Lately, one of my favourite things to do is to learn about wines from Erik, one of the owners of Juice Imports. On Sunday, he hosted a wine tasting ($30) to try all the Gut Oggau wines in stock and some unique gems from their cellar. Let’s listen to “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter for this post.
Our class started with a glass of sparkling organic cider from the Okanagan. The cider was fresh and bright. I bought a bottle for my neighbour, who recently became my dog’s godmother.
Located south of Vienna, Erik informed us Gut Oggau was one of the first wineries he ever signed. He fell in love with the uniqueness and personality of the wines. He considers the husband and wife team – Stephanie and Eduard – some of the most thoughtful winemakers dedicated to the land and their employees. For example, the owners pay their six full-time workers year-round rather than seasonally, so the employees can experience how the wines sleep in the winter and wake in the spring. As a result, the prices of their wines reflect this philosophy.
Erik mentioned that Theodora (2020, $50) was the winery’s entry-level wine. Yikes, I would never want to host a dinner party for Stephanie and Eduard. The cloudy yellow hue reminded me of chicken stock. My friend Bubbles said she could taste citrus.
We learned two interesting facts. First, Gut Oggau produces its wines without any sulphur, and second, sulphur doesn’t cause headaches. People get headaches from wine due to the alcohol or a reaction to the tannins. I wanted to pipe up and add that people also get headaches from excess drinking, but I read the room and decided to keep my thoughts private.
Next up was the Timotheus (2018, $79). Erik said in all of Alberta, and there are only 24 bottles of Timotheus. The vines are planted in complex soil, such as slate, sand, gravel and limestone. The texture and flavour sent shivers down my spine as the liquid tingled on my tongue. Erik described this wine as having intense character, with umami notes of white truffle.
The Mechthild ($158) we tried was sold out, which was fine with me as this wine was beyond my budget. Erik noted that the vines produced a low yield but produced the cleanest and highest quality grapes using a crazy, archaic process called a tree press. The person sitting in front of me described the colour as sunshine gold, with a gorgeous glow. I was jealous that I didn’t come up with that description myself.
My favourite wine was Winifred ($48). At first, I didn’t realize this wine was a rose. The texture was silky, with an aftertaste of fresh strawberries. My friend Bubbles said the gentle tartness reminded her of crab apples. I enjoyed this wine so much that I bought it for my next girls’ night with Kournikova, Quebecoise, and Betty.
The last wine we tried was the Athanasius (2020, $51). We learned this was the most planted grape in the winery. The vines are 38 to 40 years old. Erik described this wine as fresh and intense, aged in old Austrian oak. We marvelled at the dark, ruby red colour and the high viscosity. Erik mentioned the flesh of the grapes is red, which is rare as most red wines are made with white-coloured fruit.
I could tell these wines spoke to Erik, who said each wine tasted alive, soft and supple. This wine tasting was dirt-cheap, particularly for these wines. Erik himself rarely gets to try these bottles, so it was a luxurious treat for everyone. I enjoyed every wine I tried, though I got the impression from Erik’s physical and verbal reaction from drinking each wine that I didn’t fully grasp the greatness of these wines. Though I was out of my element, I was fine with it. I’m more comfortable with pearls being cast upon me than being a pig at a trough. I’ve recently signed up at Grand Cru Wine Society in the hopes of learning more about wine and food pairings.