Southern Styria has recently been able to enjoy some very nice vintages in terms of quality, but 2019 is likely to top the previous years once again. If you look back at the wines from 2017 and 2018, you can get the impression that the quality of the wines is not as good as it used to be. Tement is actually difficult to achieve, but when you then taste your way through 2019, you realise that it can become even more complex, even more elegant and even more lively. 2019 is something like the quintessence of the two previous years.
Course of the year
After a moderate winter, the year began in the vineyard with an ideally timed budbreak between the end of April and the beginning of May. May was warm, there were no frosts and the mood was good until June, when a lot of rain came and the impression was that the whole month would remain wet.
The mushroom pressure increased rapidly and the whole team was working non-stop. It was not until mid-August that things really relaxed, because only then was it consistently warm. Whatever happens before then, the real quality of a vintage is only decided in autumn, and in mid-September there were beautiful grapes hanging on the vine. But the first week of the harvest "was a pain in the ass", as Armin Tement put it: "Rain and wetness challenged us. We had to cut away a lot in the vineyard. After this modest start, however, we were really lucky with the weather for a long time." For an autumn in southern Styria, the temperatures remained decidedly low. At night they were around 2 °C, during the day it was hardly more than 15 °C. As a result, the acidity levels remained perfect until 19 October, when the last grapes arrived at the winery.
The vintage in the cellar
Because of the almost perfectly high acidity levels, the Tements decided to play a little more with the phenolic structure of the wines; in other words, they extended the maceration times, in some cases significantly. Maceration times bring more grip and firmness as well as structure to the wines, but they eat up acidity. In 2019, the Tements were able to afford six instead of the usual three hours for Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, and even 18 instead of 12 hours for Sauvignon Blanc - with destemmed grapes.
As usual, the individual batches were pressed slowly for around four hours and the wines were put into the individual containers after settling. No wine was sulphurised before filling. There was only a small amount of filling sulphur shortly before.
Before that, however, the wines were allowed to remain on the fine lees for around two years, where they also underwent malolactic fermentation. Almost all wines were matured in larger or smaller perennial and mostly neutral wooden barrels. Only the Gelber Muskateller matured only in stainless steel.
The characteristics of the 2019 vintage at Tement
When Armin Tement compares the last three vintages, he likes to start with the showpiece wine: "With the Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 Brutally straight with clear acidity and also present tannin structure. 2018 had much more melt and fruit because the grapes had a higher ripeness in them. 2019 has a slightly higher acidity than 2017, the tannins are as severe as in 2018, but the 2019s show much more refinement, have more elegance, they are more complex and playful than the other two vintages."
This typicity tends to run through all the wines, whereby the Grassnitzberg can be clearly emphasised once again, as the cool site has produced a very linear, light, almost wiry wine, even for 2019, but one in which immense power and depth lie dormant. The Morillon Zieregg is hardly inferior to the Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc in its complexity and barrenness, while the Morillon Rossberg and the Morillon Sulz already seem much more inviting. This openness, the slight warmth and the more intense fruit can also be found in the Weißburgunder Sulz.
Outstanding examples of the class that Welschriesling can achieve are the Veithansl and even more so the Vine. What character wines! Here, the maceration period becomes even more obvious, because the Welsch shows it with a clear phenolic and a certain vin naturel character. At the same time, there is a lot of saltiness - a result of the longer maceration time, which positively characterises all wines and charges them with great drinking flow. The Gelber Muskateller and the Gewürztraminer are also more than remarkable and definitely worth discovering. Both are already real fun when young. But that is only the surface. One notices the potential that still lies dormant in them, but which will easily carry the wines over the next ten years with increasing complexity. Finally, the Tements present a parcel wine from the Slovenian part of the winery. The Ciringa Pruh (pronounced pruch) from pure coral limestone was put into barrels for 66 months after an equally long maceration period and shines with vibrant energy, deep fruit, fine spice and the overtone of flint typical of a Ciringa.
Exclusive: «Time Play 4»
Finally, there is the wine from the Zeitspiel series bottled exclusively for our German importer to report. The Time play 4 is the next Sauvignon Blanc late release after Zeitspiel 2. While Zeitspiel 2 was something like an estate wine late release from 2017, Zeitspiel 4 is a long-stored local wine from the Muschelkalk terroir of Ehrenhausen. The 2017 vintage, described above as very straight, benefits immensely from four years of ageing in wood, stainless steel and bottle. The pure and linear remains, but the immense charm is added, which a Sauvignon Blanc from southern Styria can undoubtedly possess.
Text and wine expertise: Christoph Raffelt