Haderburg: Bees in the Vineyard, Bubbles in the Cellar

At Haderburg, Erika Ochsenreiter manages the biodynamic vineyards and her brother, Hannes, is in charge of the cellar. They grew up at Hausmannhof, the centuries old farmhouse and estate which their parents bought in 1976, and are slowly taking responsibility themselves.

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On the day that I visited, the harvest was mostly complete. Only a few luscious grapes still hung on the vines. Erika explained that having the bees is part of biodynamic farming. (Biodynamic farming uses natural methods to enrich and vitalize the soil, which in turn, creates healthy, strong vines and flavorful grapes.)
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At Haderburg, which takes its name from the medieval castle that seems to teeter on a spike of rock above the farm, Erika predominantly grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling wines made with the metodo classico (Champagne method where the second fermentation occurs in the bottle.)
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In the cellar, Hannes uses only indigenous yeasts so as to allow Erika’s grapes maximum expression in the bottle. There are thousands of bottles resting on the lees (from 2-more than 8 years). Hannes lifted one to show the spent yeasts (lees) inside.
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These pupitres (specialized racks developed in Champagne) allow the yeasts to drop down into the neck of the bottle. Each day, they are turned a quarter of a turn by hand, a process called remouage developed in the early 1800s by the Veuve Cliquot.

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When the yeasts have collected in the neck of the bottle, Hannes uses this machine for degorgement, the process of taking off the top, releasing the spent yeasts and closing the bottle again without losing the fizz.
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For sparkling wines, Hannes makes:
Rosé (60% Pinot Nero/40% Chardonnay: 2 years on the lees),
Brut (85% Chardonnay/15% Pinot Nero)
Pas Dosé (same grapes as Brut but no sweetness added after degorgement)
Hausmannhof (100% Chardonnay:malolactic fermentation in barriques, 8 years on the lees)
All crisp, elegant and have very fine bubbles. The Pas Dosé (below) is my favorite.

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The other highlight of the tasting was a Hausmannhof Pinot Nero Riserva 2004. It is a testament to how well Haderburg Pinot Noir ages: velvety but vivacious, an absolute delight.

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And as a special treat, I took home a jar of Erika’s honey: rich with the flavors woodlands, wildflowers, and the vineyards…all characteristic of Haderburg’s mountain perch above the Adige River in Alto Adige/Südtirol.
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Haderburg
Località Pochi 30
Salorno (Bolzano) 39040
Alto Adige/Südtirol

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