Martin tried to play sick from Kindergarten because he preferred to stay in the vineyard with his mother. At the age of 12 he truly fell in love with winemaking. Anna started even younger. She was basically “born in the cellar” and had been helping the family vineyards since she could walk.
After attending an established Austrian school, which had been developing the countries greatest winemakers since 1860, Martin headed off to Italy to get some practicum. Martin developed much of his inspiration while studying with Serena Palazzo at Ronco del Gnemiz and Fabrizio Iuli (yes, that Fabrizio Ilui!). From Serna, he devloped an appreciation for full bodied white wines matured in small oak barrels, and from Fabrizio he learned how to make “complex and straight-forward” red wines. These two wineries sparked his passion for thrilling red, ambitious wines and barriques. He also found lifelong friends in Italy (and would eventually find Indie through Fabrizio).
Thanks to Anna’s gentle persuasion, Martin went on to study “International Wine Management” at the University of Austria. He’s gone on to seek a Master’s Degree from the same program. When Martin returned from Italy, he and Anna moved in together. They united their love, and their passion for wine under one roof. They started the “Arndorfer” label, with M & A on the label, which of course stands for Martin and Anna.
In Strass, the hills are full of vineyards, the flat close to the Danube River mostly grows grain. Arndorfer is located in the northern reaches where wine can grow, only 15 kilometers south it is considered too cold, and the land is dedicated to grain. This cool weather is important for the distinctive style of Arndorfer. Kamptal is mainly planted with white grapes, usually Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. The soil and climate help the grapes develop a unique regional expression.
There are different soils in the region, primary rock is great for Riesling, and loamy soils with sand or gravel are better for Grüner Veltliner. The climate is great for wine grapes because there are warm winds coming in from the pannonian stream, and cooler winds from the continental stream. During the ripening time, this balance of cold and warm between day and night help develop flavors in the grapes. Most years there is a bit of frost during the harvest, which is great for the grapes, and not overwhelmingly cold for the vineyard work.
The Arndorfers believe the most important consideration of a wine producer’s philosophy is that primordial question: Should we make commercial wine, or special, outstanding wine. Martin knew what he wanted to do after learning in Italy, having studied with Fabrizio Iuli, he had only one option. To him wine is more than just fermented grape juice. It is life.
It is an engrossing, life-long pursuit to understand how the soils and grapes in your terrior work. For Martin and Anna, it is the story of their families in Kamptal. There is an emotional attachment to the soils and vineyards they work. This drives the deep understanding of the land, which they believe is the most important part of the process. Even though the weather changes every year, creating a different language that the vineyard speaks, Martin understands it’s soul and can work with it no matter what.
Work in the cellar is crucial, mistakes can erase all the hard earned quality
developed in the vineyard. The Arndorfers don’t use, nor do they need, reverse osmosis, oak chips or micro-oxygenation. All they need is an idea, a good palate and lots of water for cleaning. Martin also needs barrels, he has a passion for barriques that sets him apart in Austria. He developed this love in Italy.
As important as Martin considers barrels, he believes that you shouldn’t taste the wood too much. He may use 100% oak in his wines, but you don’t taste oak, only wine. He uses oak “atmospherically.” It’s meant to make the wine comfortable and deepen the character it already has. Barrels used in this way enhance good vineyard work, rather than masking it. All of the wines from the die Leidenschaft line are fermented and aged in 228 liter French oak.
Strasser Weinberger wines are partially aged and fermented in oak, between 1100 liter and 2400 liters in size. This is the more traditional approach. The barrels are between 10 and 29 years old, so the influence of oak is subtle. Of course, the shape of the barrel and the age of it makes a difference. Stainless steel is used for part of the wines too. This diversity of vessels creates a tension in the wines. These wines are also made with grapes selected from different sites to balance the characters of the different vineyards.
The Arndorfers’ most distinctive vineyards are vinified as single vineyard wines, so that they an express the uniqueness of the site. The goal is to produce wines that are harmonious and balanced, yet deep and complex. The requirement is that they are authentic and reflective of the Arndorfers’ personality.