Christoph Hoch is a Biodynamic wine-grower in the Kremstal region of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) in Austria. From 2009 (aged 19) he made wine at his parents’ winery dating from 1640. He struck out on his own in 2011 with 5ha of vines but unlike his family who worked conventionally he worked Biodynamically. He made wine under his own name from 2013.
Family history: The Hoch family has lived since 1640 in Hollenburg on the Danube River. They regulated river traffic. Bottle labels bear the family’s coat of arms.
Vineyards: 2018 5 hectares (12.3 acres). Christoph took vines on a range of different sites (four initially).
Terroir: Hollenburg lies on the south bank of the Danube on the Kremstal or Hollenburger conglomerate [Hollenburger Konglomerat and Loess] being a unique geological formation. This was formed by the Traisental and Danube river crashing together and compacting chalk and river stones together. The chalk comes from the Alps and it was brought by the Traisental River. Christoph compared it to the chalk in the Côte des Blancs in Champagne and with equal active limestone. Christoph described the area around Hollenberg as ‘a chalky island, on almost primary rock’ (Demeter Austria tasting, Vienna 26th February 2018).
Certification: 2015 was the first vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification.
Production: Hoch makes less than 3,000 cases per year, 70% Gruner Veltliner and 30% Riesling, of which 30% are sparkling.
Winery: In the cellar, there are two levels – one is a bit warmer and the wines all go through malo (naturally) and the lower cellar is cooler and the wines mostly do not go through malo. Christoph feels that limiting a wine to a single vintage does not show the best of the terroir expression and so each year he releases a wine with a base year and some previous years blended in. Up to this point, 15% of the previous year’s vintage is blended into the current release. The main vintage in the blend (aka – 85% of the wine in the bottle) is always shown in parentheses, but technically, it’s a non-vintage wine.
Winemaking: Spontaneous fermentation in wooden barrels (oak and acacia), some whites fermented on the skins and some racked. All of the wine is aged in barrel (all used) and he treats each barrel as it’s own project. Fermentations happen naturally and slowly in neutral barrels.
Kalkspitz is a petillant naturel. ‘Kalk’ is chalk, ‘Spitz’ is acidity. Kalkspitz is mainly Grüner Veltliner, plus Zweigelt, Sauvignon Blanc, Blauer Portugieser and Muskat Ottonel. The chalky soil is not far removed from that of the Côte des Blancs in Champagne. Christophe learnt about sparkling wine in Champagne, spending time with Eric DeSousa, Michel Laherte, and Benoït Tarlant of Champagne Tarlant. The latter was sceptical Christoph could make a technically good pet nat but and as part of a bet ended up giving Christoph twelve barrels to use. NV (2016) Very nice orange/nat style (Millésime Bio 2017). | NV (2018) Dry. No more than 11% alcohol. Maximum 3 bar of pressure. Lightly beer-like at (Demeter Austria tasting 2018).
Kalkreich: ‘Chalk rich.’ Sparkling. 6.8 bar pressure. Dosage for the second fermentation in-bottle was grape juice taken from vines treated with stinging nettle to get larger, more juice-rich berries grapes for the dosage. 36 months on lees. Totally dry. Very salty, exceptionnally good (Demeter Austria tasting 2018).
Grüner Veltliner, Hollenburger: 100% Grüner Veltliner aged in a range and size of oak. The number of lots in the final blend is shown on the label. NV Lovely acid, smooth, savoury (Demeter Austria tasting 2018).
Riesling, Hollenburger NV: Fermented in big oak barrels. Lovely weight, refreshing salinity (Demeter Austria tasting 2018).
Rosé NV: Pet nat. Powdery plum fruit (Demeter Austria tasting 2018).
A-3506 Hollenburg an der Donau, Austria
Demeter Austria tasting, Vienna 26th February 2018.
Millésime Bio organic wine fair, Marseille, January 2017.