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  • Julia Harding MW
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  • Julia Harding MW
20 Oct 2017

From €18.50, £26.99, $40 

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This wine is a grand cru in everything but name and price. The variety is the relatively rare Austrian grape Rotgipfler (just 123 ha/304 acres in Austria in 2015) and the vineyard, pictured right, is called Satzing. 

The Thermenregion region, south of Vienna and shown in yellow in this World Atlas of Wine map of Austria, is not particularly well known either but it has more vines and more producers than the Wachau. It is both the place of origin and the home of Rotgipfler, which is often blended with its half-sibling Zierfandler in a wine labelled Gumpoldskirchen.

Johanneshof Reinisch bottle these varieties jointly and separately and while I enjoyed all of the above in a recent tasting, it was the Satzing Rotgipfler 2016 that stood out, stopping me in my tracks for its intensity, creamy texture, sophistication, harmony – even in youth – and fabulously rich, spicy, slightly smoky flavours and discreet use of oak. It's powerful but not at all heavy, the alcohol a well-balanced 14%.

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Since the 2015 vintage is the one available on some markets, I tasted that as well and found it to be very similar to the 2016, though the refined and reserved oak had receded a little further and the acidity was perhaps minutely lower. As Michael Reinisch pointed out, both 2015 and 2016 were excellent vintages for Rotgipfler.

The company is run by the fourth generation of the Reinisch family, the three brothers Hannes, Michael and Christian (left to right below), who also make very good red wines, mostly from Pinot Noir, Zweigelt and St Laurent, but it's their whites that are particularly distinctive. There is also a very good varietal Rotgipfler made from fruit from several vineyards. While it is lower in price and less intense, it does give you a good idea of the variety.

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The Satzing Rotgipfler is made from organically farmed vines that are more than 40 years old and get plenty of sunshine thanks to their south and south-east exposure and the soil has a high level of shell limestone in the rocky brown-earth conglomerate (pictured below). The wine ferments spontaneously (ie without the addition of cultured yeast) in 700-litre oak barrels and then spends 12 months on the lees in those same barrels.

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The Reinisch family export their wines to 23 countries and the Satzing Rotgipfler is available in Denmark, Belgium, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, the US and the UK. Their importer in the US is Circo Vino based in Arizona (contact their website for information on availability or see the list of distributors in other states), and in the UK it is Astrum Wine Cellars. Astrum tell me that Handford Wines in West London and The Solent Cellar in Lymington both have the 2015 at the moment.

Wine-searcher is also showing some older vintages. Although I have not tasted the 2014, I have tasted 2009 to 2013 in the past and have never scored this wine less than 17/20, and always considered it to have the potential to age well in bottle. (If you are a Purple Pager, you can see my notes on earlier vintages by putting Satzing Rotgipfler into our tasting notes search.)

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