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It's been thirty-odd years since Gerhard and Brigitte Pittnauer took over the winery in Gols near Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, bordering Hungary at the eastern edge of Austria. Over that time they've pushed the boundaries of Austrian red winemaking, in particular with St Laurent and Zweigelt. Pittnauer's wines are elegant, structured, complex and beautifully drinkable - qualities that were highlighted when Gerhard was named 2014 Winemaker of the Year by Falstaff magazine. Gerhard inherited his family's vineyard in the late 1980's after the unexpected death of his father. Then 18 years old, he had to train himself to make wine in the midst of scandal and chaos in the Austrian wine market. He chose to become a student of the broader wine world, and in realizing the exceptionality of the land and the indigenous grapes of the region, Gerhard allowed himself to experiment with some missteps until he found his thesis. He set forth to 'grow' wine rather than to 'make' it, from Austria's native varieties. Today, he tends 15 hectares, half of which he owns and half of which he rents, alongside his wife Brigitte to create what they call "living wines." All work is done manually from composting to pruning. but they do incorporate a bit of modern technology: a pneumatic press, temperature-controlled steel tanks and pumps, all to ensure the purity and freshness of the fruit.
On the palate, the 2017 Pitti shows exactly that - bright and lightly fruity, this is a medium bodied easy drinker that does the job of refreshing without taxing the mind or spirit. Seemingly unaffected by oxygen, this is the perfect weekday red that will not fade in aroma or flavor as you sip it over 3 or 4 nights. This is a must-have to drink with a slight chill as an alternative to cru Beaujolais or Bourgogne Rouge.