And Josef "Pepi" Umathum is not shy about it, he begins: “Our wines are food for the soul…” and goes on to furthermore: “…these are liquid folk-tales.” Interest and attention focus upon the autochthonous red varieties of Burgenland: Sankt Laurent, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt, cultivated in close harmony with the land.
Umathum began to practice biodynamic viticulture starting with the 2005 vintage, and has since been certified by Demeter. Biodynamics is perhaps the first modern ecological farming system.
Organically maintained, its innovation—as applied to winemaking—treats the entire culture of the vine from digging to bottling as a unified organism. It has much in common with other organic systems, but adds its own slant on fermented and mineral compost additives used during the growing season, and governs itself by a carefully observed astronomic calendar.
The biodynamic system grew out of lectures on agriculture given in Silesia by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, and gained many adherents in the wine-world during the last two decades. A recent count of biodynamic wine estates turned up over 500 names, including some of the most famous in Burgundy, Germany and California. Neither fad nor fashion, it just works.
Umathum has become known over the past few years for just plain getting more different rhythms, tunes and textures out of the good old Zweigelt bush than nearly anybody. He does this by means of extraordinarily careful and painstaking selection when planting his vineyards, watchful control of the crop-size, and then detailed hand harvesting and selection. The wines then ferment with indigenous yeast, and are elaborated in large wooden barrels fashioned from Austrian oak.
And although the estate is located in Frauenkirchen, in the Neusiedlersee region of Burgenland, Umathum also cultivates very important vineyards across the lake in the Neusiedlersee Hügelland municipality of Jois—Kirschgarten and Unter den Terrassen, where his pinot noir grows in chalky clay and fossil limestone.
Wines by Umathum
Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and St Laurent. A delicacy and grace that one wouldn’t expect from what looks to be a somewhat rustic blend.
Fruit and pepper, cherries and spice all wrapped into a mild and full-bodied finish.
White wine with bright yellow colour, aromas of Roses and Honey with exotic impressions of banana, on the palate mild, elegant and full bodied.
Fresh cheery noses with spice on the nose as well as the palate. Good structure and fine tannins with a mild finish.