Weingut Knoll


Knoll Riesling and Gruner at Canid Wines Chicagowho? what? when? where? why? how?

Wines from Knoll will be at Candid in the first or second week of February, 2015.

who grows the grapes at Weingut Emmerich Knoll? who makes the wines?

Emmerich Knoll III is the third generation to oversee wine growing at the estate.  The Knolls have been in Unterloiben area for centuries; the 400 year old restaurant “Loibnerhof – Knoll” run by extended family members has a reputation as one of the best in the Wachau.   Work in the vineyards and in the cellar is a family affair.  Emmerich II and his wife Monika have only recently handed over the reigns to their sons Emmerich III, who oversees the cellar and August, who leads work in the vineyards.  

Weingut Knoll in the Wachau is available from Candid Wines in Chicago Illinois

Emmerich Knoll III and his Father Emmerich II

what wines do they make at Weingut Knoll?

Knoll is best known as one of Austria’s leading producers of single vineyard Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings and 95% of their production is dedicated to these two grapes.  The Knolls focus on Riesling (45-50% of the total) is abnormally high for the region where Grüner is the most commonly planted grape.  In total, the family produces 25-30 bottlings each year at various levels of ripeness from Schuett, Loibenberg, Kellerberg, and Kreutles in the Wachau and a small holding in the Kremstal vineyard Pfaffenberg.  The remaining 5% of grapes include Chardonnay, Gelber Muskateller, Rivaner, Gelber Traminer and Pinot Noir.

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Weingut Knoll's Loiber Riesling at Candid Wines

Loibener Riesling Federspiel from Knoll.

when did Weingut Knoll start? when might you open a bottle?

There are mentions of some of the single vineyards now farmed by the Knoll family as early as 1379, though the family has “only” been established on site as winemakers for the last three generations.

When one might open a bottle is very much tied to the level of ripeness at which the grapes were picked.  The Wachau’s classification system includes Steinfelder (max alcohol of 11.5%), Federspeil (dry, and 11.5%-12.5%) and Smaragd (dry, minimum alcohol of 12.5%).

Weingut Knoll from the Wachau is available via Candid Wines in Illnois

The Loibenberg Vineyard: Photo via Circo Vino

This indication can be used as a guide, but only a loose one. As the wines climb in power and specificity to a single place, they move from thirst quenching wines for warm spring days into the realm of fine dining and elaborate pairing menus. The diversity of situations in which it would be a good idea to open a bottle of Knoll is very much part of the winery’s appeal.

where is Weingut Emmerich Knoll?

Weingut Emmerich Knoll is located in the village of Unterloiben at the far eastern corner of the Austrian wine-growing region of Wachau, located in the north east of Austria.   The winery is a little more than an hour from Vienna, by car. The Knoll family farms 15 hectaires (37 acres) predominantly in the Wachau with one site, Pfaffenberg, in the neighboring Kremstal.  Wachau sites include Schuett, Loibenberg, Kellerberg, and Kreutles.

As with any world class estate, the question is not so much where the winery is on a macro level, but where the grapes grow and how the producer distinguishes between sites. At Knoll, the macro level information about being on the eastern end of the Wachau speaks to warm days and cool nights tempered by their proximity to the Danube.

Looking more closely, Riesling is generally planted above Gruner on the slightly poorer, lighter topsoil that covers the granite bedrock.  In the Schutt vineyard, Gruner thrives in the richer top soils that include the wash from the sites above, a combination of granite and loess.  For more details, please see our survey of the soils at Knoll. (Coming soon).

Weingut Knoll from Unterloiben in the Wachau

Click on the map to browse through the village.

Single Vineyards and Lieu Dits in the Wachau, Austria

Map of the Wachau from Vinea Wachau. See below for a highlight of Knoll’s vineyards.

why is Weingut Knoll a Candid Wine? 

Knoll’s Grüner Veltliner from Schütt is one of those rare wines that stops a conversation and demands attention.  Truly memorable wines, and the best white wines in particular, seem to have tremendous depth that is revealed only a few layers at a time but which are never heavy handed.  This was our experience with the Grüner from Schütt, combining as it does light (white pepper) and dark (black olive) flavors while being simultaneously dense and light on the palette.   Our friend Michael Alberty of Storyteller Wine Company in Portland sums it up with this tasting note

“The palate will display beautiful weight and texture and the balance will remind you of Nadia Nerina up on her tippy toes. The flavors of citrus and peach provide a nice counterpoint to the mild pipe tobacco note that swirls around in the background, mingling with intense bursts of saline and talc. Great fruit, great texture, balance and a dazzling display of acidity and minerality add up to one darn fine wine experience.”

Weingut Knoll, Gruner Veltliner, Candid Wines

Loibner Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Knoll

This sort of experience is not limited to just one bottling of Grüner. The family’s focus on each individual site and their efforts to capture both subtle and clear differences between each parcel are a pleasure to explore, one bottle at a time. We look forward to sharing them with Chicagoland.

how is the wine made at Weingut Knoll?

Emmerich Knoll III reminds us of Klaus Peter Keller when it comes to talking about winemaking specifics.  Both avoid talking about the minutiae of their trade, focusing instead on the nature of each individual site.   Knoll is a leading member of the Vinea Wachau, formed in 1983 to preserve and promote the wines of the region.  The core of the Vinea Wachau is the ‘codex” that guides winemaking for all members and insists on purity.   (Read the codex).

Above all is a focus on individual parcels and the different expression the grapes that grow on each.  Pictured at right is the bottom portion of the Schutt vineyard that is planted to Grüner Veltliner, with the Danube in the distance. Riesling alone is planted upslope in the Höhereck vineyard and Loibenberg is divided between the two grapes.  The area is described in great detail in Sommelier Journal, specifically with descriptions of what is planted where and why.  For anyone trying to understand how the wines are made at Knoll, it’s well worth exploring.

Schutt Vineyard Gruner Veltliner Riesling Knoll Austria

Grüner Veltliner (bottom right quadrant) Schutt Vineyard, Knoll. Photo Credit: Jon Elkins, Circo Vino.

Schuett, Loibenberg, Kellerberg, Kreutles vineyard in the Wachau at Knoll

Map of the single vineyards around Unterloiben in Austria.