Schloss Gobelsburg Celebrates 850 Years
Michael Moosbrugger has become one of the most respected players in the Austrian wine industry since taking the helm of the legendary Schloss Gobelsburg in 1996. As the estate celebrates its 850th anniversary, Quench caught up with Moosbrugger to chat about the estate, its winemaking direction, and developments in the country’s appellation system, including the (relatively) new “Districtus Austriae Controllatus” (DAC) designation of which he had a significant role in crafting.
Quench: 850 years is a pretty long run. What would you consider to be “landmark” years for the estate?
Michael Moosbrugger: Well, we don’t know much about the time before 1171, even though winemaking at Schloss Gobelsburg started with the Romans. I personally I believe wine making history goes back beyond the third century AD. In 1171 the monastic orders planted our first vineyards. In 1740 the castle, additional vineyards and the cellar in Gobelsburg were added to the estate. In 1958 Father Bertrand took over as administrator, and in 1996 I took on the responsibility of maintaining the heritage.
Quench: Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are obviously Austria’s (and your) most important varietals, are there others that Schloss Gobelsburg is cultivating (or considering)?
Michael Moosbrugger: We are experimenting with new grape varieties, mainly those related to GV and Riesling. But before we implement them in our production, we first have to prove that they are able to reflect the typical style of the area. The important aspect is that the wines made with them reflect the typicity of the region, then we can determine if these new varieties will have a permanent place in our production going forward.
Quench: Has there been an increased focus on red wine production in Austria as there has been in Germany?
Michael Moosbrugger: I would say, no. The reason is that it does not really make sense to produce more red wine if you do not have the appropriate vineyards and climatical situation. The biggest part of Austria’s wine production area is definitely suited to white wine production. Two-thirds of our vineyards are be suited to white wine production.
We as an estate produce red wine because a share of our vineyards are based on river sedimentation material, much like in the Rhône Valley. These vineyards have good drainage and dry conditions over the vegetation period. Here we are favouring red wines based on the Pinot family, such as Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt.
Quench: How does the DAC designation simplify the classification system for both producers and consumers?
Michael Moosbrugger: DAC aims to codify the use of names of origin. Origin is something that does not belong to one producer, but to the whole community, and therefore represents a collective idea about the style, personality and expression of wine that carries a specific designation. The task of the regional committee interprofessional is to consider the structure and the typicity of wines that represent a specific origin. In terms of Austrian regions, there is a three tiered structure for wines of origin: wines of the region, wines of a village, wines of single vineyards.
This structure, in combination with a clear profile for each category, simplifies the whole appellation system because it introduces limitations to wine styles for the typical wines produced in each region. Before the introduction of the DAC, producers were more focusing on selling wines of different grape varieties by also adding a name of origin. With DAC, the main focus for producers, trade and consumers is not the variety anymore, but the typical expression of the area. This is why the DAC designation lets the consumer know that the wine being purchased represents the quintessential wine style of the region. It reduces the guesswork when making a selection.
Schloss Gobelsburg Domæne Gobelsburg Rosé Niederösterreich Trocken 2020 ($25)
Fresh, forward aromas of rhubarb, strawberry, red apple and white honey give way to zesty, beautifully balanced palate that delivers a wonderful tapestry of flavours, weaving together nuances of cherry, strawberry and citrus, with a hint of watermelon on the finish.
Schloss Gobelsburg Domæne Gobelsburg Riesling Kamptal DAC Trocken 2020 ($27)
Displaying a richness and viscosity level not typically associated with this varietal, this Riesling offers up a veritable fruit salad on the nose. Tropical fruit, lime, slate, pear, elderflower, and stone fruit are all components of the engaging aromatic profile. Round and harmonious in the mouth, with flavours that lean towards mineral, citrus, and sweet pear. The long finish sports a gentle suggestion of white pepper.
Schloss Gobelsburg Domæne Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal DAC Trocken 2020 ($23)
A textbook, spicy/flinty Grüner that also shows some citrus, white flower blossom, ripe pear, and a hint of green apple on its expressive nose. Racy, flinty, and ultra-fresh in the mouth, it sports a vibrant spine of crisp acidity that beautifully balances the lime and white pepper nuances. The finish is long, with suggestions of ripe peach and vanilla.
Schloss Gobelsburg Ried Steinsetz Grüner Veltliner Kamptal DAC Trocken 2019 ($46)
From vines planted in the 1970s, this single-vineyard Grüner sports a complex array of aromatic nuances. The typical white pepper/mineral notes are enhanced by suggestions of apricot, grapefruit, honey, and some underlying herbal elements suggesting basil/fennel. Elegant, subtle, and eminently enjoyable now, however, a few more years in the bottle will undoubtedly allow this superbly-crafted wine to show even greater complexity and character.