Sektellerei Szigeti is one of Austria’s most important producers of sparkling wine, or sekt, all made using the méthode champenoise, often with extended time on the lees. We recently met up with Peter Szigeti to taste the current releases and to learn about recent developments in Austria’s sparkling wine industry, including the new quality classification that takes effect this year. Our reviews of their current releases are given below. For more on Austrian wine, see Report #25 The Wines of Austria.
When brothers Peter and Norbert Szigeti returned to Gols to assume management of this estate from their parents in 1990, they transformed the business. With Norbert’s enological training and experience making sparkling wine, they abandoned still wine in favor of sparkling. Next they decided to sell their vineyards in favor of contracting grapes from vineyard sites best suited for the varieties used for their sparkling program. Their first vintage was 1991, and today they source fruit from throughout Austria, although mostly from Burgenland around Lake Neusiedl. Today they produce a wide range of single varietal sparkling wine, in total about 50 thousand cases annually.
The new sparkling wine classification system, as explained by Peter, is a three level pyramid. All levels are made using the méthode champenoise with grapes grown and wines made in Austria. The base of the pyramid is called Klassik with 9+ months on the lees in bottle. The middle level is the Reserve with hand harvesting and 18+ months on the lees in bottle, and the top of the pyramid is the Grand Reserve with a minimum of 30 months on the lees. Only the Grand Reserve is also allowed to carry a vineyard designation.
The Szigeti sparklers reviewed here are all hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. Excepting the NV Grüner Veltliner, they all have spent a minimum of 3 years on the lees before disgorgement. Plaudits to Sektellerei Szigeti for putting disgorgement dates on their bottles. As noted below, the wines are all very well made. Now, if only we can convince them to bring in more sparklers from their Terroir Exclusif line.
US Importer: Craft + Estate (The Winebow Group)
Szigeti NV Grüner Veltliner Brut Neusiedlersee Burgenland ($20) 89 The NV Grüner Veltliner shows a reticent nose of melon and apple, mirrored on a clean, fizzy palate. It’s fresh and clean and easy to drink. Made with Champagne yeast and aged 9+ months on the lees. 8.1 g/L RS
Szigeti 2012 Gustav Klimt “Adele” Blanc de Blancs Brut Neusiedlersee Burgenland ($25) 91 This 100% Chardonnay sparkler was disgorged in August 2016, having spent 4+ years on the lees. It shows fresh, rich pear and melon fruit on the nose and has a creamy mouth feel, finishing with a crisp edge. A lovely wine, especially for the price.
Szigeti 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé Sekt Brut Neusiedlersee Burgenland ($25) 91 The Pinot Noir Rosé is an elegant, understated sparkling wine. It shows light red cherry and toasty lees on the nose and reveals superb freshness and very appealing perfumed palate. Disgorged in late 2016, it has 4+ years on the lees. Great value!
Szigeti 2013 Riesling Brut Spitzer Graben-Spitz 90 This sparkling Riesling offers bright, intense stonefruit on the nose and palate with notable acidity and depth of flavor. Spends 3 years on the lees, but rich fruit dominates.
Szigeti 2011 Grüner Veltliner Brut Osterreisch Sekt (in magnum) 92 Made from selected vineyard parcels with 5+ years on the lees, this wine reveals the potential for making outstanding sparkling wine from Grüner Veltliner. It shows overall finesse and noteworthy complexity with lively precise aromas and flavors of lychee, stonefruit, orange rind, and toasty lees.
See the following International Wine Review articles for more on Austrian wine:
and many more on the blog.