Grown in deep loess (literally “loose”) and alluvial soil situated on massive terraces sloping down to the Danube, Rosensteig is the largest production Grüner and the calling card of the estate. “Rosensteig” means “rose path” in German. By smell alone you would expect a heavier and rich wine, but fresh acidity keeps it light on its feet. Steely and immediately refreshing, when allowed to open up exotic flavours pointing East come alive, slight peppery notes and spritz on the finish.
Food match: Pair with cold Asian salads, fatty white fish, and virtually anything smoked or cured. Nothing wrong with a Schnitzel over a bed of apple and cabbage slaw either.
Low alcohol at 11.5%
Vineyards: Geyerhof organically farms roughly 20 hectares located on the hillsides around the winery. Promotion of beneficial species, sowing of nitrogen absorbing plants, use of compost and rock flour for plant nutrition, and abstaining from the use of all pesticides, insecticides, botrytis and weed control substances as well as soluble mineral fertilizer are all standard practices. Loess and alluvial soil east of the winery (Gaisberg and Rosensteig), primary rock to the northwest (Steinleithn and Kirchensteig), and loamy soil to the south (Hoher Rain). 60% of the vineyard area is planted to Grüner Veltliner, 20% to Riesling, and the balance to Zweigelt, Weissburgunder, Chardonnay, and Gelber Muskateller. Recent clonal selections came from the famous Knoll vineyards. Asked if biodynamic viticulture has ever seemed to be a next step, Ilse says she doesn’t believe it to be necessary—bio is not a “step up” from organic, just a different approach.
Winemaking: Fruit is handpicked and strictly sorted in the vineyard. Healthy clusters are pressed whole, and the must is intentionally oxidized in the press tray resulting in deeper flavours and greater ageability. Wines are fermented and aged in 3,000 litre temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The slow, even fermentation never exceeds 22 °C. A small percentage of whites and the red wine are aged in neutral oak tanks or barrels. Spontaneous fermentation is preferred, but never at the expense of quality. Malolactic fermentation is avoided in the whites. No other additions are used except for sulfur post fermentation. Wines remain on the lees until just before gentle filtration and bottling.
History: 400 Years in wine. Ilse Maier’s mother’s family has lived in the hilltop village of Oberfucha since the 16th century where the family began in agriculture and brickworks. In the 17th century, Maria Theresia, archduchess of Austria, granted the property owner, whose name was Geyer, a concession to transport wine on the Danube in trade with Hungary and other regions along the river. The ship on the wine label refers to this trade. Today, the winery is housed in a 16th century structure built of brick, with cellars beneath it constructed between the early 1300’s and the late 1700’s. Among these, the “French cellar” where Napoleon’s army stored their wine rations during a battle in nearby Wagram. The room’s perfect temperature and humidity make it an ideal place to archive the best of each vintage. In 1986, after studying agriculture in Vienna and spending time in San Rapel, Argentina, Ilse joined her father in wine production. Today she works in the vineyards and the cellar, aided by her son Josef to produce wines reflective of their site.