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Tement Sauvignon Blanc Grassnitzberg 2020

AUSTRIA

Regular price $49.98

2020 Grassnitzberg 1-STK (Premier Cru)
94+WA/95FS
Sauvignon Blanc
Weingut Tement
Styria, Austria


Terroir: Single-vineyard Grassnitzberg was the first vineyards owned by family Tement and was planted in the early 50ies. The old vines of the south south-east facing slopes grow on massive shell-limestone soil.
Winemaking: After natural fermentation 18 months in big neutral oak casks sur lie; bottled unfiltered

Light greenish yellow, silver reflections. Nuances of fresh white fruit, hints of guava and grapefruit, underpinned with pleasant herbal savouriness, needs some air. Taut, tightly meshed, racy acid core, white apple fruit, limes on the finish, a finesse-rich food companion with certain ageing potential.

95pts Falstaff
Light greenish yellow, silver reflections. Nuances of fresh white fruit, hints of guava and grapefruit, underpinned with pleasant herbal savouriness, needs some air. Taut, tightly meshed, racy acid core, white apple fruit, limes on the finish, a finesse-rich food companion with certain ageing potential.

94+pts Robert Parker Wine Advocate
The 2020 Ried Grassnitzberg Riff Sauvignon Blanc 1STK comes from a cooler site on brown earth covering coralline limestone that was picked until mid-October, macerated for about 12 hours, aged in doppelstücks (2,400-liter oak vats) and bottled in December last year. It opens with an intense and concentrated, lightly flinty lemon aroma with stony notes. Full-bodied, intense and round on the palate, this is a super pure, tight, saline and crunchy Sauvignon with bright and elegant fruit, fresh phenolic grip and a youthful, still-challenging mineral tension. Enormously long and salty, this is a highly promising, coolish, tight and lemon-scented Riff that should develop very well in the bottle. 13% stated alcohol. Glass stopper. Tasted in May 2023.

Wine Advocate on Tement: As always, there are several vintages on offer at Tement, but among the estate's best wines, the "premiers crus" or Erste Lage (1STK) and "grands crus" or Grosse Lagen (GSTK), the 2020s have just been released, including various selections from the Zieregg, the family's quasi-monopoly, where the winery is located in the upper reaches of the steeply sloping site. The Zieregg has only come to fame because of a good five decades of work by the family and now ranks among the world's great origins for Sauvignon Blanc but also for Pinot Blanc (Weisser Burgunder) and even Chardonnay, which is called Morillon in Styria. The massive coralline limestone of the terroir, the specific climatic conditions of this predominantly south-sloping and wind-exposed site and the long aging on the lees gives enormously characterful and firmly structured wines that benefit from many years of bottle aging. Even the just released 2019 and 2018 "reserve" wines are too young to be served today, but they are promising to be very good in about five years. "The taste of a wine is formed in the first few months of aging. In this phase, the wine polarizes. In the two to five years of barrel aging, the wine finds more and more its center; it rests in itself," says Armin, summing up the family's credo of giving their wines all the time they need to develop their inner balance and terroir expression. "We want to achieve even more independence with our wines, to bring out the sites even more," adds Stefan, who is mainly managing the vineyards and the machines. "We don't want to bottle 'made' wines, but to make authenticity and origin tangible. That is our understanding of tradition. Sure, it's always a tightrope walk, and we have to introduce many customers to this profound style first." But, no, there is no alternative to this path, which time and again seems to overwhelm even professional tasters. Tement's wines are not palate pleasers but architectural masterpieces. Their structure dominates the wines in youth, but in maturity gives terroir character and class. 2020 was the incisive COVID-19 year, when the world seemed to stand almost still and hardly anyone could travel, not even the winemakers. This led them to look even more closely at and understand their own origins. This is also the view of the brothers Armin and Stefan Tement, who have once again succeeded in producing impressive wines in 2020. After a good but not excessively warm vegetation period, the harvest started on September 12 and was finished on October 10th. In November, even a Beerenauselse was selected in the Zieregg. The wines are of superb quality again: very precise and firmly structured and provided with ripe and concentrated fruit. Each vineyard is expressed impressively well, and the Sauvignon Blanc composition from the Zieregg might be one of the finest in its history. There are three more selections from different parcels, which all have their personality, but the "grande cuvée" remains the most complete and complex wine of the domaine. In the rainy spring of this year (2023), a good part of the steep slope of the Grassnitzberg Riff, which had just been elaborately terraced, collapsed, or rather, the road running above it collapsed and slid down the slope, destroying many of the terraces that had just been completed. The financial damage is immense, but the terraces will nevertheless be rebuilt—even before the question of guilt has been legally clarified. "We won't reap the reward of this work in this lifetime anyway," says Armin's wife, Monika Tement, as she shows me the damage from a distance. Why they nevertheless continue to pursue this massive project that has exposed envy and ill will in the region? "It is the potential of this place that captivates us at Grassnitzberg. Together with the generations after us, we will do everything we can to develop this place and make it something special for people and nature." The few 2021s I have had were also excellent and indicate another exceptional Tement vintage after 2017 and 2019. The crus, however, won't be presented until September next year. The 2022 vintage was hand-picked with almost 200 helpers during 10.5 rain-free days between September 12th and 26th. In that year, it was crucial to pick at the right time because earlier the grapes aren't ripe enough and later they would have been diluted by the rainfalls, of which Styria always gets more than enough but never as much as that year, when the annual average was already surpassed in August. Tement's total vineyard area of about 100 hectares is farmed according to Demeter's biodynamic principles today, and during harvest, about 150 pickers help to hand-harvest fully ripe and healthy grapes.

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