Blauer Wildbacher (BW) (blo-er wield-baa-kher) is a very peculiar grape that is found only in the southern part of Austria called Styria. This happens to be the smallest wine region of Austria with 550Ha of vines. That is even lesser than the 700Ha vine region around the capital of Vienna, which incidentally, is the only capital in the world with an established (and successful, if I may add) wine business.
Back to Styria, of their 550Ha, almost 400+ Ha are planted with the BW. It gives a black grape but little red is made from it. When the wine is called BW on a list it is usually red; Schilcher (Shil-kher) refers to the pale rosé version.
Shiclcher, for the uninitiated can be quite a revolution of tastes. As I say, it is the rose with balls! If you consider that most wines the world over are groomed to be universally pleasing and safe, then Schilcher is definitely the last one to come into the stables. It has aromas, tastes and the tactile structure of quite a difficult wine; something that will grow on you; provided you can wrestle with it that long. It took me almost a whole year to truly understand and appreciate this wine style. It is a rosé with none of the friendliness you associate with a rosé. In fact, if wines were animals, rosés would be tail-wagging playful dogs, like Labradors, and the Schilcher would then be one catty feline.
The “DAC for Schilcher” rumour lives on but even the man Peter Moser himself (behind the famed Falstaff guide) doesn’t readily comment. But he does share with a half-a-smile that it takes more than one glass to appreciate and enjoy a Schilcher.
Following are some tasting notes from my Schilcher tasting. Things that I mention in brackets are what were cited by the conductor but I may not have necessarily found those notes in the wine. RS refers to Residual Sugar, unless you imagine that I am talking about Reese Singh, which is what Reese Witherspoon would be called were she to marry me.
1. Jobstl: A grey salmon rosé, lots of fruit and berry toffee, (cassis leaves) and later, something balm-like and sterile. Has some RS but undetectable yet supportive, giving it a softer mouthfeel and some good length. This is an easy drink without being flimsy. A classic style.
2. Langmann vlg. Lex: More candy coloured, like a light ruby, very open and inviting a nose – fruit, rhubarb-like, sour cherry, cream, something that I can best (and very inadequately) describe as sweaty. The acidity crackles like a fire on wet wood all through. Still classic but with deviant tendencies.
3. Reiterer: A very good house which I acknowledge and recommend from previous tastings. So, I come with a prejudice. The robe is an in-between the tawny and ruby shades. Very classic Schilcher for me, has all the leafy notes with resplendent fruitiness. Rhubarb as a flavour opens and near-ends the show. Kumquats too found mention. The 8g/l RS is not exactly scary, in fact it seems in good balance and gives a good initial fruity rush to the attack. The acidity is high but balanced. Reminds you of some fish dishes that must be ordered alongside this.
1. Koller: Nice frizzante prickly version. I am beginning to get used to this; must be more than 2 glasses down by now.
2. Lazarus: Strong, lean and a tad mean. Sour lychees come to mind.
3. Friedrich: Ruby toffee colour, but lighter. Soft nose, cassis-ey, tannic, or something like that.
4. Muller: Same lightness of blush, the palate is fruitier and a tad softer in spite of lower RS. Good sign. But also seems feeble on finish with a slight lack of depth. Either it is the wine or I am having mood swings again.
5. Resch vlg. Longus: Dark tawny hue, rich sombre aromas, good body, I like this one lots. Schilcher Kögelberg.*
6. Reiterer: Frizzante, hits the mouth like an ice skater with his steely cold blades….sharp like an English remark! This is the aperitif wine before an aperitif wine.
7. Strohmeier Frnaz Sekt: Very hazelnutty, and the robe was tawny, made me wonder. Almost seems jaded at first. Really very hazelnut. Seriously. Aged and time lagged somewhere. No vintage mentioned. A bit faded and not in a good way, like jeans.
8. Langmann vlg. Lex: A bit ‘simple’ after the quirky previous. Fruit and balance however is commendable, especially for a Sekt.