Weingut Sepp Moser | Estate vineyard and winery with Biodynamic certification (Demeter) located in the Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) region. Its vineyards are in two places, in the town of Rohrendorf in the Kremstal region where the winery is also located, and in Apetlon in the Neusiedlersee region.
Owner | Nikolaus ‘Niki’ Moser (Sepp’s son), and his wife Andrea. They have four children.
Background | The Moser family is one of Austria’s grand, traditional viticultural dynasties. The Moser family first made wine, in Rohrendorf in Kremstal in 1848. The most famous descendant of the family is viticulture pioneer Dr. Lenz Moser, who in the 1950s developed the high vine training system (hochkultur), also called the ‘Lenz Moser system’. His twin sons, Laurenz and Sepp, took over the estate in the second half of the 20th century. They divided their tasks: Sepp Moser was in charge of cultivation of the vines; Laurenz Moser was responsible for wine vinification. The Lenz Moser winery had the reputation of being a pioneer whose wines were exported to countries all over the globe. However, in the mid-1980s, nearly all of Austria’s export market collapsed due to the country’s “wine scandal”, and the Lenz Moser winery was faced with economic difficulties and, finally, had to be sold.
Sepp Moser (Lenz’s son) took his family’s vines out of the firm of Lenz Moser. He reduced the number of family vineyards in Rohrendorf, in the Kremstal area, and in Apetlon at Lake Neusiedl, keeping only the best sites. Then he ambitiously dedicated himself to creating exquisite wines full of character from a new total of 33 hectares (82 acres) of vineyards. He also took over the Atrium House in Rohrendorf, where the Moser Family had once lived, and turned the home’s regular cellar into a wine cellar. Thus, in 1987, he founded the new estate “Weingut Sepp Moser”. It is one of Austria’s youngest estates, but at the same time, it looks back on 150 years of viticultural tradition.
Nikolaus Moser | Today, the enterprise is run by Sepp’s son, Nikolaus or Niki. After having completed his secondary education, Niki studied Wine Management in Krems, Austria, and in addition acquired valuable experience through several internships in Burgundy and Bordeaux. In 1991, Nikolaus began assisting his father in the enterprise, and in 2000 assumed complete responsibility. It was he who converted the estate to biodynamics.
Estate vineyards | 50 hectares (123 acres) on two sites.
Rohrendorf vineyards, Kremstal | The ancestral seat of the family is located miles 44 miles (70 kilometres) west of Vienna, in Rohrendorf, a small village in the Kremstal wine growing area, a stone’s throw from the Danube river. This area is characterized by a permanent exchange of air masses with differing temperatures. While in the east, continental dry and hot air comes up the Danube valley, the cool air from the Waldviertel region to the north streams down the valley of the Krems river. As a result, there are repeated, significant drops in temperatures, especially at night – something that favours, above all, the fruitiness and freshness of the wines. The terraced vineyards lie on loess and conglomerate soils [glacial origin I think], mainly south-facing, and planted with white wine grape varieties. Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and even the red Blauburgunder (Pinot noir), are cultivated on an area of 24 hectares (60 acres). For biodiversity local trees are being planted: maple, oak, lime and walnut to encourage birds, and non-native ones are being removed. Niki Moser also plans to propagate site-specific plants – of which there exist some very rare ones – on the dry grasslands between the terraces in Rohrendorf. Karin Böhmer, an expert in wild flowers from the Waldviertel region, and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Holzner from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, were consulted for advice.
Breiter Rain vineyard | 2.5 hectares (7 acres). The five terraces are exposed to the south and planted exclusively with Grüner Veltliner. The site is not too steep and consists of loess and conglomerate rock soils. Because Breiter Rain protrudes from the vineyard, there is resulting ventilation, and the grapes remain longer on the vine, healthy, and reach high concentrations.
Gebling vineyard | In Krems. 8.5 hectares (21 acres). The first documentation of the Gebling sites dates back to 1284. It is assumed that the name originates either from the colour of the soil or from the yellow autumn leaves (as in Cote d’Or). The partly-overlapping terraces are up to 700 metres (3,000 feet) long and are south-facing. The soil consists of loess over massive conglomerate rocks in the subsoil, on which the vines Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Blauburgunder (Pinot noir) are cultivated at a slope inclination of up to 45%. The wines from Gebling are characterized by their particular minerality and expression – but despite their high ripeness levels, they are never heavy.
Schnabel vineyard |1.4 hectares (4 acres). The Schnabel site is located east of Rohrendorf, and in fact, faces east as well. The upper layer of soil consists mainly of loess, while the subsoil is stony conglomerate. Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc are cultivated here. The wines from the Schnabel show an extremely high maturity.
