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Logo - does it mean anything?

Yes, and it even has many interpretations and meanings.

My father, much like myself, is a very open person, and we enjoy telling our clients, colleagues, workers, interns and friends about all our experiences and experiments. This openness is one of our traditions and is also represented on our labels: the holes extend an invitation to look deeper into the wine – we’re not hiding behind the label but allow you to look deeply into the creation of the wine.

The idea came from our graphic designers after they visited our tasting room. They liked the 9 holes which we had punched into the bar in order to let out warm air from the wine fridge, and so they also had to feature on our wine label.

Lichtwitz Leinfellner

The sun motif stems from the old labels before 1999. With the 2017 vintage, we decided to reduce it even more to the essentials and have left it out.

At some point, clients pointed out that we had make a mistake on our wine label. They mentioned that our label was supposed to represent our solar system consisting of the sun as well as nine planets, but that there was a celestial body missing. It took a bit of time, but in 2006 Pluto lost its status as planet, thanks to us ;-)

Natural wine

The natural wine movement is extremely important to me! It brings openness and individuality back into the wine, and this applies to the winemaking as well as to the taste. Just like the organic movement of the 1970s, the world of natural wine seeks other distribution channels and steers change in the winemaking world, forwards and away from wine as a luxury good.

Despite the meaning of the movement, I find the term “natural wine” an inaccurate choice. To me, wine should be fundamentally a natural product, therefore I would rather distinguish between “wine” and “industrially made wine”. It is a natural metamorphosis which makes up the foundations of wine: grapes die and are then resurrected, gaining eternal life as a new spiritual product. By the way, before 1950 here in central Burgenland, where the clocks tick a little slower, many wines were natural wines, even as late as the 1980s. It was only through the industrialisation of land and wine farming that grapes started being made into today’s market-driven “wine-like beverages”. We as producers and artisans can be glad that a part of the consumer base also looks for natural, honest products. This is how our heritage can be protected.

Sulphur in Wine

Let me just mention upfront that modern oenology uses sulphur as a stabiliser. That this works has been known for a very, very long time, but sulphur is actually also created completely naturally during the wine’s fermentation process.

At some point I came to the realisation that oenology is not a natural science but a study of culture. Sulphuring a wine is therefore a cultural phenomenon.

However, does it mesh with my Pannonian wine culture?
We know relatively little about our wine culture, which is why I began relying on my personal preferences when it comes to sulphur. Wines without added sulphur taste better to me, so I only add it if the grape juice needs it. During fermentation, it is completely unnecessary. Before bottling, it may sometimes happen that we need to protect our wines from further oxygenation, so that they remain enjoyable. Only in that case do we add minimal sulphur. There are vintages where this step is not necessary, and others where it is. Why this is I don’t know. Nature is complex and, thank goodness, cannot be controlled entirely.

Why Furmint?

The more I explored the winemaking history of our homeland, the clearer it became to me that these well-drained, rocky soils were planted mostly with white grape varieties and that the heavy, clay-rich soils of Horitschon, Lutzmannsburg or Deutsch Schützen belonged to Blaufränkisch. But which white varieties were planted? Single variety wines as we often drink nowadays were hardly produced back then. The classic “Gemischter Satz” or field blend was being made in the cellars – would I also go this route? In 2009, after thorough deliberation, I decided to plant Furmint. This variety’s appearance, with its straight and upward growth, reminded me of Blaufränkisch, which is why I decided on a linear wine. I was also convinced that due to its character, Furmint would suit itself very well to my winemaking approach – malolactic fermentation and slow ageing in large barrels, bottling unfined and unfiltered wine. Unfortunately, nature threw a spanner in the work, and the vines, which I had obtained from Szepsy Istvan, were destroyed by frost. Eight years later, I revisited my idea and today, I cultivate Furmint in 3 sites: Steiner in Balf, Neckenmarkt’s Bodigraben and Ritzinger In den Rainen.

Organic - Biodynamic

Organic agriculture aims to create clean, deposit-free products using scientific knowledge. This means that artificial pesticides cannot be used by organic producers, as these chemicals (like antibiotics in people) spread through all cells and can therefore be traced. Apart from this, plants often become resistant to these substances, so they only work in high doses and increasingly not at all, unfortunately.

Biodynamics is a much older way of farming. Here, the approach is philosophical, the central aspect being sustainability. The focus is on the cyclical nature of farming and the rhythm of the seasons, which influence the plants. Furthermore, the idea is that this type of farming should operate without external resources, which for me translates to deliberately forgoing fining agents and stabilisers in the cellar in favour of producing a pure wine.

