Franz Strohmeier is a humble genius. He speaks at a timid volume that makes you pay attention. Fortunately, his wines mirror this personality, as well as the nuances of his vineyard.
His farming methods are calculated. They come from experience and sharing information with similar grape growers, both locally and internationally. Instead of sulphur in the vineyard, he uses whey, which has been incredibly effective. Copper sulfate is unavoidable, but the amount he uses year to year varies drastically based on conditions; he listens to the vineyard. He farms as a permaculture. Bees, deer, birds, and a plethora of wild vegetation contribute to the health of his vineyard. He believes that vineyards can build up resistances to certain ailments the same way humans can when they’re not babied. He may not subscribe to biodynamics but he certainly uses many of its teachings.
In the winery he is equally pragmatic, using sulfur when necessary, but preferring to forgo any additives when possible. He is in no rush to release the wines either. If they haven’t settled to an appropriate degree, they will stay in barrel as necessary.
The TLZ (Trauben, Liebe & Zeit – Grapes, Love & Time) line represents wines with no fining, filtration, or sulphur. They often contain multiple vintages and varieties as to show the character of the vineyard even better. The wines Franz produces are the most honest and transparent examples of terroir I have ever tasted.
Schilcher is a traditional style of wine made in Styria; they tend to be quaffable, still wines but Franz has decided to make a serious, traditional method sparkling rosé instead. 35-40-year-old Blauer Wildbacher vines are the base for this wine. The juice is fermented on the skins for 12 hours before being gently pressed off into stainless steel. Once it is settled, the wine is bottled with a small amount of sugar and yeast where it ferments to 2.5 bar. The final wine sees 20ppm of sulphur and no dosage. 11% ABV
This wine is made from Blauer Wildbacher from 35-40 year old vines. The skins soak with the juice for ten hours before being lightly pressed off into stainless steel. It spends eight months on the lees before being bottled with a small amount of super ripe reserve wine aged in oak barrels. A small amount of yeast and sugar are added for secondary fermentation, after which the wine spends and additional year on lees. The final wine retains 5 bars of pressure and has no dosage. No sulphur was used at any point in the winemaking process. 12% ABV
TLZ WEIß Nº7
Pinot Blanc makes up the lion’s share of this blend with chardonnay filling in the gaps. Soils are made primarily from gneiss with a high iron and silica content. The juice spends a mere two hours on the skins before being pressed off into 500L neutral oak for fermentation and élevage. The final wine is a combination of the 2014 and 2015 vintage, bottled without fining, filtration, nor sulphur. 11.5% ABV
TLZ SONNE Nº5
Sauvignon Blanc from a vineyard block called Bad Gams is used for this cuvée. Destemmed grapes are fermented on the skins in large oak barrels for four weeks before being pressed off. Élevage is done in 500L acacia and oak barrels for eleven months. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered with no sulphur. 12% ABV
TLZ WEIN DER STILLE Nº6
Sauvignon Blanc with a tiny percentage of co-planted Chardonnay, Weißburgunder, and Muskateller make up this blend. Franz only uses the ripest clusters from a vineyard block called Stainz for this cuvée. Whole clusters are added to 500L and 600L barrels where they ferment and macerate for a full year before being pressed off. The resulting wine is settled in old oak barrels for a further year before bottling. 13.5% ABV
TLZ ROT Nº6
This wine is made from 75% Zweigelt and 25% Blauer Wildbacher from the Bad Gams vineyard. Whole clusters are fermented in barrel and permitted to sit with the skins for a year. The wine is then pressed off and aged for a further year in barrel before being bottled unfined, unfiltered and with no added sulphur. 12.5% ABV
TLZ INDIGO Nº1
This release is made entirely from Blauer Wildbacher. The grapes are destemmed and fermented on the skins for 3 weeks before being pressed off into small (225L, 300L, and 500L) oak barrels. It spends 18 months in these barrels before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulphur. 12% ABV