Back from Styria 🇦🇹

There’s something mythic about Styria, Austria’s southern edge on the border of Slovenia.
I just got back from a trip here and can’t stop thinking about it – or its wines. Wildly green, steep sloped and (as it’s one of the wettest growing regions in Europe) consistently dotted with pillows of fog in each valley. Its mogul-like landscape is carved up by different soil types; its growing season an unlikely mix of cool and long.
All of which you feel in the final wines, which are aromatic and soil driven.
As it's fresh on my mind, I rounded up some of my favorite names and wines below along with some quick what-to-know about this epic area. There's truly something for everyone: the region's best make everything from 00 macerated wines to OG classics. And, incredibly, they’re all farmed impeccably (we note the farming for each producer below). Prost!
- Chris


Though there's been viticulture here for 2,000 years (!) Styria's sub-appellations have only recently become official designations.

The three major growing areas are Weststeiermark, Südsteiermark and Vulkanland. We note where each producer below has their estate.

SÜDSTEIERMARK: The largest and best known area, it has distinct pockets of limestone, schist and opok soils. Each comes through distinctly in the wines: limestone showing its brisque nature, while opok & schist produce more powerful, fruit-forward expressions of the same varietals.

VULKANLAND: Aptly named for is extinct volcanos and the soil that comes with them. It's also the warmest zone making flinty, brooding wines of great agility.

WESTSTEIERMARK: The smallest and only one defined by schist and gneiss, it's the only zone better known for red varietals than white.

Weingut Tement's Grand Cru Zieregg 📷 via Chris Leon


Südsteiermark, Demeter Cert. Biodynamic

A visit to Tement in Styria is like a visit to Pascal Cotat in Sancerre – i.e. few visits are more important to the area. The heart of the estate, famous for its grand cru Zieregg vineyard (above), sits on top of a limestone-ridden coral reef which is impossible not to taste in their pulsing renditions of Sauvignon Blanc.

3rd gen Armin Tement runs the estate, shepherding the vineyards into organics in ‘05 and eventually biodynamics in ‘22. All of the wines are hand harvested, natively fermented (and go through malo naturally), and made without sulfur until bottling. A legendary estate whose wines have never been better.

2023 Weingut Tement Kalk & Kreide Sauvignon Blanc: The entry blend of sites is the zesty, pithy way to introduce yourself to Tement.

2021 Weingut Tement Grassnitzberg Sauvignon Blanc Erste STK Lage: One of the most eye opening wines I had one my trip. High wire wine thats more about limestone than anything else. Tremendous.

2018 Weingut Tement 'IZ' Ried Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve: An experimental cuvee off of their famed Zieregg vineyard. It saw 100 days on skins before aging on the fine lees for 42 months.

The cellar at Tement is built into the ancient coral reef on which it sits 📷 via Chris Leon


Südsteiermark, Organic

Wohlmuth sits in the very distinct northernmost part of Südsteiermark, the Kitzeck-Sausal zone. Unlike the rest of the area (and Tement above), the soil is pure slate which, in my opinion, makes the most profound Riesling in the region.

Wohlmuth only bottles by single vineyards (all organically grown, some which are at a 90 degree aspect) and hand harvests all of their fruit. Everything they make is stony and driven, but I couldn’t help highlight their impressive Rieslings which are bracingly dry and delicious.

2022 Wohlmuth Riesling Kitzeck-Sausal: the village level riesling is a stony, fresh wine displaying the slate character of their zone.

2022 Wohlmuth Riesling Ried Steinriegl Strohbart: Steinriegl “Strawbeard”is an exceptional vineyard. It holds the highest wine classification in Austria, “Riedenwein”. This is bc of its altitude and unique proximity to the Alps. The vineyard is severely cold in the evening which results in powerful, detsailed. aromatic The soils are extremely meager, red, phyllitic slate.

Südsteiermark, Demeter Biodynamic

Arguably the most refined wines made in a natural stye. They don’t shy from skin contact or elevage; no wine sees less than 18 months in old wood.

Andreas rarely uses sulfur but isn’t dogmatic as he uses a touch when-and-if it's needed. The labels reflect the diversity of life in his organic vineyards.
These are stunning, phenolic wines across the board. We just wish there were more!

2021 Tscheppe, Salamander (Chardonnay) Reserve one barrel of Salamander Chardonnay refused to go dry within the usual 18 months of elevage, so Andreas kept this in barrel an extra year to continue the fermentation.

2022 Tscheppe, Salamander (Chardonnay) His signature Chardonnay label which sees a slow pressing (giving it tremendous color) and 18months of elevbage.

2022 Tscheppe, Green Dragonfly Plus (Sauvignon Blanc) in the past plus has indicated a small amount of carbonitino (from the ‘21 vintage) but thats not the case this vintage. The one exception is with the Green Dragonfly Plus which had a second fermentation in bottle and bottled in crown cap.

2022 Tscheppe, Blue Dragonfly Plus (Sauvignon Blanc) the ‘plus’ of his famous Sauvignon Blanc bottling which, unlike the regular Dragonfly, sees 5g/SO2 at bottling

2022 Tscheppe, Blue Dragonfly (Sauvignon Blanc) the signature Sauvignon is pressed to 300-2000 liter 2-15 year and ages for 18 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered and w/o Sulfur

2022 Tscheppe, Butterfly Plus (Gelber Muskateller) Arguably the most ageable wine in the lineup as it has incredible phenolics alongside the RS you find in the ‘Plus’ wines.

