Once again my lack of appointment book, and desire to actually get one, found me cringing when a supplier stood in all his tall, and quite handsome, glory in front of me, big, not too shinny grin on his olive colored face, young man at his side with his arm extended in my direction, tight fitting clothing and firm confidence assuring me he wasn’t from around these parts. I heard my coworker Andy ask, “You here to see me?” while scrolling through the appointment book he has on his iphone, (now there’s an idea….one that I shan’t use) slightly panicked and embarrassed look on his face. “Nope, we’re here to see Sam” Oh goddamn it.
“It’s nice to meet you and yes, I am just 21 years old” the first words I heard from the slightly freckle-faced and virile young man that was shaking my hand fairly aggressively. His name Alexander Sattler, his age as he pointed out, (and yes, I would have asked as he looked like a baby) merely 21 years but he had been involved with winemaking at his family’s estate since he was 14. I made my way to the tasting room, shuffling behind my sales rep and the eager young winemaker, my note book tucked in my recently shook palm, the whole time trying to remember if I even had an appointment with this rep and noting to myself that the young man didn’t sound or look terribly French. I flipped open my notebook, grabbed us three wine glasses and settled in.
“As I said, I am 21 so no need to worry” Alexander began as bottles were being pulled from chilled wine bags full of ice packs, his thin fingers grasping a cork and pouring me a glass “my family has been in Styria since the late 1800s but it was my father that really took charge, way before I was born” he said with a beautifully toothy and sheepish grin, “and with determination and listening to the land became a pioneer in our region. He knew Sauvignon Blanc was what we could grow best in the southern region where our vines are planted on very steep slopes” the words rolling off his tongue in perfect English and while there was an accent it was becoming quite clear to me, this young man was not French. “We are the furthest south wine growing region in Austria and that is where Sauvignon Blanc grows far better than Gruner Veltliner” the words still falling off his lips and I began getting my bearings. Okay, not a French tasting appointment, this was an Austrian appointment and…wait, Austrian? And we’re tasting Sauvignon Blanc?! What the Veltliner?!
The Austrian department at The Wine Country has seen several faces. We once had a very eager buyer, well I should say, a very eager sales person, in charge of buying for the tiny region, she was also our German buyer, (which just seemed to make sense as many importers deal with both as well) and one hell of an ass buster. She grew the department, stuffed it full of interesting and geeky wines, wacky reds and rich sexy Gruners that sported price tags often well over $50 a bottle. It was quite the conversion I have to say and there was not a store within 30 miles that could come close to offering the number or scope of wines from Austria that we could. We saw a bump in sales, obviously but…well even that driven woman couldn’t move a bunch of $75 Gruner Veltliner in Long Beach so the second she alerted us she was leaving to work for a German wine importer Randy got out the red price gun and got to slashing. Since then He took over buying for Austria but seeing as he finds very little time in his busy schedule to meet with suppliers, (although I know he must miss it a little, not that Chamber and Rotary meetings aren’t a blast and all…..) he asked me to step in. That meant one thing to the woman that works the front and is privy to all the, “Yes, where can I find__________’s?” cut it some more. I reduced the department to one red, a Zweigelt, in liter bottles that is grapey, fresh and delicious, a Pinot Blanc and a couple affordable Gruners, at least one of those is liters too. Not saying there aren’t great Gruner Veltliners out there, (although I confess to never having my mind blown by one) but I will say that the prices for some won’t be supported by our market so it’s best to just keep it simple. But…..
The Sattler family have become known for their craftsmanship of nature, for letting their land determine what to grow in order to offer the very best and where they are located and for the Sattler’s of the deep south, it’s Sauvignon Blanc that thrives, flourishes and as a store that has a real passion for beautifully constructed white wines, especially those made from the racy and nervy Sauvignon Blanc variety, well I could not possibly be more thrilled that forgetfully ran into young Alexander and the heart-racing wines from his family’s estate.
2010 Sattlerhof Welshriesling ($19.99)
An ancient variety of white grape, unrelated to the Rhine Riesling so many of us know, this crisp white is loaded with fresh green notes and has none of those peachy, floral notes we tend to think of when we think Riesling. Fierce acidity and bright saline flavors are all over this exciting refresher of a white wine. Bring on the shellfish people!
2010 Sattlerhof Sauvignon Blanc Classic ($26.99)
There is this sexy intermingle of tropical and austere that some of the greatest producers in the Loire Valley can coax from Sauvignon Blanc, folks like Crochet and Dagueneau and it was those wines that I flashed upon when I stuck my nose in this glass of wine. Ripe guava, cold white rocks, flecks of lemon rind and the fleshiness of grapefruit all in one lip-smacking glass? Yeah, sign me up for another long, deep pour. Something here reminds me of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc way back when, serious, firm, ripe but tongue gripping….perfect. Look out Sancerre.
2009 Sattlerhof Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc ($46.99)
The Kranachberg vineyard is the last picked, or latest harvested by Sattlerhof. They like to let the fruit get as ripe as possible, draw from the limestone rich soils and feed on the royalty of this particular slice of land that imparts upon the finish wine a mind-bending texture, enormous length, and layer upon layer of dumbfounding complexity. Anyone that thinks Sauvignon Blanc is not a noble variety has never tasted this Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc from Sattlerhof, period. Herbs, citrus, minerals, salted pineapple, oyster shells, pink salt, basil oil and with a round, curvy texture that slowly splashes around the mouth, taking over just before finishing all fresh and vibrant, leaving the palate both worked over and wanting more. Too pricy for Sauvignon Blanc, that’s okay there were only like 10 6 packs brought to the west coast and I was only able to nab one so…