In general, Blaufrankisch is picked later than Zweigelt and has thicker skins; versaison is about 1 week later. For her first Blaufrankisch she selects from different vineyard sites in Halbturn and Gols; the vines average 15 years old. The soils are known as Seewinkelschotter, sandy-limestone-gravel.
Judith Beck and her team pick all of the fruit by hand and sort the grapes in the vineyard and at the winery before de-stemming. Fermentation occurs spontaneously, triggered only by the grapes’ native yeasts, in stainless steel tanks. Beck circulates the fermenting juice over the cap of grape skins twice per day for the first 10 days to attain a balanced level of extraction. The young wine is then racked off its skins and moved into 1000-2000 liter, neutral acacia wood casks for two months where it completes its malolactic fermentations. It is then transferred to 4-6 year old barriques for 8-10 months of aging. Beck matures her Blaufrankisch in two phases in wood in order to attain the round, complex and vivid style she seeks. The Blaufrankisch is assembled in September.
Beck makes only 500 cases of this Blaufrankisch and it is superb. it has a chewy, plush texture with generous dark cherry, cassis and plum fruit nuanced by herbs and a touch of minerality. It is a highly versatile wine, complementing virtually all types of food and cuisines.
The Judith Beck estate is based in the commune of Gols, in the Neusiedlersee region, on the eastern side of the Lake Neusiedl. Gols is part of the larger Burgenland region in easternmost Austria, with a very warm climate defined by the Pannonian plain and the Lake, whose temperatures reach 90 degrees in the summer and is only 1.5 meters deep. Indeed, this is the country’s warmest wine growing area and the first to harvest. It is the center of the production of Austria’s finest dry and full-bodied red wines.
The family estate was founded in 1976 by Matthias and Christine Beck. Their daughter, Judith, assumed full control of the winery in 2004, having made her first vintage in 2001. After graduating from the Klosterneuburg Viniculture College Judith Beck gained international experience at world-renowned wineries, including Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux, Braida in Piedmont and Errazuriz in Chile. Managing the family winery comes naturally to Judith who has an innate “sixth-sense” for the regional varieties Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent.
Judith Beck owns a total of 13. 5 hectares of vines in Gols, with holdings in the vineyard sites Altenberg, Gabarinza, Salzberg and Schafleiten. 85% of the area is planted to red varieties - Blauer Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir and Merlot, with the remaining 15% planted to white varieties - Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. In addition, grapes are brought in from another 5 hectares in the communes of Apetlon, Halbturn and Winden, and used in the production of the basic red wines. Vines are planted at high densities of up to 7,000 vines per hectare to limit yields and ensure ripe fruit at harvest time. Soils range from loam and clay on the lower vineyards to limestone, higher up on the ridges.
The Becks built an impressive new production and aging cellar in 2005. It allows Judith to manipulate her wines as little as possible in the vinification process, resulting in wines of pure and vivid expression of the variety and unique vintage character. Judith Beck’s wines are at once elegant, powerful, complex and possess good aging potential.
Judith and her father Matthias practiced sustainable viticulture from the outset, and converted to bio-dynamic practice with the 2007 vintage. She uses only native yeasts in the fermentation process. The Red wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, in new bariques or in open vats. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation in new barriques or in large oak barrels. Some of the red wines are also matured in large oak vats, some of which are quite old, and are already being used by the third generation of owners.
The top-level Reds, including the St. Laurent Schafleiten, Pinot Noir, Pannobile Red (a blend of 55% Zweigelt, 35% Blaufrankisch, and 10% St. Laurent), Judith (50% Blaufrankisch, 30% St. Laurent, 20% Merlot) are fermented and matured in small barriques of which a small proportion is new each year.
The estate is a member of the Pannobile association, as well as of “11 Frauen und ihre Weine” (11 Women and their Wines)
The philosophy of the state is aptly put by Judith: “Wine and the joy of living and pleasure all go hand in hand. We prefer wines which captivate all of our senses with each new bottle and each new sip.”