We’re raising a glass – a Pitt Nat, actually – to our great friends Gerhard and Brigitte Pittnauer. The husband-and-wife team have just been awarded the coveted Trophée Gourmet for their outstanding wines and biodynamic farming practices by Austria’s A la Carte magazine.
“Gerhard Pittnauer’s wines are as unmistakable as he is – unmistakeable characters, memorable and marked with perceptible star appeal,“ said A la Carte editor Christian Grünwald in awarding the prize. “What Pittnauer does with a regional grape variety such as St. Laurent, or with his Mash Pitt white wine cuvée, is a model for contemporary winemaking on a world-class level.”
The Trophée Gourmet A la Carte is known as Austria’s wine and gastronomy Oscar, and this Winemaker’s Trophy recognises extraordinary achievements in viticulture. It’s arguably the most prestigious award in the Austrian hospitality, hotel and wine industry. It comes hot on the heels of Gerhard’s triumph as 2014 Falstaff Winemaker of the Year.
“I’m very happy about the Trophée Gourmet and I dedicate it to my wife Brigitte, because we work hand in hand,“ said Gerhard. “From production through the winemaking, to management and sales, everything is done by us in partnership. This success belongs to both of us.”
The Pittnauers concentrate on the local red varieties St. Laurent, Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir, but in recent years have also made a name with their skin-contact “Mash Pitt” and Pitt Nat méthode rurale sparkling.
The couple, who are founding members of Austria’s respekt-BIODYN group, biodynamically manage their 18 hectares of vineyards in Gols with total conviction. These include such revered sites as Altenberg, Ungerberg, Salzberg and Rosenberg. Their reds are characterised by varietal typicity, freshness and liveliness. They’re zesty wines with comparatively low alcohol and plenty of excitement and drinkability. They have structure, character and individuality, which is also reflected in the winery’s memorable labels.
2016 Pittnauer Pitt Nat RRP $48
Delicious pétillant naturel rosé, where the fermentation is finished off in bottle. It has scents of candy floss, wild strawberry and cranberry with notes of garrigue. The palate is creamy and textural with racy acidity bringing it to a super-refreshing perfumed, red-berried finish.
2015 Pittnauer Dogma Rosé RRP $35
Leering, lurid garnet colour. Lively with cherry pip, maraschino cherry aromas. Shows some spice and ruby grapefruit lift in perfume too. Palate is crunchy, tangy, more of the bright cherry kind of feel, so refreshing, so thirst crushing, feels just so darn good to drink. A little rub of tannin and extra tang to finish. Stacks to like here. 93 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front December 2016
2015 Pittnauer Pitti RRP $26
Intense kind of wine but geez it feels good to drink. It’s heady in dark fruit, prune, cinnamon, cola and anise scents. The palate is a punchy wash of dark fruits, kirsch, faint herbs. It’s juicy but has pops of bright acidity through it, making it feel a touch wild, but also, supremely refreshing as a red. Do you like medium weight, spicy-feeling reds with some oomph? Here ya go. 91 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front December, 2016
2015 Pittnauer Dorflagen St Laurent RRP $35
Almost too light, but you forgive the wine for its bright, frisky, gulpable feel. Scents of red cherry, sweaty herbs (in a positive sense), game meat, white pepper, amaro. Palate is in the cranberry spectrum with the same chalky feel. It dances on the tongue with perky red cherry fruits, savoury-meaty stuff, herbal character, a pleasing sour-bitter twist to finish. I absolutely wanted to nail my glass. And another. 91 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front April 2017
2012 Pittnauer St Laurent Altenberg RRP $85
There’s a certain charm with Gerhard Pittnauer’s St Laurent wines and he produces several off different sites, this planted on the Altenberg vineyard’s slopes, opposite the Rosenberg. The fruit is just lovely, bound by savouriness though and an amazing aroma profile bordering on Middle Eastern and Asian spices. Sweet round tannins, textural, alluring, full-bodied, balanced with a minerally acid threat driving this to a persistent finish. 95 points. Jane Faulkner, Halliday Magazine May 2016