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Our Unique Wine Stories: St. Laurent, ‘Dornflagen’ from Gerhard Pittnauer

Unique Wine January 2020

2015 St. Laurent, ‘Dornflagen’

100% St. Laurent

Burgenland, Austria

We’re championing a selection of hand-picked wines that have unique stories; a fascinating founding, an extraordinary winemaking process or a bottle design like no other. THE DISH caught up with the founders of St. Laurent, ‘Dornflagen’ 2015 from Gerhart Pittnauer to find out what makes their wine unique.

This month we are featuring St. Laurent, ‘Dornflagen’ 2015 vintage as our unique wine this month, their thesis being to grow wine, rather than to ‘make it in the cellar’ a philosophy that cultures fabulous wine from the off. The dish caught up with the Goldberg-based producers to discover more about the grape and its production, but also to know more about the man behind these grapes. Available at German Gym.

Made from grapes from the Salzbergacker, Goldberg, and Edelgrund vineyards, situated near the southern edge of the plateau “Parndorfer Platte,” where temperatures are slightly cooler and windy. Soils here are rich in iron, with good drainage due to the gravelly, slightly dense alluvial soils. The vines are aged between 15-20 years, with a low yield which is essential not only to concentrate the wine, but to make it more age-worthy. After 14 days of maceration, spontaneous fermentation begins without temperature-control in used 500L wooden barrels. Aged in the same barrels for one year. Not filtered.


About the grape:

St. Laurent is a highly aromatic dark-skinned wine grape variety. Its origins are shrouded in mystery, the story goes that St. Laurent is believed to have resulted from a crossing of Pinot noir with an unknown second parent.

About the producer:

There is a simple and honest feeling in the wine and spirit of Gerhard Pittnauer which hails from his generosity and humility. Given the reins of his vineyard in the mid-1980’s after the unexpected death of his father, Gerhard, then just 18 years old, had to train himself to make wine in the midst of scandal and chaos in the Austrian wine market. He chose to become a student of the broader wine world, and, in realizing the exceptionality of the land he farmed and of the indigenous grapes of the region, allowed himself to experiment with some missteps until he found his thesis.

He set forth to ‘grow’ wine rather than to ‘make’ it in the cellar, from the autochthone varietals. He did so without any viticultural doctrine until he found that there was a consistent, common thread in the wines he loved to drink from France and elsewhere. So Gerhard Pittanauer tends 15 hectares, alongside his wife Brigitte to create what they call living wines. All work is done manually from composting to pruning. There is no calendar that drives them. Nothing is rushed: they believe in quality over speed. They taste for perfect ripeness, select the cleanest grapes, and begin the wine in the cellar in response to the conditions of the vintage. They do incorporate a bit of modern technology: a pneumatic press, temperature-controlled steel tanks and pumps, all to ensure the purity and freshness of the fruit remains.

They are making wines that excite them with the unique voice of the varietal and the deep limestone soils of the terroir speaking clearly. Gerhard and Brigitte are aware of the evolution of their tastes as well as the vineyard’s. They are students presenting the current findings. Not with proud declaration, but with excited experimental energy to get the best of what they have. So far, it is delicious research.