Weingut Werlitsch Opok Morillon 2019

Type: White
Country: Austria
Region: Steiermark
Grape Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Viticulture: Natural Wine | Biodynamic | Certified Organic

Climate: Mediterranean with continental influences
Terroir: Vines grow on chalky soils and insanely steep vineyards
Winemaking: Fermented with indigenous yeasts in open oak vats. Aged for 24 months in 3000 litres vats. Subsequently, it remains in the bottle for 12 months before being released into the market. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and without added sulphites

Color: Light golden
Nose: Aromas of ripe apples and quince on the nose, accompanied by notes of thyme, orange peel, lime and mineral nuances
Palate: Dense on the palate with the present acidity of ripe grapefruit. A long finish Chardonnay with saline nuances

About the Winery:
In today’s time when natural wines are produced almost anywhere, it’s all too easy to forget how the revival of this ancient winemaking technique and rise to popularity came about: first, there were a few visionaries along the Italy-Slovenia border (Gravner in 1997), a few more in the Loire (Joly) and, yes, another few in Austria’s Styria, the wine region bordering Slovenia and one that is known for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, the latter being called Morillon locally.

One such pioneering soul was Ewald Tscheppe. When Ewald started experimenting with skin fermentation, keeping his wines on the lees for many years and reducing sulfur to a bare minimum, and then skipping it altogether, his ideas seem rather out there.

Ewald works 8 hectares of steep and rolling hills surrounding his winery. His system is simple: he divides his vineyards into three categories, with the vines from the bottom of the hill going into the Ex Vero I cuvee, the vines on the slopes going into Ex Vero II, and the steepest and therefore most austere parts of the vineyard are reserved for Ex Vero III.

Ewald works his vineyards following Demeter principles of biodynamic farming. Having a lively and healthy balance between insects, microcosms in the soils and plants creates the kind of balance that is crucial to produce grapes of the highest quality,

The Werlitsch winery sits at the bottom of steep vineyards that surround the winery like an amphitheatre. Rolling hills provide austere soils and strong winds close to the ridge, while deeper and more fertile soils can be found at the bottom, near the winery. Owner Ewald Tscheppe decided to make Ex Vero III from those highest elevations and the more fertile soils would produce Ex Vero I, leaving the middle part of the hill to the Ex Vero II. The vines grow on marl known locally as Opok. Ewald’s wines are expressive and fascinating cuvées of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (most of the time, anyway). High acidity from early harvest is tamed with extended time on the fine lees in used oak barrels of various origins. Ewald’s skin-fermented wines, the Freude (joy) and Glueck (good fortune) are bottled in clay and will have fermented on their skins anywhere from a week to a full year.