This Article Contains
Martin Nigl & his son Martin Jr.
Crystalline and transcendent Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from a cold sliver of the Kremstal.
- Defined as very cold winters, hot, short, fairly rainy summers, with long, cool, dry autumns.
- Now: winters are usually not as cold, summers are much hotter, drought is a serious problem 4 or the last 5 years, autumns start later and are often much wetter than they used to be.
- There is a big diurnal shift (difference between day and night temperatures) starting in the fall. This extends the growing season and gives Austrian wines their signature balance of freshness and ripeness, opulence and grace.
- Kremstal especially is colder than the Wachau at night thanks to cool air coming down from the north, and the valley’s and surrounding forest. Warmth comes in the form of hot eastern gusts, helping to ripen the grapes and keep disease at bay.
- Cool climate wines are high in acid, low in alcohol, light in body, and often show a lot of mineral flavors rather than fruit.
- Usually white wines are made, but some light reds, like Pinot Noir can also ripen well.
- Warmer vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015 produce wines with lower acidity, higher alcohols, and richer fruit flavors.
- Cooler vintages: 2021, 2013, 2010, 2008 produce what are now considered “classic” cool-climate wines.
25 ha in Krems, geologically the same as Wachau, with a political border between them.
- Senftenberger Piri: South facing mica-schist, planted to both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. Very distinct wines.
- Senftenberger Hochäcker: Separated from the Pellingen vineyard by only a wall. Soils are mica-schist. High elevation, steep terraces, south, southwest facing. Home to incredible Riesling.
- Senftenberger Pellingen: Bedrock of mica-schist with 35-45 year old vines, more steep terraces not quite as high as Hochäcker, perfect for Grüner Veltliner.
- Rehberger Goldberg: Amphibolite soils (metamorphic rock) planted to Riesling. Cooler sight with more elegant wines.
- Grüner Veltliner:
- A true Austrian treasure. Grüner is rarely planted outside of its home country, but is revered the world over.
- Mainly grown in the Lower Austrian region (Niederösterreich) with some vines in northernmost Burgenland, it holds 30% of the country’s vineyard area.
- Grüner is dynamic making it known for easily quaffable fresh and fruity wines. But, it just as easily becomes Austria’s most famous long-lived, mineral-laden beauties and some delicious sekt (wine made with bubbles).
- Wines from Grüner Veltliner have continuously taken top marks in blind tastings against Chardonnay from Burgundy and California, displaying a richness and concentration sans the oak barrels its competitors rely on.
- Its flavors range from stone fruit, fresh pear, lemon, green herbs, arugula, and spicy white or black pepper. The best versions can age for decades and develop complex notes of honey, toast, chutney and wax.
- The King of White Grapes
- You’ll find it on the peaks of high, rocky, steep vineyards in the Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal.
- What they lack in vineyard area, these wines make up for in pure, clear, undeniable quality.
- The best examples show the beauty that can come from a perfect marriage: these wines bring the acidity of the Mosel, matched with the density of Alsacian Grand Crus, but are always dry and ready to age for decades.
- They often benefit from 5-10 years of bottle age, but your patience is greatly rewarded with a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures.
- Fruits span the rainbow depending on the site, style and vintage, from green melon, lime and herbs, yellow peaches and lemons, orange zest and marmalade, pink grapefruit, even a touch of cherry on occasion. But the real beauty lies in the non-fruit notes. Especially with age, you can get stony minerality, petrol, honey, toast, salt, marzipan and so much more.
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Far from its home in the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc has found a foothold in the rolling limestone hills of Styria with a few vineyards in Burgenland and the Niederösterreich (Lower Austria).
- Globally, consumers have divided this aromatic variety into two distinct styles: Sancerre and New Zealand.
- But what if I told you, there is more this grape can do? The loud varietal characters are present but are balanced with a clear sense of place, not piercingly green, or passion fruit laden, but delicate and mineral driven.
- Pinot Blanc / Weissburgunder
- The secret weapon Austrian whites.
- It was brought over with the Cisterian monks in the 10th century and is grown in small pockets in all the wine regions.
- Similar to Chardonnay, but with softer flavors and acidity.
- Makes great simple quaffing wines. But grown in the best plots it makes some of the most surprisingly concentrated and long lived wines in the country.
- It’s not exported often so bottles are hard to find outside of Austria, but not to be missed if you can lay your hands on one.
- The Hiedlers were the first to plant this in Kamptal in 1955.
- Another grape brought over by the Cistercian monks so it’s had a long time to make a home for itself.
- Grown across the country, it is made in styles that range from light, unoaked, and Chablisienne to big, broad and toasty.
- There are some beautiful examples, Burgenland, Vienna, Lower Austria and especially the Steiermark.
- No herbicides or insecticides
- Cover crops of legumes and herbs
- Avoids copper, which he considers detrimental to his vines’ vitality, and harmful to the soil.
