Fine Austrian fizz from Fred Loimer

A treat for both the wine anorak and the hedonist

You might know the name Loimer from their still wines, and their labels with the distinctive little (clearly male) figure on them. Fred Loimer, whose production has long been organic and, since 2006, also certified biodynamic, presented his new range of quality sparkling wines to the world via an online tasting this week.

Austria is hardly synonymous with world class sparkling wine, but the wine authorities have, since 2015, provided a framework for more ambitious producers to distinguish what should be higher quality wines.

Sekt is the generic name for a sparkling wine made in any way across both Germany and Austria. The 3-tier structure for Austrian Sekt with PDO stipulates:

  • Klassik – tank or bottle fermented, but with a minimum of 9 months on the lees
  • Reserve – bottle fermented, with at least 18 months on the lees
  • Grosse Reserve – bottle fermented; at least 30 months on the lees

There are other regulations governing where the grapes must come from, maximum yields etc.

Having got that rather dry (but quite important) bit of wine regulation out of the way, it’s time to talk about the wines.

Fred’s wines join in at the Reserve level – he says that the Klassik category is for the big houses and negociants. Something that all his Sekts share is low (or no) dosage: the warm summers of a continental climate help to raise the ripeness levels of the grapes, so this level of dryness absolutely works here.

The Extra Brut Reserve (NV) is a clean as a whistle introduction to the Loimer style: precise and pristine, without sacrificing personality. It’s a blend of 36% Zweigelt (a red grape), 35% Pinot Noir, 19% shared between Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, plus 10% of Grüner Veltliner. The base vintage is 2017 and (as the informative back label tells you) it was disgorged in July this year.

Those 3 years on lees give a distinct autolytic, brioche character with some nice ripe-feeling baked apple (and apple skin) fruit. The dosage is just 2g/l, so it definitely feels dry, with savoury biscuit flavours.

I can feel my wine anorak rustling in anticipation at being able to compare Loimer’s two vintage Sekts – both 2016, one Blanc de Blancs from Langenlois in Kamptal; the other Blanc de Noirs from Gumpoldskirchen, in the Thermenregion south of Vienna.

Langenlois Grosse Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2016 is another blend, but this time involving grapes which are all permitted in Champagne: 77% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Blanc and 4% Pinot Gris. The light, crystalline soils here influence the style of the wine. At least as important is Fred Loimer’s approach to winemaking: after spontaneous first fermentation with natural yeasts, he keeps the wine on its lees for 10 months before the blend is bottled and put into the cellar in September of the year following the harvest. This “slow wine” approach leads to a layering of flavours in the final wine, adding texture and interest.

The Blanc de Blancs is a charming and seductive wine, relaxed and easy-going, but with the hallmark of purity and precision, underlined by the zero dosage. My pictures don’t do it justice, but the wine is a luminous bright gold, with a little hint of smoky reduction on the nose, joined by preserved lemon and a whiff of tobacco leaf on the palate. The acidity is very finely structured and unobtrusive and the mousse gives it a silky mouthfeel.

Gumpoldskirchen Grosse Reserve Blanc de Noirs 2016 is quite a contrast, made from 100% Pinot Noir from the limestone soils of Gumpoldskirchen. If you’ve ever tried a grower Champagne from Verzenay on the Montagne de Reims, you’ll find yourself nodding in recognition as you taste. While the Blanc de Blancs is an overt charmer already, this still seems tight with a big mineral impact that you can feel as well as taste on the finish, which combines with the acidity to pack quite a punch. Along the way there is spice, toastiness and hints of truffle.

As well as 10 months on the lees, oak barrels also feature post first fermentation. This has spent 44 months on the lees and is zero dosage.

I admire and appreciate this now, but would love to try this again in two or three years. Fred finds that 5 years on lees plus 3 on cork seems to be the optimum combination.

Something to put in my 2024 year planner.

These wines are available direct from the winery Loimer :

Extra Brut Reserve NV – €22

Langenlois Blanc de Blancs 2016 – €35

Gumpoldskirchen Blanc de Noirs 2016 – €35

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