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Johannes Zillinger Uncorked by Vasyl Velykanskiy

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EN

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Boris Buliga

Austrian divinity in 5 bottles.


My experience with Austrian wines is limited to a handful of winemakers. Despite my fondness for a certain rosé sparkling wine, I rarely make a conscious choice to explore wines from this corner of the world. Luckily, in Kyiv, there are a few folks who help me crawl out of my cave of Austrian ignorance. On one hand, there's Frank Wines, who imports quite a bit of the more unusual Austrian wines for our market, and on the other hand, there's Vasyl Velykanskiy, who always puts together unconventional tastings that are said to be so unique, they'd be considered the 8th sin to miss according to the Bible. And being a very religious and devout person, I make it a point to attend whenever Vasyl gathers people for another Dionysian celebration because I know it will be an evening of discoveries, an evening in good company, an evening in the coolest wine bar.

Before that evening, I knew almost nothing about Johannes Zillinger, having only tasted their base wines, which didn't particularly impress me. But after hearing Vasyl's stories, I became genuinely interested in tasting the winemaker's top-tier line. So, we gathered at Lo, where Vasyl surprised us with a blind tasting of sparkling wine (just a welcoming gesture), followed by a deep dive into the divine lineup from Johannes Zillinger. To put it briefly, it featured some of the best Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc you can find in Kyiv.

But let's take things in order. If you're interested in my tasting notes, just head over to the wine page – you'll find everything there. And before you roll away to listen to the tunes from Aphros, don't forget to subscribe to Вуса Василя channel so you don't miss out on any tastings from Vasyl.

WinePlace
wavg
sdev
fav
price
QPR
🏅 5th3.93490.14560
974 UAH
2.2351
🥉 3rd4.03650.04220
1,291 UAH
1.9644
🏅 4th3.97300.03240
1,530 UAH
1.5063
🥈 2nd4.24290.08521
1,788 UAH
1.9475
🏅 6th3.81430.27470
1,415 UAH
1.2872
🥇 1st4.51270.147211
2,186 UAH
2.4440

Aphros Pan Espumante Rosé 2014

Type
rose sparkling, brut
Region
Vinho (Portugal), Portugal
Producer
Aphros
Vintage
2014
Disgorged
N/A
On lees
26 months
Grapes
Vinhão
Alcohol
12
Sugar
unknown
Price
974 UAH
Aphros Pan Espumante Rosé 2014

This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.

Vasco Croft is the mastermind behind Aphros. In his youth, he dreamed of exploring the universe through astrology. However, after thoughtful contemplation, he shifted his focus towards architecture. His journey took an unexpected turn when Vasco discovered the works of Steiner, which led him to England to delve into pedagogy and sculpture. There, he developed a fascination for woodworking and furniture design, passions that sustained him for several years. However, it was an unexpected encounter with a Buddhist monk in his thirties, over a shared bottle of wine, which became a pivotal moment in his life. This experience was akin to an encounter with Dionysus, the ancient god of wine and festivity, which fundamentally altered his path. Driven by this transformative meeting, in 2003, Vasco launched a wine project on Casal do Paço, a property that has been in his family since the 17th century and was partially neglected at the time.

Johannes Zillinger

Johannes Zillinger, a third-generation winemaker, has adeptly steered the family winery into the modern era while deeply rooting his practices in the history and tradition of his forebears. The Zillinger winery, owned by Johannes's family since 1673, stands as a testament to a long-standing heritage of viticulture, with origins tracing back to Bavarian settlers relocated by the church in the 16th century to cultivate church lands. Transitioning to organic farming in the early 1980s under his father's guidance, one of Austria's pioneers in organic viticulture, Johannes has since embraced biodynamic farming with a zeal that reflects both respect for the legacy and a forward-thinking approach. His vineyards, including some of the oldest St. Laurent vines in the region, are managed with minimal intervention, embodying his belief in letting nature dictate the course. The shift towards biodynamics under Johannes's stewardship has been marked by innovations (on the region scale) like the introduction of qvevri and a commitment to practices that enhance the vitality and expressiveness of his wines.

Navigating Johannes Zillinger's wines is an exploration of his philosophy and the diversity of his vineyards, categorized into four distinct series: Velue, Reflexion, Revolution, and Numen. The Velue series, named after both the old name of the village Velm-Götzendorf (where the winery is located) and the willow trees lining the local rivers, offers an accessible entry point into Zillinger's approach to natural winemaking. These wines, characterized by their lightness, everyday appeal, and minimalistic vinification, are a testament to the unique terroir and Johannes's dedication to biodynamic practices. The Reflexion series takes a more focused approach, showcasing single-vineyard, single-varietal wines that serve as intricate portraits of their specific terroir, varietal, and vintage. These wines are crafted to express the complexity and nuances of their origins.