Modern - Low Intervention
- Whole cluster pressing, never de-stems
- settles musts by gravity only
- Uses only ambient yeasts
- Almost exclusively in stainless steel
- Racks twice
- Never fines before bottling
A beautiful Kremstal estate at the end of a cool valley, surrounded by steep loess and rocky slopes. Only in its second generation of winemaking, after hundreds of years of vine growing. Father and son, Martin Sr. and Martin Jr. are quickly elevating their reputation around the world.
They have slowly expanded their holdings over 30 years. Replanting sites that were abandoned, rebuilding terraced walls by hand, and always improving farming and cellar work. They also renovated their 800 year old cellar, a perfect cold, dark environment to produce these incredible wines.
A tasting at the winery floored us with a kaleidoscopic array of flavors across the line up of intense and concentrated wines. The aged bottles were magical. Martin Jr's recent influence has pushed the wines towards more elegance and freshness with their Kremstal Grüner Veltliner, a perennial staff favorite.
Nigl, Brut de Brut, NV $38.99 $34.31
"CH, PN Zwei – three years on lees, 17 & 18 base April 2023 – this is very grape-y, fruit and welches, not so much autolytic character, but this is probably from the very recent disgorgement. It is a little more on the fruit side and missing a little bit the elegance of both Gobelsburg and BRundlmayer now for the same price. This really reminds me of a wisteria kind of floral element. Very dry. Most of this is sold in the restaurant so they don’t need the Reserve Grosse Reserve kind of appellation system." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Gelber Muskateller Eiswein, 2019 (375ml) $84.99 $74.79
"First vintage that has ever been done. 2019 pretty hot flowering, loose clusters and this is easier for Botrytis, which this variety is always getting. Picked December 13th. This is super, very aromatic and pretty fresh, 120g RS" — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben Kremstal DAC, 2022 $44.99 $39.59
"100% from Weinselberg in Krems 45-70 years old, south facing lower altitude. Primary rock area, changing to loess. This is more tropical and carries a bit of fruit sweetness that reads as some RS paired with a mineral kind of core here, more fruit driven, minerality is here on the back half. More concentration than Piri and feels more complete." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Eiswein, 2018 (375ml) $48.99 $43.11
"This has some mature aromas, but salable and very fresh." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Freiheit, 2021 $21.99 $19.35
"There is a very peppery element here that pops in the mid pal and shows this kind of floral character, meadowy. I really like the second half of that wine and the interplay between the concentration of these peppery/floral elements." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Herzstück vom Kirchberg 1 ÖTW Kremstal DAC, 2022 $89.99 $79.19
"This is the slope up to the church. This doesn’t smell richer; the nose is all loess-y, malty goodness. On the Pal it has a bigger and richer fruit component, a little more alc and a bit more viscosity. A little touch of acacia honey clover, more south east exposition, protected from the cold winds, so gets a little bit more alcohol. This is very good. These wines don't have the detail or precision of Alzinger or Brundy, but they have a loveable kind of fruit character."
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Piri Kremstal DAC, 2022 $30.99 $27.27
"Young vines on primary rock Much more concentration with a little more in that kind of gooseberry fruit character. There is more body here in terms of viscosity, but good freshness. A more rustic kind of flavor here than at Alzinger." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Privat Pellingen 1 ÖTW Kremstal DAC, 2022 $77.99 $68.63
"500M down the valley, 30% from the bottom is the Pellingen, more concentration more soil od Hohacker vineyard, Riesling is planned at the top like Heiligenstein and Lamm – this has a very wide and mouth filling kind of fruit, there is that loessy starchiness and the feeling of a hit of minerality, but the texture and riper fruit are at the moment, dominant. Not too much alcohol this year, but lots of concentration. This is a very good edition of this wine." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Riesling Goldberg 1 ÖTW Kremstal DAC, 2022 $89.99 $79.19
"Very aromatic, gooseberry with lots of acidity, mineral, freshness, length and concentration." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Riesling Piri Kremstal DAC, 2022 $48.99 $43.11
"Less ripe, overt, cooler and a bit more green and gooseberry, not pepper/green-green, but a cooler fruit character. Less acidity than 21, making the wine a bit more open, lilac and very floral. 2021 had more concentration and maturity but also higher acidity. This is very fresh and lighter in tone than the 21 vintage of this wine. It feels very floral and bright." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Riesling Privat Hochäcker 1 ÖTW Kremstal DAC, 2022 $98.99 $87.11
"This is deeper, has a little bit of the creaminess and riper character, this is even, driving and linear. I like this, it really doesn’t feel like the wine is overfilled though it is quite BIG for a Riesling here and the volume of fruit sensation feels very loud, but this is incredibly young." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines
Nigl, Riesling Urgestein Kremstal DAC , 2022 $35.99 $31.67
Nigl, Sekt Rosé, NV $38.99 $34.31
"18-19 base, disgorged April 23 disgorgement. – fresh raspberry Zw, PN, Merlot (50%) which is planted in Kogel, with some gravel. In former times this was GV, but there was too much alcohol. More fruit is dominant this year, more red fruit." — Gabriel Clary, Skurnik Wines