Nibiru

 

Nibiru is Josef Schenter & Julia Nather, a young couple farming and making wine together in Josef’s family home in the northern Kamptal. Julia is a Bavarian native who found her way to Austrian wine via early work in fine dining in Vienna, while Josef went to oenological school after growing up in the vines and in his family’s third-generation winery. Both have multiple years of experience doing harvests in South Africa as well as working in the cellsars at the famous Schloss Gobelsberg, where the two met. In 2015, Josef and Julia took over Weingut Schenter, Josef’s family winery; the property was divided in half so the duo could realize their dream of making wines naturally, with regenerative farming—a work in progress, with many steps along the way already completed.

 

Located in the village of Thürneustift, in the northernmost corner of the Kamptal, Nibiru’s eight hectares of vineyard land are clustered here and around the village of Mollands. The land is certified organic, with Demeter biodynamic certification to be completed in 2022. True holistic farming is the long-term goal, however, with a special focus around their best vineyard site, the Goldnagel: a site of quartz, decomposed primary rock, and amphibolite soils, covered in super old vines with no neighboring chemically-farmed parcels to clash with their efforts. The ultimate hope is to have the Goldnagel and surrounding area be converted back to something like a wild habitat with vines throughout, drawing from practices of permaculture and regenerative agriculture, going beyond the biodynamic farming they currently employ. Some of the practices already in use are the creation and maintenance of their own compost, from grape pomace, horse manure, and straw; it’s spread in the vineyards every year or second year to build humus. Undervine management is done by hand gently and selectively, and the soil between rows is left to grow wild with indigenous plants.

 

The winemaking Julia and Josef practice is similarly hands-off: all fruit is hand-harvested; all wines are fully spontaneously fermented (including malolactic, which happens naturally in all of their wines). Sulfur applications are small, if at all, and assessed on a wine-by-wine basis each year; the méthode ancestrale and some vintages of the Portugieser never see any, where the rest of the wines will see a dose (no greater than 20ppm) applied in December or January each winter, when the wines are still. All of the Nibiru wines are always unfined and unfiltered.

 

The character of Julia and Josef’s work is implied in the name of their winery project, Nibiru: in a Sumerian myth, the name of a planet that crosses into our solar system only once every 3,000 years or so, traveling the opposite direction as the rest of our planets. This oppositional, rare mythical planet seemed to the two of them to symbolize the difference in their approach from the imposing, classical past of the Kamptal and their hopes for what may be possible in this region in the future. What strikes us most about these wines is such quality and clarity having been accomplished only a few years into production: the entry-level ‘Grundstein’ wines are far more serious than their prices reflect; in this way they remind us of their established neighbor Matthias Hager, while the mid-tier liter bottlings are composed of older vines, significantly higher-quality fruit than most producers will offer in a larger format; finally, the top-tier ‘Amphibolit’ wines are tributes to the intense metamorphic soils of the Goldnagel’s terraces and represent the rising star of this winery. These latter wines evoke to us what might be possible in some years’ time, wines along the lines of accomplished Kamptal natural winemakers Matthias Warnung and Martin and Anna Arndorfer.

 

We’re very excited for the future of Nibiru, these wines from the upper reaches of the Kamptal, an area for decades understood as too much of a cold satellite to make good wine. With the devoted farming and careful, unobtrusive winemaking Julia and Josef employ, we think these two are part of the exciting new chapter emerging in one of Austrian wine’s most traditional corridors.

 

 

"Our wines are willful and determined to follow their own direction. Our principle is honesty." - Julia Nather & Josef Schenter

Wines

Ancestrale Rosé

Varietal: Portugieser; Zweigelt

Color: Rosé

Farming Practice: Biodynamic

Organic, Biodynamic. Roughly 50/50 Portugieser and Zweigelt. Average vine age 30 years old, from a mix of parcels planted on gneiss, quartz, and loess soils. Whole cluster pressed, then spontaneously fermented in tank; when fermentation was in motion, they filled the bottles with the active wine to complete in bottle. Undisgorged. Zero SO2 added. RS around 3 g/l. Tastes like pure brambly fresh cola, with great acidity.

Blauer Portugieser ‘Grundstein’

Varietal: Portugieser

Color: Red

Farming Practice: Biodynamic

Organic, Biodynamic. 100% Portugieser taken from a mix of parcels on heavy, deep loam, vine age on average 20 years. 50% whole cluster, 50% destemmed. 7 days’ ferment on the skins, pressed off into stainless steel tank. 20ppm SO2 added in January. Unfined, unfiltered. Loire Valley heads, rejoice at this Central European entry into the ‘new best friend in the peppery light red’ category.

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