Wolfsgraben vineyard | 2.5 ha (7 acres). The nine terraces of the site Wolfsgraben (“rift valley of the wolves”) are, as the name suggests, situated in a rift valley extending from west to east. The deep loess soil suits Grüner Veltliner, which owing to the somewhat cooler climate here produces light, very fruity wines with spicy qualities.
Apetlon vineyards Neusiedlersee | With an altitude of only 114 metres (374 feet), Apetlon in the Seewinkel, Neusiedlersee (Burgenland) is the lowest spot in Austria. At the same time, the region has the most days of sunshine in the country (2,000 hours). Because the climate of this region is influenced by Lake Neusiedl, even various Mediterranean fruits and vegetables prosper here. And Nikolaus Moser’s ancestors had recognized that these conditions are ideal, particularly for growing grapes for red and sweet wines. The Moser Family has cultivated vineyards in Apetlon since 1960. The soils consist of deep “Tschernosem” (black earth), with parts heavily laced with gravel – which can radiate heat well after sunset. A high proportion of humus is typical for all sites. The estate’s 27 hectares (67 acres) of vineyards are flat or only slightly undulated and, apart from the most important variety by far – the Blauer Zweigelt – they are also planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Every year Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Muskat Ottonel are vinified into dry white and well as dessert wines.
The vineyards in Apetlon are situated in the Lake Neusiedl National Park, a place with extremely rich flora and fauna. In 2006, a cooperation was established between the Sepp Moser estate, the WWF and the responsible representatives of the Lake Neusiedl National Park. Cover crops are sown, increasingly from local plants. In late summer, the employees of the estate will remove trees and shrubs (Russian olives, wild roses, etc.) from the steppes around the Lange Lacke lake, in order to recreate the original conditions and prevent an excessive growth of shrubs. In return, the National Park provides the estate with cuttings from these ecologically valuable lands. This organic material is full of rare wild herbs, some of which are highly aromatic. This is to be turned into special compost – made exclusively from plants – for the vineyards.
Fuchsenloch vineyard | 3 hectares (7 acres). The Fuchsenloch site is considered one of Apetlon’s best. Since 2003, these vineyards have been leased and planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Weissburgunder (Pinot blanc) and Sämling. The structure and complexity of the soils ensure the high quality of the grapes.
Hedwighof vineyard | 14 hectares (35 acres). Deep, dark topsoil, gravel in the sub-soil. Wines have a mild, salty touch. Planted with Zweigelt in 1970. Also planted here are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Hollabern vineyard | 10 hectares (25 acres). Since the mid-1990s, the Sepp Moser estate has leased these vineyards from the Apetlon parish. These are planted with Zweigelt, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Muskat Ottonel.
Biodynamic practices | Niki Moser told me (at Millésime Bio January 2012) that ‘Austria is a small wine producing nation and its wine had reached a technological ceiling. So more artisan methods like organics and biodynamics make sense.’
Niki Moser has always been interested in environmental protection and organic viticulture. However, the first book he had read on the subject by Maria Thun was quickly discarded. His scepticism towards the methods of moon-oriented farming was still too high. His attitude changed dramatically, however, in the year 2000, when he travelled with friends to Alsace. There he met Jean-Pierre Frick (Domaine Pierre Frick) and Marc Kreydenweiss (Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss), whose vineyards were the most beautiful and healthiest in the region – despite the extreme downy mildew (peronospera) that had occurred that year. When he returned from his journey, he passionately began to study the topic of biodynamics.
Niki Moser decided to trial biodynamics in the Wolfsgraben vineyard of 2.5 ha (7 acres). But in his second and third year, he had to learn the hard way. A massive infection with oidium (powdery mildew) caused a crop failure of around 30%. Nevertheless, he continued his project and, in 2001, converted vineyards in Apetlon (parts of the Hedwighof and Hollabern vineyards). At the beginning, he regularly telephoned Marc Kreydenweiss for advice.
Meanwhile, Michael Andert, the vineyard manager in Apetlon, had also become convinced about biodynamics, and the vineyards in both regions were gradually converted until the biodynamically cultivated area totalled 18 hectares (45 acres).
The two challenging vintages of 2004 and 2005 can in some respect be regarded as a touchstone, because heavy rainfalls at the end of the vegetation period and, above all, during the harvest, were the nightmare of every winemaker. But the biodynamically-run vineyards were already resistant and robust enough to remain healthy all by themselves, without any chemical protection against fungus infections. This experience ultimately convinced Niki Moser to convert the entire estate to biodynamics, which he did in 2005, initially with advice from Dr Andrew Lorand who Fred Loimer had suggested Niki contact.
