Seldom do you come across a series of wines that is both so very different and yet astonishingly good. Naturally-inspired wines with little-to-no winery refinement are rare finds and many of them are very….let’s call them specialist.
Natural wine is likely to remain a niche product for the remainder of its recent spell of popularity but the individual elements used in the creation of natural wine are most probably going to remain: new/rediscovered methods of producing wine to bring out certain elements of flavour and character: zero refinement, longer time on the skins, a longer period on the lees, less filtration, reduction of sulphates in the final wine, aging in clay amphora rather than wood or steel: these practises look set to remain and have revolutionised white wine in central Europe.
One series of wines heavily influenced by such practises are the NUMEN wines of Johannes Zillinger. The Austrian winemaker produces a handful of wines, all of which are very much in the spotlight in the German-speaking world: from the entry-level VELUE series, right up to the frankly experimental REVOLUTION wines, the entire portfolio is an attractive and appealing set-up.
There are four NUMEN wines and I have tried all of them except for the Fumé Blanc, something I attempt to change at the ProWein expo in a few months time. Below are my tasting notes on the other three wines in the series.
Johannes Zillinger NUMEN Riesling 2012
This pale, lemon yellow wine is clean and explicitly delicate on the nose but with a promising lemon juice aroma coupled with fresh, just-ripe, yellow fruit: yellow plums, apricots and a touch of quince against a mineral background with plenty of wet rock and fresh herbs. On the palate, the wine starts with an electric zing: the freshly-pressed lemon juice coupled with the sweeter edge of lime and this leads onto a thick, however remarkably elegant body of apricot and yellow plum. Perhaps a touch of litchi makes it into the show and the whole thing is rounded off by a strong but, by no means harsh, finish bringing the freshness and completing the clean-cut approach to the wine. Fittingly, this Austrian Riesling is bone-shatteringly dry furthermore accentuating the delicate, razor-sharp refreshing character of this young wine.
Johannes Zillinger NUMEN Grüner Veltliner 2013
With a deepset golden-yellow appearance in the glass, this Veltliner is rewardingly zesty on the nose: plenty of lemon peel with a sense of stone fruit lurking behind: white nectarines and petals hint at dried fruits. On the attack the wine is lead by a wonderful lemon and gooseberry feel: this moves into a clean-cut body with a remarkably crisp and slightly sour finish – the wines changes over time and eventually the racing acidity is tamed by an ever-expanding sense of fruit. Clean and very dry, the Veltliner taste only comes through after half an hour in the open bottle: a touch of pepper joins the show but nothing too dramatic.
Johannes Zillinger NUMEN Chardonnay 2013
This Orange wine is one of the easiest drinking oranges I have tasted. Initially quite hard and a tad closed, after a brief spell in the decanter, the wine impresses just as much, if not a tad more, than the above-mentioned Grüner Veltliner. Produced in much the same way, however without the addition of sulphates, this is a pure, natural wine, with little-to-no cellar work at all. To start with is the unmistakable nuance of curry plant, cumin, aniseed and a whole host more. This, paired with a ripe sense of orange juice and a touch of caramel reminds of Seville marmalade and candied peel.
After a while in the decanter though, the typical white wine notes pick up: rather a richer, riper take on chardonnay than the green-defined wines of Chablis, this is full in character, hints at yoghurt but never goes there and eventually lands on a pure, clearly-structured wine with decent, ripe cooking apples and a beautiful background hint of Calvados. Bone dry, lusciously long finish.
Finding these wines where you live
The VELUE series from Johannes Zillinger is available in the UK via Winestyle (click here). The wines are widely available both in store and online in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Bliss Wine is the US partner for Johannes Zillinger, click here for more information. For more information on finding these wines where you live, please get in touch and I will assist you in doing so.