Christoph Hoch - Kalkspitz NV

Christoph Hoch - Kalkspitz NV

Regular price $25.00 $25.00 Sale

Grüner Veltliner / Zweigelt / Sauvignon Blanc / Blauer Portugieser / Muskat Ottonel

Organic, Biodynamic

Kamptal, Austria

Imported by David Bowler

From the importer-

The Kalkspitz is a sparkling wine made in the Méthode ancestrale, also known as “Pétillant naturel” or “Pet Nat”. This is the most natural method of producing sparkling wine with the least intervention but lots of instinct from the winemaker. Here, the fermenting must, which still contains unfermented sugar is bottled and sealed with a crown cap. The moment of bottling is absolutely decisive, because the residual sugar content determines the level of carbonation as the fermentation process continues in the bottle. This wine will not be degorged will thus retain a slight cloudiness. Because lees and acidity will preserve the Kalkspitz, it is particularly suitable for storage. 
According to Christoph Hoch’s philosophy, the Kalkspitz is a combination of different grape varieties and lots that impart earthy and fruity tastes. The wine is bone-dry with a maximum alcohol content of 11,5% by volume and carbonation pressure below 3 bar. It is characterised by a crisp acidity that integrate with creamy yeasty components. It pairs well well with cheese, white meat, fish, and vegetables.
Christoph has very active, chalky soil much like what is found in the Cote des Blancs in Champagne. Upon learning this, he wanted to try out making a pet nat. In an effort to learn about sparkling wine, he spent time in Champagne with DeSousa, Laherte, and Tarlant. Benoit Tarlant (of Champagne Tarlant) made a bet with Christoph that it would be nearly impossible for him to make a stable pet nat. The bet was that if Christoph succeeded, then Tarlant would give Christoph twelve barrels to use. After his first bottling, Christoph sent him twelve bottles to try and after trying the bottles, Benoit conceded that he lost the bet and Christoph drove to Champagne to collect his barrels!
The Kalkspitz (kalk = chalk, and spitz = acidity) is made mostly of Grüner Veltliner, blended with Zweigelt, Sauvignon Blanc, Blauer Portugieser and Muskat  Ottonel. The 2015 is dry with a maximum alcohol of 11% and a maximum pressure of 3atm’s. It’s savory with a refreshing acidity and creaminess on the palate.

Christoph Hoch is a new, young Austrian winemaker in the Kremstal. He started out in 2009 at his parents' winery, making wine in a traditional style and he got bored. The schedule was too set for him. So, he started experimenting in 2010 and split from his parent’s weingut in 2013. He has 5 hectares from his family spread throughout four different vineyards, all in the town of Hollenburg. Hollenburg is on the south side of the Danube, and like the other areas of the Kremstal, the subsoil is conglomerate.

Conglomerate was formed by the Traisental and Danube river crashing together and compacting chalk and river stones together. The chalk comes from the Alps and it was brought by the Traisental River. It kind of looks like a construction mortar that you would make a building with. Christoph compared it to the chalk in the Côte des Blancs in Champagne and equally active, bringing minerals to the vines.

Throughout all of Hoch’s vineyards, you find a mix of mustard, rye, and phacelia. He considers all of his parcels by four categories: dry, chalky, nutrient rich, or holds water. Depending on the category, he will plant the herbs and grains accordingly. Mustard brings sulfur to the soil, which protects the plants and transfers it naturally to the wines, so that he can use as little as possible at bottling. Rye brings carbon to the soil. He knocks it down after it has grown and it creates a natural humus. The carbon from the rye works with the phacelia and creates nitrogen. As of 2015, the wines are certified organic and biodynamic. And interestingly, the local wine school in Krems sends students with Hoch to learn about biodynamic farming.

Christoph’s first vintage on his own was 2013. He makes less than 3,000 cases per year, 70% Grüner Veltliner and 30% Riesling, of which 30% are sparkling. His main goal is to make a wine that inspires emotion, hopefully enthusiasm for the wine itself, but he is okay with clear rejection as well. To do this, he wants to make wines traditionally, maximizing the terroir – this means spontaneous fermentation in wooden barrels (oak and acacia) some on the skins and some racked. All of the wine is aged in barrel (all used) and he treats each barrel as its own project. In the cellar, there are two levels: one is a bit warmer, and the wines all go through malo (naturally) and the lower cellar is cooler and the wines mostly do not go through malo. Fermentations happen naturally and slowly in neutral barrels. He now has wine in the cellar from five vintages, 2013-2017. He feels that limiting a wine to a single vintage does not show the best of the terroir expression and most of his wines are non-vintage, with a dominant base year and previous vintages blended in.

The Hoch wines are very original and are some of the best representations of the ‘new’ wines of Austria. It takes a lot of courage to push the boundaries of the classic Austrian-style and pushing boundaries brings a certain amount of risk. In the end, Hoch has created something new and maybe it’s not in the classic Kremstal fashion and outside of the appellation regulations, but it’s certainly exciting to try a wine without limits. Christoph Hoch has an infectious enthusiasm and that energy comes through in the wines.