Who is Winifred? What’s her story? She’s not giving much away, staring at us as she does, rather blankly. Not exactly happy, but not sad either. Her firmly parted hair suggests a certain amount of seriousness. Perhaps more serious than you might expect for a rosé.
It’s fair to say the juice within this Instagram-friendly bottle is also more serious than you might expect for a rosé. Quite deep and dense in colour, it’s almost a light red. If Winifred were drawn in colour, she might remind me of Michelle of the Resistance from ‘Allo ‘Allo.
All this may seem a little pretentious. However, Gut Oggau is not aiming for modesty (“a glass of Winifred could change your life” reads the back label). She is one of a series of labels picturing a fictitious family. Winifred is one of the children, younger and full of energy (unlike her stepmother Josephine, who found the love of her life, Timotheus, at an older age). Altogether, they make up a kind of vinous Guess Who?
Gut Oggau is a relatively new project, started by Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe in 2007. Eduard came from a traditional winemaking family in Styria, while Stephanie’s parents run a Michelin- starred restaurant. They purchased an abandoned 17th century winery in Burgenland, restoring its old screw press, and converting the vineyards to biodynamic, now with Demeter certification.
Burgenland is in southern Austria, close to the banks of the lake Neusiedler See, near the border with Hungary. As it is the warmest wine region in Austria, red wines are much more significant, though the Tscheppes do also make whites. Winifred is a field blend of roughly 60% Zweigelt and 40% Blaufränkisch – both black grape varieties which can produce strikingly coloured, fruit driven red wines, but only medium in body and tannin. In other words, grape varieties that are well suited to making rosé.
The grapes come from low-yielding old vines, giving them extra concentration. They are pressed and then aged in large, old barrels for eight months (uncommon for a rosé). After this maturation, the wine is bottled without fining, filtering or the addition of sulphur, giving it a cloudy appearance.
In the glass, Winifred’s personality comes through strongly. Aromatic and packed with red cherries, but also quite smoky and meaty (think biltong). The palate is equally vibrant, with sour cherry and cranberry – this is one to appeal to lovers of lambic and kriek beers. Served lightly chilled, it’s a wonderful accompaniment to warmer April afternoons.
Paul Medder is a freelance wine educator and works for one of the UK's leading wine distributors. He occasionally tweets @PaulMedder. To sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.