René AntragWritten by Franz Weninger on the 2nd of May 2019
His workplace: one of the 10 best restaurants in the world. His occupation: finding the perfect food and wine pairing. René Antrag drew my attention online and in print as a young, dynamic sommelier. I got to know him better at a birthday dinner at the Steirereck restaurant in Vienna’s Stadtpark. René was serving our table, and I was excited for the wine pairing so that I could see how this sommelier thinks.
It turned into a stunning evening. René reached deep into his treasure chest of natural and biodynamic wines. All the wines were served perfectly and echoed the purity of the dishes. It was also wonderful to see that he is one of the few sommeliers who actively travels through Hungary to personally select little-known Hungarian wines for the Steirereck restaurant.
Tasting Notes by René Antrag
• Gneisz & Csillám 2015
In the glass, this wine appears incredibly limpid, beaming with a delicate ruby red colour and violet hints. The nose is very playful, with ripe black cherry aromas mingling with seductive and downright feminine floral notes reminiscent of lilac and jasmine. Further complexity is provided by background nuances of delicate animal spice which develop into balsamic aromas after some time in the glass.
On the palate, the wine is quite hearty and generous. The ripe black cherries and tobacco spice seem to dominate initially. With more tasting, very subtle floral notes and mouth-watering acidity bring plenty of freshness and liveliness to the table. Grippy tannins provide a great backbone and follow right through to the finish. Overall, this is a robust wine with tremendous tension. In terms of the body, it is measured and does not appear excessive or too concentrated. The oaking is another example of unbelievably intuitive winemaking. This wine improves even more as it warms up slightly. I would recommend serving it in a Burgundy glass at around 16ºC so that it can display its full power and complexity.
• Hochäcker Blaufränkisch 2015
A dense ruby red appearance, showing even more concentration at the core. Delicate violet hints point to its youth.
On the nose, the wine gives a somewhat baroque impression with dark berries combined with a subtly reductive character. The animal notes – cured meat comes to mind – lend the wine a very complex structure. The slightly tarry plum confit which emerges as the wine warms up provides a certain softness and appeal. The palate is surprisingly elegant and delicate. Ripe fruit aromas follow through from the nose to the palate, evoking plump blackberries and ripe Morello cherries which, despite the intense aromatics, add a pleasant effect. Its noticeable lightness – which stands up to the wine’s powerful character – comes from a beautifully balanced tannic backbone and acid structure which give this wine its authentic Blaufränkisch identity. The 2015 vintage shows off healthy, ripe grapes, firm grip, great tension and therefore excellent potential for the next few years.
• Steiner 2012
The deep ruby red colour with its concentrated core gives an impression of superb juiciness. Already on the nose, one can sense what this wine has in store: expression, muscle and pure austerity.
This is a very masculine wine with delicate reductive notes but an undercurrent of animal spice. One is seduced by its ripe aromas of blackberries but also vegetal hints of chokeberries and menthol. The coffee aromas accompanied by sweet wood would seem almost opulent had they not been contrasted by refreshing, freshly-grated grapefruit zest…
The palate is characterised in a most fascinated and uncompromising way. An array of aromas promised on the nose follow through to the palate. A chewy texture provided by the pithy, grippy tannins invigorate the flavours and steer the body into the right direction: nice and straight forwards. The acidity is felt throughout and enlivens the palate, lifting the fun factor another notch. Aromas of black cherries, bramble and ever so subtle menthol fade completely into the background as the fascination lies rather with the structure provided by the vines’ schist terroir. This is a wine which opens up particularly well in a Burgundy glass, demonstrating that superficiality would be completely out of place here – the reserved yet expressive soft notes are the ones setting the tone. Impressive!
The Message in a Bottle is our wine subscription. Our aim here is to present to you an assortment of wines to enjoy, including interesting tasting notes from our guest authors. Our Autumn 2017 Message in a Bottle is presented by René Antrag.