Skoff Original – Masters of Sauvignon Blanc

Skoff Original
The Skoff Original family estate, which has been producing top wines for more than a decade, is located in the picturesque landscape of southern Austria, in Styria. Walter Skoff is a perfectionist, a master whose hands produce stunning, age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc wines that mature beautifully in oak.

Skoff Original wines are a blend of old and new

Walter and Joachim Skoff are the fourth and fifth generations of the Skoff winemaking family. Walter and Joachim are the perfect combination of Walter’s more than 30 years of winemaking experience in southern Styria and Joachim’s fresh ideas from around the world, where he has worked in vineyards in New Zealand, Chile, South Africa and elsewhere. Father and son share a common goal; to produce some of the best wines in Styria, culminating both in the soil and in the excellence of the cellar work.

Skoff Original landscape
The premises are located in the picturesque landscape of Styria.

Roots firmly planted on the slopes of Styria

The farm owns 60 hectares of its own crops and buys 40 hectares from contract growers, whose methods are tightly controlled by perfectionist Walter Skoff. Annual production is 600 000 bottles. The vineyards are located within a 15 km radius of Eckberg’s cellar, which means they stay close to home. The vineyards have 13 plots of their own. Soils are varying widely from sand in Obegg and fossil limestone in Hochsulz. In the Gamlitz area, there is no flat terrain anywh, so all the plots are characterised by a more or less steep profile.

In summer the temperatures are typical of the Mediterranean region, but the nights are quite cool, allowing fruity, if intense and acidic, grapes to be grown.

Skoff Original with taro

What about global warming?

Global warming is not Walter Skoff’s concern. There are parcels not only on the southern slopes but also on the south-eastern and south-western slopes. Even on the southern slopes, the frequent winds cool the grapes so that they have not yet ripened too early in a hot year. Cold or rainy summers are still a bigger problem.
There is a steady move towards organic methods, but there is still so much water from the sky that organic certification is not yet on the horizon. Organic production has little means of fighting mildews.

Skoff Original new seedling
Production is expanding from in-house plantings and contract growers.

Where is the market for Skoff wines?

Austrians like to enjoy their own country’s wines, so 80% of sales are to the domestic market.
However, the international medals won by Obegg Sauvignon blanc and Royal Sauvignon blanc have created a solid 20% base for exports. These beautifully ageing wines are well suited to both American and Asian wine enthusiasts.

Skoff Original couple
Opera singer Eva Liebau and winemaker Walter Skoff. If this isn’t a couple on the hills of happiness, what is?
Skoff Original Restaurant
The space also has a few rooms for guests to stay in, as well as its own restaurant.
Skoff Original Dessert
See the handprint of a perfectionist at the restaurant too; the dessert has its own logo.

Quality and growth

So far, the vineyard’s production has always sold the year after it was harvested, so confidence in the market is high. It casts faith in the future and in investment. The estate is constantly looking for expansion opportunities- The parcel hectares are increasing year by year. However growth through land purchase is relatively difficult in Austria, where the average farm size is one hectare. It takes a lot of knocking on doors before you have another ten hectares under your belt. It is therefore quicker to increase production through contract farmers.

Skoff Original new rows
Perfectionist Walter Skoff plants his wines in precise rows for himself. The wines don’t care one way or the other.

Skoff Original wine tasting

There’s plenty to explore in every style of wine – from sparkling to sweet. It was getting late in the evening, so we had to concentrate on tasting only white wines. Whatever the price range, oak or steel, the mark of Walter Skoff’s paintbrush is unmistakable. As he said himself: I want to make wines that taste like something to be remembered.

Skoff Original Walter Skoff
Skoff Original Sauvignon Blanc
Skoff Original and the cellar lady
The cellar Saint works long days protecting the wine treasures.
Skoff Original Wine Cellar
Skoff Original is a master at oak matured Sauvignon Blancs.

The use of oak in the making of Sauvignon Blanc is not exactly an everyday practice. In fact, the grape is associated with fresh wines drunk young (apart from a small clique from decades ago called Fumé Blanc ). This prejudice can now be buried. Oak and ageing suit Sauvignon Blanc at least as well as for Chardonnay.

Skoff Original wine tasting

Weißburgunder Classique 2013
Aroma of lime, grass, ripe apricot. There is body in the wine but also a fine acidity, a light mineral finish. Tasty and distinctive Pinot Blanc.

Grassnitzberg Weißburgunder 2011
Ripened apple, mango, citrus, almond and petrol on a complex nose. Broad and elegant on the palate with a dry balanced mouthfeel smoothed by oak.

Grassnitzberg Weißburgunder vintage 2010
As above but with aromas tighter within the wine. Excellent and fast developing wine. Certainly at its best on four years of age.

Royal Chardonnay 2012
Big oak on the nose. Soil minerals on display as a slightly smoky flint behind the tropical ripe fruit familiar to Skoff. Balanced acidity and fine mouthfeel. Still young.

Morillon Classique 2013
Morillon stands for Chardonnay in Styria. Ripe apple nose with grapefruit skin. Smooth acidity, honey melon and a slightly grapefruit bitter finish.

Grassnitzberg Morillon 2010
A well-developed and personal nose with hints of caramel. Oaky nuttiness. The broad wine is like velvet. The acids are balanced. Good fruitiness.

Grassnitzberg Sauvignon blanc 2012
Maturely aromatic nose. Grass and herbs – clean palate. Tropical fruit and peppers. Minerality and grapefruit bitterness on the finish.

Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc 2012
A gooseberry-flavoured wine with a chalky minerality of the palate on display. Broad and balanced on the palate, with a rising acidity.

Hochsulz Sauvignon blanc 2012
Multi-layered but elegant on the nose, with a touch of tropical and gooseberry. Ascending acidity and length on the palate, with minerals and grapefruit supporting the finish. The oak is just a hint in this package, so the wine is very free-flowing.

Obegg Sauvignon blanc 2011
Such oak right out of the gate. The familiar ripe tropical aromas follow. Fine petrol notes. A multidimensional adventure. Fruity on the palate, with really balanced acidity and a great mineral finish.

Royal Sauvignon blanc 2012
Award-winning Sauvignon blanc is Walter Skoff’s crown jewel. I tasted this wine some years back in a tasting which it won – hands down.
The aroma alone is like a exiting rollercoaster. A very intense blend of fresh exotic fruit and gooseberries. Dried plums. The taste is pure elegance. Balanced blend of acidity and fruit, silkiness smoothed by oak. Still fresh but certainly enjoyable now.

Royal Sauvignon blanc 2008
And here’s another example of how the crown jewel starts to age – dazzlingly fine.
An explosion of flavour; caramel, gooseberry, wild berry and honey. A broad fruity palate in perfect harmony with gooseberry-like acidity. Elegant and mineral finish. An unbelievable performance.

Skoff Original’s visit left an indelible impression. Open, warm people making excellent wines – in the dreamy, hilly landscape of Styria.
Walter Skoff’s original and perfectionist winemaking style, with decades of experience, combined with top palates, are the weapons that will be in demand whatever the economic climate will be.

Yes, it became clear during this visit that oak is a perfect match for Sauvignon Blanc – at least in the hands of a master. Walter Skoff has been nicknamed as Mr. Sauvignon Blanc for a good reason.

Text: Janne Suomi
Photos: Janne Suomi and Sami Issakainen

Last Updated on June 5, 2022 by Flavorado

This post is also available in: Suomi

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Janne Suomi

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