• Bona Fide Naturalist: Werlitsch vom Opok

    Bona Fide Naturalist: Werlitsch vom Opok

    Wineries like Werlitsch in Austria's Styria region perpetuate those dreamy biodynamic farm vibes we've seen springing up in Eastern Europe. Sure, the scenes are breathtaking and make for a good selling point, but what winemaker Ewald Tscheppe produces from his opok-rich soils restores our faith in the far reaches of natural wine.

    Our team once blind-tasted the Ex Vero I together. It had a matchstick quality on the nose, followed by white florals, fresh citrus, coconut milk-like texture, and electric acidity on the palate. Still, the wine's focal point was its lively energy and slightly waxy texture. I guessed it was from the Jura, thinking it had a Burgundy gone rogue feeling, but it turned out to be a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon (aka Chardonnay). Ex Vero is a three-part series showcasing the varied levels of altitude and soil composition on Werlitsch's steep hillside. These vines grow on limestone and clay soil rich in minerals and marine fossils, which locals refer to as opok. Frankly, the wines are unlike anything you'll taste from Austria or elsewhere.

    Ewald and his friends discovered biodynamics while studying wine in the early 1980s. As a true devotee of the naturalist movement, he believes that nature always does it better—for him, that means gravity-flow winemaking, natural yeast, no temperature control, and no sulfur. In 2004, Ewald began to apply biodynamics to his family's estate, which also inhabits fruit trees, wild herbs, vegetables, and forests.

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    Posted by Sydney Love