The Revolution series embodies Johannes's playful and experimental side, featuring wines that break from tradition and offer a fresh, dynamic experience. Utilizing methods like short-time maceration, the Solera system, and experiments with PIWI vines, this line is designed to redefine everyday drinking wines with its distinct, far-from-mainstream character. Lastly, the Numen series represents the pinnacle of Zillinger's winemaking, with grapes sourced from the oldest vines and vinified with minimal intervention. This series is a profound expression of divine influence and fate, capturing the essence of the vineyard's history and Johannes's winemaking philosophy. Each of these series offers a unique perspective on Zillinger's craftsmanship, providing both novices and connoisseurs with an enriching exploration of Austrian natural wines.

Johannes Zillinger Numen Grüner Veltliner 2015

Type
white still, dry
Region
Austria, Austria
Vintage
2015
Grapes
Grüner Veltliner
Alcohol
12.5
Price
1291 UAH
Johannes Zillinger Numen Grüner Veltliner 2015

This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.

The wine originates from vineyards situated at an elevation of 180-200 meters above sea level, with vines averaging around 60 years of age, ensuring a deep-rooted exploration of the terroir's complexity. Vinification is handled with a natural approach, embracing spontaneous fermentation without temperature control and employing semi-carbonic maceration for 7 days in qvevri, 25% of which includes the stems, to enhance the wine's structure and aromatic profile. Following fermentation, the wine undergoes a maturation process lasting 16 months in old acacia barrels with a 700-litre capacity, contributing nuanced layers of texture and flavour. Bottling is conducted without filtration or fining, with a minimal dose of SO₂ added at bottling to preserve the wine's integrity.

Johannes Zillinger Numen Grüner Veltliner 2017

Type
white still, dry
Region
Landwein aus Österreich, Austria
Vintage
2017
Grapes
Grüner Veltliner
Alcohol
12.5
Price
1530 UAH
Johannes Zillinger Numen Grüner Veltliner 2017

This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.

Nestled at an altitude of 180-200 meters above sea level, this wine is born from vines approximately 60 years old. The vinification process embraces the art of spontaneity with natural fermentation, devoid of temperature control, and includes a method of semi-carbonic maceration that spans 7 days in qvevri, with a notable 25% of the batch fermented with stems. Following fermentation, the wine is aged for 16 months in seasoned acacia barrels of 700 litres.

Johannes Zillinger Numen Riesling 2018

Type
white still, dry
Region
Austria, Austria
Vintage
2018
Grapes
Riesling
Alcohol
12.5
Price
1788 UAH
Johannes Zillinger Numen Riesling 2018

This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.

Perched 185 meters above sea level, this Riesling is cultivated from 35-40-year-old vines. The vinification journey begins with an initial maceration period of 5 days in qvevri, followed by a second phase of semi-carbonic maceration, extending over 12 months and involving 12% added berries – meticulously selected 1-2 berries per vine – to enrich the wine's body and depth. The wine then matures for 12 months in old oak barrels of 600 litres. Bottling is carried out without filtration or fining, staying true to the wine's authentic essence.

Johannes Zillinger Numen Rose Sankt Laurent 2018

Type
rose still, dry
Region
Austria, Austria
Vintage
2018
Grapes
Saint-Laurent
Alcohol
12
Price
1415 UAH
Johannes Zillinger Numen Rose Sankt Laurent 2018

This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.

This wine comes from vines over 106 years old, undergoing spontaneous fermentation in 10hl amphorae with semi-carbonic maceration for 8 months, using 100% whole clusters. Aged for 3 months in 500l old barrels, split equally between acacia and oak, it is bottled without filtration or fining and with minimal SO₂. Made entirely from St. Laurent grapes.

Johannes Zillinger Perpetuum Blanc 2017

Type
white still, dry
Region
Austria, Austria
Vintage
2017
Grapes
Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol
12.5
Price
2186 UAH
Johannes Zillinger Perpetuum Blanc 2017

This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.

Located at an elevation of 190 meters above sea level, this wine is produced from 35-40 year-old vines. The vinification process involves wild yeasts and no temperature control, with 50% direct pressing and 50% undergoing short maceration. It's aged for 14 months under flor and on full lees, bottled without filtration, fining, or added SO₂. Made entirely from Sauvignon Blanc.

Raw scores

WineYaroslav HAleksandra NYaroslav MAlinaAlisaSerhiiDanilJulia KDmytro KhDaria BVasyl VBoris B
4.003.203.904.104.005.003.804.003.903.804.003.90
4.203.804.104.003.503.804.004.103.604.004.004.10
4.003.604.204.204.004.004.203.903.703.903.903.90
4.304.004.204.305.004.504.404.203.704.204.254.20
3.802.004.004.003.203.703.703.803.803.803.803.80
4.603.704.405.005.005.004.804.504.004.404.604.40

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