Südsteiermark, Demeter Biodynamic

Members of our wine club Leon Circle will know how fond I am of this new-ish winery to the US. It's the work of third generation owner Tamara Kögl who works her family’s steeply sloped estate, which sits on a mix of sand and limestone.

The focus, like many of her neighbors, is on age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc which lives in old wood for as long as it takes to go dry (sometimes up to 2 years). Her long approach to aging is reflected in the intensely flavored, complex wines. I love both wines on offer right now, but would not sleep on the ‘17 which shows just how well these wines age.

2019 Weingut Kogl 'Niemandsland' Sauvignon Blanc, Sudsteiermark DAC, Austria the wine highlighted in the club! "No Man's Land" (Niemandsland) for the steep hillside of light marl/limestone soil on which this Sauvignon is grown with steady exposure to the sun. Hand harvested, native yeast fermentation, aged on the lees, part in large used oak barrels and part in stainless steel.

2017 Weingut Kogl 'Mantis' Sauvignon Blanc, Sudsteiermark DAC, Austria A special single vineyard wine thats aged fermented and aged in large Foudre. Textured, powerful wine thats showing the pedigree of the ‘17 vintage.

Südsteiermark, Demeter Biodynamic

In a similar vein to Tscheppe above (who’s the brother of Maria Muster 🙂) Muster expresses Styria through long elevage, maceration and an unfiltered approach to winemaking.

But, also like Tscheppe, the final wines are very fine. Luxurious even. The biodynamic estate dates back to 1792 and was taken over by Sepp in 2000.

2021 Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster Erde, Steiermark, Austria a blend of Styrias most noble two white varietals, Sauvignon and Morillon (chardonnay) which see a full year on the skins. A powerful, eye opening wine.

2021 Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster Sauvignon vom Opok Steiermark, Austria arguably the wine most core to the lineup, it sees a slow press before seeing almost *two years* of elevage.

2021 Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster 'Graf' Sauvignon Steiermark, Austria Graf references a portion of wines on silt and Limestone (as opposed to opok), making wines that are more aromatic and lifted in comparison to the opok wines (though they are made exactly the same)

2021 Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster Gelber Muskateller Vom Opok Steiermark, Austria From the same soils as the Opok Sauvignon, the wine is also made the same w/ about two years of elevage.

Weststeiermark, Organic

Franz might be part of the ‘Schmecke das Leben’, a trailblazing group of 5 growers (including Muster & Tscheppe) who are easily the reference for natural Styrian wine; yet his wines stand alone for their unique styles in my opinion.

Being in Weststeiermark, he works with more red varietals than any other producer in this lineup and has an expert hand with sparkling wine.

A deeply sensual lineup across the board, Strohmeier makes textural wines with a high thread count in an unfiltered, unsulfured style.

NV Franz Strohmeier, TLZ 'Gelb No.7' Steiermark, Austria A blend of the two most famous white varietral (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) which see a touch of skin contact before a year-long elevage in wood before being bottled w/o fining, filtration or SO2.

2022 Franz Strohmeier Cat Silver 4, Styria, Austria A wine named for the Weststeiermark’s very specific soils and an ode to the whole estate as it coferments every varietal on the estate (red and white), including seldom seen Piwi varietals.

2020 Strohmeier TLZ Weinderstille 11, Steiermark, Austria Franz only uses extended contact on the fruit he believes is healthy enough, like the Chard andn Sauvognon here. It sees a full 12 moths on the skins before being pressed off for another 2 (!) years in barrel.

NV Franz Strohmeier, TLZ 'Lysegron No.9' Steiermark, Austria A very unique Pinot Blanc thats only made from the free run juice, simply aged for 12 months before bottling to maintain the delicate aromatics.

NV Franz Strohmeier, TLZ 'Wein Der Stille No.10' Steiermark, Austria the same as ‘11’ above but from the vintage prior (2019) !

2019 Franz Strohmeier, TLZ Indigo 5, Steiermark, Austria this wine shows off why this very specific part of styria excels with red variwtrals. Its Blauer Wildbacher thats deep in color and in its berried profile. Delicious.

2021 Strohmeier TLZ Weiss (No 12), Steiermark, Austria Arguably the most elegant white here, mainly Pinot blanc and a touch of Chard that macerates gently for 5 hours before being pressed and fermented in barrel. Natural Burgundy meets Styria.

Vulkanland, Organic

Vulkanland’s climate has more to do with Burgenland (the famous red region just north) than the rest of Styria. It's warmer and defined by volcanic basalt, which you don't find in other parts of the larger region. It does have the intense slopes, and focuses on white varietals (reds actually aren’t allowed here).

No producer captured this place better then Neumeister – an organic estate that focuses on world-class Sauvignon Blanc. Their style differs from those above, leaning in to the climate and soil by heavily soaking their fruit prior to fermentation. This adds an extra layer of texture, which is clear across the board. Their top site, Moarfeitl, sits at 340 meters altitude and is considered one of the true Grand Crus in all of Austria.

2022 Weingut Neumeister Gemischter Satz, Steiermark, Austria the famous wine of Vienna which dictates that multiple varietals must be co-harvested and fermented. Neumeister’s style is bright and fresh but with sneaky texture from their pre-ferment soak. Their blend is Gelber Muskateller with Welschriesling, Müller-Thurgau, and Scheurebe.

2021 Weingut Neumeister Ried Moarfeitl Sauvignon Blanc, Vulkanland Steiermark DAC, Austria Not just the most impotant wine for Neumeister but one of the marquee references for quality in Austria. Moarfeitl’s soils of sand, loam, and gravel are intermixed with volcanic elements, lending the Sauvignon Blanc from this site a distinctively assertive and profound mineral character.