2022 Weingut Bernard Ott, Grüner Veltliner “Am Berg” Wagram DAC, Austria.
The Am Berg Grüner Veltliner from Ott is fresh, crisply dry and pure with a zesty personality, showing classic Kaffir lime and Meyer lemon, white peach and quince fruits, along with bitter almond, green herbs, a touch of white pepper and wet stones accents in a fine lighter framed wine. This wine, made from organic grapes sourced in a variety of vineyards, all on the region’s classic loess soils and hilly sites along the Danube, was all stainless steel fermented and aged to promote freshness of details. Now, imported by Skurnik Wines, it is easier to find these wines and I’m enjoying them more regularly in recent vintages especially, they are no longer hard to find here in states, which makes it easier to recommend them. Bernard Ott, based in Austria’s Wagram DAC, is still a revolutionary figure in the region, making a collection of outstanding wines from an area that doesn’t get the attention it maybe deserves and his Am Berg Grüner is one of the best buys you can get. Wagram, as I’m reminded of when I ever check out the Ott lineup, is one of Austria’s 17 official wine regions, and one of eight located in the state of Niederösterreich. This distinct viticultural area, again as mentioned, lies just east of the famous vineyards of Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, stretching about 30 or so miles from Krems in the west to Klosterneuburg, just on the outskirts of Vienna. Bernard Ott, along with Johannes Hirsch, Fred Loimer, and a group of like-minded producers, formed Respekt, an Austrian wine producers organization committed to green and biodynamic practices that go a long way to preserving the soils and environment.

The Ott family, I learned, has been growing and producing wine in the Wagram region since 1889, in what used to be called “Donauland” until a name-change in 2007, on the banks of the Danube River. This area is almost immediately downriver from the capital Vienna, in northeastern Austria, it sometimes gets overlooked, but has a long history of producing quality wines, especially Grüner Veltliner. Bernhard Ott is the fourth generation vigneron of his family, and according to the winery, he has managed it since1993 when he took over from his father. Like many of his age he was only passionate about producing wines of the highest quality and immediately Bernhard set about on his quest to prove that elegant and long lived wines could be produced from Grüner Veltliner grown on his loess based soils. Originally Bernhard replaced all the old wooden casks with stainless steel and began working the vineyards to promote depth of fruit and purity in the wines. In 2018, after nearly 30 years after switching all vinification and élevage to steel, Ott began working with varying sizes of Stockinger Austrian oak fuders which are used for his upper end cru bottlings. Ott’s importer Skurnik wines also notes, that In 2004 Bernhard began composting, using organic cow manure from a friend in the region to improve the health of the soils. It’s been noted too, that In 2006 he took a trip to the legendary biodynamic property, Domaine La Romanée Conti in Vosne, Burgundy to see how things were done there and after a marathon tasting in the cellars with Aubert de Villaine, Bernhard committed to biodynamic viticulture. There’s a bunch of great offerings here at Ott, including the Cru Grüners, with the Rosenberg being my favorite, along with this Am Berg, and the brilliantly vivid Rosalie Zweigelt Rosé, all worth chasing down.
($29 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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