St Laurent Schafleiten
The St Laurent Schafleiten is made from a 0.72 hectare parcel of 15 year old, bio-dynamically cultivated vines growing on a red gravel soil at the top of the slope above Gols. The Schafleiten vineyard, at about 150 meters altitude on the Parndorfer plateau, faces south-east. The micro-climate here is slightly cooler and windier, making it ideal for the St. Laurent variety which buds early and needs a long ripening cycle but never exceeds 12.5% in alcohol. The vines are planted densely at 5000 plants per hectare and yields are a very low 25-30 hectoliters per hectare. Beck harvests by hand, sorts the grapes in the vineyard and then twice at the winery – before and after de-stemming — on a sorting table. She ferments the St. Laurent in open, 3500 liter wood vats using only the grape’s indigenous yeasts and punches down the cap by hand three times per day for the first week. The vatting period lasts for 3 weeks after which the wine is moved into barriques, which are 20% new and the rest are 1-4 years old. It undergoes malolactic fermentation in barrels, where it matures for 15 months before bottling. This cuvée shares the freshness and soft, enveloping textural quality of a Pinot Noir from a warm year. But its fruit is darker and richer, alcohol level lower, and the tannins softer, making it a uniquely rich and elegant wine, with generous flavors of supple black cherry, wild blue and blackberry and spices.
About the Producer
The Judith Beck estate is based in the Burgenland commune of Gols, in the Neusiedlersee region, on the eastern – and warmest — side of the Lake Neusiedl. Gols is part of the larger Burgenland region in easternmost Austria, which enjoys a very warm climate defined by the Pannonian plain to the east and the Lake. Lake Neusiedl’s depth is only 1.5 meters and its water temperature can reach 90 degrees F. in the summer. Indeed, this is Austria’s warmest wine growing area, the first to harvest, and the production center of its finest full-bodied, dry red wines.
Judith’s parents, Matthias and Christine Beck, founded the family estate in 1976. Judith Beck made her first vintage in 2001 and in 2004 she assumed full control of the winery. After graduating from the Klosterneuburg Viniculture College Judith Beck gained international experience at world-renowned wineries, including Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux, Braida in Piedmont and Errazuriz in Chile. Managing the family winery comes naturally to Judith who has an innate “sixth-sense” feel for the regional varieties Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent.
Judith Beck owns a total of 13.5 hectares of vines in Gols, with holdings in the vineyard sites of Altenberg, Gabarinza, Salzberg and Schafleiten. 85% of the area is planted to red varieties – Blauer Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir and Merlot, with the remaining 15% planted to white varieties – Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. In addition, grapes are brought in from another 5 hectares in the communes of Apetlon, Halbturn and Winden, and used in the production of the basic red wines. Vines are planted at high densities of up to 7,000 vines per hectare to limit yields and ensure ripe fruit at harvest time. Soils range from loam and clay on the lower vineyards to limestone, higher up on the ridges.The Becks built a new modern and functional winery and aging cellar in 2005. It allows Judith to manipulate her wines as little as possible in the vinification process, resulting in wines which show the pure and vivid expression of the varietal and the unique vintage character. Judith Beck’s wines are at once elegant, fruit forward and complex expressions of her vineyards.
Farming/vinification practices: Judith and her father Matthias practiced sustainable viticulture from the outset, and converted to biodynamic practice with the 2007 vintage. Judith uses only native yeasts in the fermentation process. The red wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, in new barriques or in open vats. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation in new barriques or in large oak barrels. Some of the red wines are also matured in large oak vats, some of which are quite old, and are already being used by the third generation of owners.The wines are vegan.
The estate is a member of the Pannobile association, as well as of “11 Frauen und ihre Weine” (11 Women and their Wines). The philosophy of the domaine is aptly put by Judith: “Wine and the joy of living and pleasure all go hand in hand. We prefer wines which captivate all of our senses with each new bottle and each new sip.”