Claus Preisinger "Edelgraben" Blaufrankisch 2016
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Direct Press Selection | October 2021
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Claus Preisinger is making wine near Gols, in the Burgenland, which is right at the center of the natural wine scene in Austria, and right on the Neusiedlersee, the biggest inland lake in Europe, that sits on the Austria-Hungary border. He is only 41 but began working with ambient yeasts and low sulfur back in 2002. He got Biodynamic certification in 2006. After many years of working this way, his wines are not funky at all, but fine, filigreed expressions of the soils around the Neusiedlersee.
Edelgraben is one of the best vineyards in the Leithaberg appellation, itself one of the best areas for Austrian red wines. Austria still thinks of itself as a white wine country, as the reds being serviceable but not world-class. I think there's enormous potential for red wines, but a lighter touch is usually needed. Austria may never deliver the same satisfaction as Bordeaux, but that's not necessary when they can express a filigreed subtlety instead. It's still difficult to find people working like this. Claus Preisinger is one of the few, and easily one of the best.
Traveling in Austria recently, I was desperately thirsty for a red in this vein but had a lot of trouble finding one, even at some of the best natural wine bars in Vienna. Even back in NY, I struggled with the reds that were supposed to be the most impressive offerings of very good producers. It was with this in mind that I finally found this Blaufränkisch from Preisinger. This has the perfect balance of freshness and texture, with haunting floral notes extending far beyond the last sip. Boysenberry, juicy blackberry, and a lively prickle of cranberries and mouth-watering acidity. All of this is stitched together with impressively fine, detailed tannins.
From 30-50 year-old vines planted on calcareous soil and slate, it spends 10 months in amphora. Zero sulfur added, but clean and beautiful. Drinking really well now, it's barely showing it's age and should develop nicely with even more time in bottle. [Jonathan Kemp, September 2021]