (callus) like, for example, an apple tree does. Large wounds remain open and dry deep into the cane, which allows the entry of fungi and diseases.

We prune only by hand, cleanly and precisely, and only one- and two-year-old wood so that the wounds stay small and dry out quickly. In addition, we leave “respect wood” – some wood over the last eye (bud) so that the natural drying process doesn’t cause any damage. We try to give the cane shape and structure, and respect the natural flow of sap.

Professionals at work. We have been training our employees in “gentle pruning” since 2011. Each person prunes up to 800 vines a day.

“Gentle Pruning” – is the name of this method, which was developed in Friuli by Marco Simonit and Piercarlo Sirch. The model was based on old training systems such as Stockkultur in Austria and Albarello and Gobelet in the Mediterranean region. The knowledge and art of the old winemakers have been applied; pruning is a craft once again.

Spur/ Cordon and Spur / Bow  are the variants we use for our vine pruning. Depending on the variety and vineyard site, we make careful decisions in order to find the best training method for the vines. The intensity of the “cutting back” is actually decided by the vine, because each vine has its own growth mode and the pruner must be attunded to this in order not to overwhelm or underchallenge the vine.

And the vines thank us for this. They grow more evenly, remain healthier and more resilient, and thrive to become healthy old vines.  They also are known for making the best wine.