Christoph Hoch 'Hollenburger' Rot NV
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Direct Press Selection
Christoph Hoch is another Austrian in this month's lineup of Biodynamic producers, maybe not surprising given Rudolf Steiner's heritage. In addtion to farming 12 hectares, Hoch also teaches Biodynamics at the wine school in nearby Krems. He has a lot of ideas that are not typical, especially in the more conservative and esteemed Kremstal region of lower Austria. One of his ideas is that he wants to do away with vintage, preferring to have soil take precedence. I was also very interested in the unique way he classifies his parcels, as laid out by his importer Bowler Wines: "Throughout all of Hoch’s vineyards, you find a mix of mustard, rye, and phacelia. He considers all of his parcels by four categories: dry, chalky, nutrient rich, or holds water. Depending on the category, he will plant the herbs and grains accordingly. Mustard brings sulfur to the soil, which protects the plants and transfers it naturally to the wines, so that he can use as little as possible at bottling. Rye brings carbon to the soil. He knocks it down after it has grown and it creates a natural humus. The carbon from the rye works with the phacelia and creates nitrogen."
The Hollenburger Rot (rot=red in German) is a blend of vintages and a blend of Zweigelt and Portugieser. It's a very light, chillable red with some of that animal funk, maybe because some of the barrels are not topped up and develop flor like in the Jura or in Sherry. Cherry, sumac, sassafras, burnt orange, and iron notes with savory complexity and smooth freshness. Only 9.5% alcohol, it's perfect for spicy food, brunch, or both. Unique and definitely shows Christoph's goal of making wines that 'inspire emotion' even if people reject them at times. Jonathan Kemp