Last week I had a conversation with Napa grape farmer Mike Hendry, a guy who considers himself a viticulturist first and a winemaker second. In Napa, that's pretty rare. But in the parts of the world where wine is viewed, at least generally speaking, as a cultural product more so than a cash crop, that farming mentality lives strong. So it is with Heidi Schröck, feminist, lecturer and viticulturist extraordinaire. Frau Schröck makes wines of distinguished character from traditional Austrian grapes like grauburgunder, weissburgunder, and welschriesling. Her weissburgunder (or pinot blanc, as it's also known) is full of bright foral notes and citrus oil. It's a versatile wine that exhibits a finely textured savory quality balanced by its density and supple mouthfeel.
She only farms about 10 hectares of land, which is really small, even by Austrian standards. But somehow she has captured the imagination of the international wine scene, including sommeliers in some of the top restaurants in the U.S. It has to do with the gorgeous fruit, authentic approach and food-friendly acidity of her white wines.
It also has to do with the spirit she brings to the project of making wine. When Heidi first took over her family's vineland in 1983, she was one of a very small group of women making wines in a largely male-dominated industry. What was her response? Gather all the women she knew who were doing what she was, and build a consortium of women vintners who shared a common philosophy in the cellar: make great wines, and don't fuss too much.
If you're looking to get your mind blown with some deeply cultural white wine, this is it.
Heidi Schröck weissburgunder - $25 Burgenland, Austria