Closure? Diam, Corks, Screw Caps

Some of you may have noticed that we have been using Diam corks more and more in the past few years. How did this come about, what does it have to do with screw caps and were the corks at the beginning of 2000 really so terrible?

Yes!! Around 2000 - 2004, the quality of corks in Austria collapsed once and for all. We had to reckon on up to 10% cork failure due to TCA contamination. A further problem was the diminishing flexibility of the corks due to the new cork treatment substances used in an attempt to combat TCA. This also led to brittle, crumbly corks in addition to the tannin issue. (The more elegant our wines became, the more we noticed that corks also give off tannins in the wine, which can be positive or negative.) This is why we too began looking for alternatives and have been bottling some of our wines with screw caps.

Screw Caps

The results were relatively poor. At the time, we were in the process of converting to organic, and our vineyards had to contend with a lot of cover crop competition. This meant that there was only little oxygen present which the yeast was able to use, and so our wines became very reductive. It presented a challenge to us, because this is a phenomenon which actually arises in all organic or biodynamic farms during their conversion phase, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Go and taste some of the relevant vintages and you will see. The wines bottled with corks seemed to be less problematic as this porous material lets in oxygen and also contains oxygen, thereby lessening the reductive character little by little. Further complicating the matter was the fact that Austria started using screw caps from Germany, where tinfoil was incorporated into screw caps (the Germans adopted this idea from the Australians, in their “fight against oxygen”) in order to block even more oxygen. In Old World countries, when screw caps are used, they use Saranex – the material which is also found in crown caps (for example the ones used for beer).

Saranex, Saran, tin

For a long time, we tried to get the upper hand over this issue through cellar work – by using less sulphur before bottling and more oxygen during vinification. A lot of measures were taken, but we did not achieve our goal through all this cellar work – instead we lost some quality, especially elegance.
What I found fascinating is that our wines from rocky (oxygen-rich) soils had a much lower reduction potential than the wines from the loamy (oxygen-poor) soils. Therefore, the pH levels pf the soils did not play a role. Since the year 2000, we have been purposefully forgoing sterile filtration, which is why there is always lees present in our wines. It keeps the wine young, as we say. I find this minimal reductive character desirable when it comes to our Blaufränkisch. It allows the wine to fully open up in a large glass or decanter, and to mature for a very long period. Now, one could counter with the argument that there are new screw caps that have been developed which have various oxygenation rates, and by using them I could also stay true to my style of wine when using screw caps. True, I could. But there are some “soft facts” which I’d like to mention here. Cork is a soft material. It has a balancing effect: it takes up pressure and also releases it again. One can observe these qualities in all aspects of winemaking, such as bottling. If the screw cap machine is only slightly off, it can cause considerable problems. The pressure of the caps as they are applied to the bottles has to be correct, otherwise one can end up with bottles which, in the worst case, leak or let in too much oxygen.
Another potential source of errors is the process of packing bottles into boxes. If two bottles bump against one another at their screw caps, the screw caps may become dented, leading to rapid oxygenation of the wine.
But corks also have a forgiving nature when it comes to the wine. They absorb and release. Reductive wines benefit from some oxygen. Wines leaning towards the oxidative end of the spectrum gain additional stability through the phenols present in the corks – however, these are not always a positive contribution.


“DIAM corks guarantee drinking pleasure without any cork taste. The ground cork is first sieved to remove all wood components before it is put through the Diamant process which cleans out any harmful chloranisoles. No chemicals are used during this cleaning process. It also reduces the microbial load and stabilises the material without removing important elements such as waxes. A further advantage is that no solvents or glues are used. Instead, the ground cork is mixed into a pulp with food-grade polyurethane and then baked under heat and pressure.”
That is what the producer had to say about the secret behind Diam corks.
This is why I began experimenting with Diam a few years ago. The process sounded consistent and I was especially convinced by the wines I had tasted which had been aged under this cork for 10 years. Our first results also appeared very promising. We first used Diam with our Blaufränkisch and for our special bottlings. Since the 2015 vintage, I have also been using Diam for our single vineyard wines. The fact that Domaine Leflaive recently completely converted to Diam helped to justify our decision. Even in Austria, there are more and more winemakers choosing this type of closure.

Are your wines vegan?

Yes, all of our wines are vegan. We generally do not use any finings, and thus also no finings of animal origin. The adhesive of our labels is also not of animal origin.

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