Photo: Juice Imports
Take note: Koppitsch is a producer who needs to be on your radar. Located in the Austrian region of Burgenland - husband and wife team Alex and Maria grow fruit on 5.5 hectares in the small village of Neusiedl am See, employing biodynamic practices and a completely hands off approach in their winemaking.
“I have been helping my Granddad and Father since I was a little boy. When you grow up in a natural winemaking family, it comes natural to you. You don’t need to think, you just know what you have to do.”
I had the opportunity to taste their wines upon my arrival in Toronto about 6 months ago, while wine bar hopping with friend and colleague Kasra Khorramnejad of Après Wine Bar. “Kas” - a man of many talents - most notably his affinity for really, really good wine. It was Kas who introduced me to Koppitsch, and I was smitten from the first sip.
We decided to split a bottle of their Homok - a blend of Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc and Weissburgunder - while at Sapori wine bar, a list curated by Kyle Doucet, which had several selections of Koppistch on the menu.
Tasting Alex and Maria’s wine for the first time reminded me of so many producers I love - specifically those that are crafted holistically. These are the types of bottles that are alive and will imprint on your palate. There was an evident brightness to the Homok. Sunshine and freshness abounded, that somehow seemed effortless, and kept me coming back sip after sip until the bottle quickly disappeared.
Looking back, my reaction seemed all too appropriate - since Alex’s description of their wines paints a similar picture. When I asked who he makes his wines for, he exclaimed: “I make the wine for myself mostly. We only bottle wine that we love to drink ourselves.”
There’s a certain playfulness to the labels. Abundant with primary colours and images that pander to childhood days gone by - lackadaisical, hazy and joyful afternoons - not unlike an elementary art school project, one that might proudly hang on the family fridge.
This warm sentiment of love carries on, woven intricately throughout the Koppitsch brand. Their philosophy is a simple one: “Make wine with less brain and more heart.”
Friends and colleagues Erik Mercier and Mark Couillard, owners of Juice Imports in Calgary, Alberta, recently had the opportunity to visit Alex and Maria and left me speechless with the memory from their visit: "Alex and Maria are making wines void of ego. Their humbleness has lead to clairvoyance. Their warm demeanour is a direct reflection of the land they work. Welcoming us into their home they showed us their wines, none of which really felt ‘made’. They seem to act as guides instead of makers, stewards of a place and time. Also, they’re really fucking nice and Maria is so funny. Boundless enthusiasm which balances Alex’s quiet, stoic vibe."
It’s not unusual that their wines conjure such emotion, since my feelings were echoed further when shared with good friend and Halifax sommelier Stefan Nielsen. When chatting recently about our mutual reverence for Koppitsch, he shared his incredibly beautiful description of blaufränkisch, a variety Alex and Maria work with:
“Blaufränkisch feels like the very last camping trip of the summer. The ground is damp and the forest is alive with aromas of the wilderness. Your picnic basket is full of ripe, chewy fruit and savoury charcuterie. You can smell the campfire playing tug of war against the light, September rain, but you’re already warm and cozy under a tarp with your favourite sweater.”
The Koppitsch portfolio goes far beyond a need for regurgitation of technical notes on residual sugar, oak or pH. Instead, they have the ability to summon feelings of love, family and heart - theirs are the types of wines to be treasured.