Apart from basic biodynamic preparations like horn manure (500) and horn silica (501), two different types of compost are made for each terroir: horse (from the family stable), cow and sheep manure is used in Rohrendorf (Kremstal), while a mix of cow (steppe cattle) and horse manure is used in Apetlon (Neusiedlersee). There are two copper dynamisers of 150-litres and 200-litres. Plant-based sprays such as fennel oil extracts, various teas made from regional herbs like stinging nettle, common horsetail, dandelion, yarrow, sage, and others are applied as prevention and remedy against fungi. Sulphur and copper are also used as plant protectants.
Biodynamic certification | 2008 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification for both estates. 2018 Still Demeter certified.
Winery, winemaking | The grapes are harvested by hand, and are brought to the cellar of the Atrium House in Rohrendorf in Kremstal (the company has only one winery). The house was built by Lenz Moser III to look like an antique Roman house, complete with an atrium. It forms a covered courtyard covered with potted plants.
Wines from Rohrendorf, Kremstal
Blauburgunder, Gebling | Pinot noir.
Chardonnay, Schnabel | The Chardonnay vines have now been grafted to Gruner Veltliner, see below. The Chardonnay was oaked, and fermented in Ybbstaler barrels.
Grüner Veltliner, Breiter Rain | 2006 Fermented in large oak.
Grüner Veltliner, Fundamental | 2016 From Breiter Rain, Kremstal on loess. No added sulfites. Very good at the Demeter Austria tasting 2018.
Grüner Veltliner, Gebling | Said to be spicy, peppery. 2016 DAC Reserve Crushed, destemmed, pressed. Wild ferment in stainless steels. 8 months on fine lees in tank. 13 per cent alcohol. 1.5 g/l residual sugar. 4.4 g/l total acidity. 2016 Wild ferment. A little CO2. Clear, salty fruit at VINCE 2018.
Grüner Veltliner, Minimal | 2016 Picked late from two sites. 13.5% alcohol. Left on full lees in 300 litre barrels for one year. Racked of gross lees. Hand bottled off fine lees. No added sulfites. Very good at the Demeter Austria tasting, Vienna 26th February 2018.
Grüner Veltliner, Schnabel |The Gruner Veltliner vines were grafted onto existing Chardonnay which had been planted in 1989. The work was performed by a team of French experts via T-budding (93% of the vines grew on). 2005 Minimal The first Veltliner harvest here. ‘Minimal’ was made without any added sulfur dioxide.
Grüner Veltliner, Sepp
Grüner Veltliner, Von Den Terrassen | 2011 25,000 bottles. Hand picked. Pneumatic press. Steel. Wild yeast. Fermented at 20-22ºC as any cooler ‘and you end up with candied aromas which I want to avoid. You want to get the light, bone dry white whites with the typical spice from Kremstal. This wine can age 8-10 years,’ Niki Moser told me at Millésime Bio January 2012 (the wine tasted very elegant, mineral).
Grüner Veltliner, Wolfsgraben DAC
Riesling Von Den Terrassen
Sauvignon Blanc, Schnabel
Sauvignon Blanc, Süss, Ohne Sanctus | Niki Moser:”When we began harvesting the Sauvignon on November 18th, we didn’t expect a gradation in the range of a Beerenauslese (25.5° KMW/127°Oe). Therefore, we hadn’t informed the cellar inspector to confirm the “Prädikat”, that is, to give his stamp of approval. The wine is now sold as a sweet quality wine.”
Sauvignon Blanc, von den Terrassen, Kremstal | This was originally called ‘Atrium’ but in June 2005 Miguel Torres from Spain said he had registered the word “Atrium“ in 1997. So from 2005 this Sauvignon has been re-named after the terraced vineyards directly behind the family house – a house that Niki’s grandfather had built in the Roman Atrium style. Therefore the wine had been named “Atriumweingarten”, or “Atrium“, since 1991.
Wines from Apetlon, Neusiedlersee
Banfalu Red | 50% Blauer Zweigelt, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc.
Banfalu White | 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), 15% Muskat Ottonel.
Weissburgunder | Pinot Blanc.
Weissburgunder Beerenauslese | Pinot Blanc.
Weissburgunder Trockenbeerenauslese | Pinot Blanc.
Zweigelt Grosse Reserve | Old vine Zweigelt.
Zweigelt, Reserve | From the Hedwighof vineyard (see above). | 2015 Wild ferment in stainless steel. 20 days on skins. Aged 24 months in 225- and 500-litre oak. Bottled 09th August 2017. 13.5% alcohol. 1g/l residual sugar. 5.2 g-l total acidity. 2016 Clear, ripe, moreish, salty acidity (at VINCE 2018).
Weingut Sepp Moser
Untere Wienerstrasse 1, A-3495 Rohrendorf, Austria
Tel+43 (0)2732.705310 / Website www.sepp-moser.at
VINCE 2018 wine show in Budapest 05th April, ‘Biodynamic Pioneers’ masterclass by Monty Waldin.
Demeter Austria tasting, Vienna 26th February 2018.