Karl Schnabel | Biodynamic wine producer in the South Styria or Südsteiermark region of Austria. Karl’s parents died when he was 17 – his mother in a car crash and his father later from cancer. Karl took over from his family in 2000. Karl, his wife Eva and their three sons (Armin, Valentin, Marwin) run the estate. Karl has studied agricultural economics at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Eva has studied business administration at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. They gained practical knowledge of winemaking from stays in Burgundy in 1997 and 1998.
Vineyards | 5 hectares (12.35 acres). Mainly red wine varieties. In South Styria (Südsteiermark), on the Sausal mountain whose steep hillside soils comprise siliceous primary rocks or Urgestein.
Vineyard sites | Hochegg, Kreuzegg, Koregg.
Grape varieties | White: Welschriesling, Chardonnay (Morillon). Red: Blaufränkisch, Blauer Wildbacher (Schilcher), Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir), (Blauer) Zweigelt.
Biodiversity | 15 hectares (37 acres) of meadows. These meadows contain all the wild plants needed to make the Biodynamic compost preparations 502-507 (yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian). Silica–in its white rather than transparent form–is also found allowing Horn silica 501 to be made. Common horsetail for the Equisetum arvense 508 field spray is also found growing wild. And because, from 2007, the estate has its own herd of cows, it is self-reliant for manure for both Biodynamic compost 502-507 and the Horn manure 500 field spray. Thus, for Biodynamics, this estate is a perfect example of a self-sustaining living organism. In addition watering holes have been provided for wildlife (birds, reptiles).
Certification | 2003 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification. | 2017 Still Demeter certified Biodynamic.
Winemaking | No added sulfites or additives have been used here during winemaking since 2007 (I was told at the Real Wine Fair 2016).
Morillon | 100% Chardonnay (‘Morillon’). From vines at 550 metres (feet). Soil type is Urgestein (see above). | 2013 No added sulfites. | 2014 11.5%. 4.2g/l RS. Orange wine style. Wild ferment. 10 days on skins. 12-24 months in used Burgundy barrels with lees stirring. Unfined. Unfiltered. One of the best NAS (no added sulfites) wines I have so far tasted (in this case at the Real Wine Fair 2016.
Rheinriesling | 2014 11.5%. 1.3g/l RS. Orange wine style.
Blaufränkisch, Hochegg | 2011 No added sulfites. | 2012 No added sulfites. Very nice, complex tannin, delicious, and again very clean at the Real Wine Fair 2016.
Pinot Noir, Hochegg | 2013 No added sulfites. | 2014 12%. 0.6g/l residual sugar.
Sausal | 2014 12%. Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch, Blauer Zweigelt.
Urgestein | Named after the eponymous soil type, see above. | 2013 12.5%. Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch, Blauer Zweigelt.
Zweigelt, Kreuzegg | 2013 12.5%. No added sulfites. | 2014 Fantastic depth, wild, plus cheesey reductive notes at the Real Wine Fair 2017.
Bioweingut Karl Schnabel
Maierhof 34, A-8443 Gleinstätten, Austria
Tel+43 03457 3643 / www.karl-schnabel.at
Isabelle Legeron MW, Natural Wine, An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines grown naturally (2014, Cico Books, London & New York), p190.
Real Wine Fair 2016, Tobacco Dock, London 17-18th April.
Real Wine Fair 2017, Tobacco Dock, London, 7th May.