Weingut Bernard Ott – Regaining Trust in the Rhythms of Nature

Weingut Bernard Ott – Regaining Trust in the Rhythms of Nature.

‘Ich bin ein Veltliner’ 

Please meet Bernhard Ott, the man behind this striking quote with historical nod. Ott (1972) is a man of great stature, both literally and figuratively. His work is as imposing as his physical attendance. Bernhard Ott ranks amongst the best Austrian winemakers. Falstaff declared him ‘Winemaker of the Year’ and his wines are highly appreciated by wine critics. The epithet ‘Mister Veltliner’ is self-evident, as almost his whole assortment is built upon Grüner Veltliner. Who hopes for bravado however will be disappointed. Bernhard Ott seems the epitome of humility. His gentle melodious voice sells out his unpretentiousness. It is almost controversial to hear a man of this greatness passionately talking about tomatoes grown by his neighbor. 

Best of Both Worlds

It is the early 1990’s when Bernhard Ott takes over his family winery. It is situated in Wagram, close to the border of Kamptal. The domain owns 60 hectares of vineyards, of which two thirds in Wagram and one third in Kamptal. The vineyards are located on southern exposed hills, on elevations fluctuating from 200 to 374 meters above sea level. They are exposed to both warm influences from the east and cold influences from the northwest. The diurnal swing is significant: differences between day and night temperatures can reach up to 20 degrees Celsius. Where almost all the vineyards are planted with Grüner Veltliner, some poor top hill spots are planted with Riesling.

Bernhard Ott is member of the Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (‘ÖTW’), a group of leading Austrian wineries of Kamptal, Kremstal, Traisental and Wagram. ÖTW could be seen as Austrian equivalent of the German VDP. The best vineyards are designating as ÖTW Erste Lage (1ÖTW) and ÖTW Grosse Lage (GÖTW). Weingut Bernhard Ott owns 3 Erste Lagen: Spiegel, Stein and Rosenberg. We will share our tasting notes on these wines later in this article.

Weingut Bernhard Ott.

Unlearning Technical Winemaking

The work of Bernhard Ott turns out to be successful and the winery is growing. Grow however gives insufficient satisfaction. Ott starts asking himself questions about the future of his winemaking. ‘Making good wines from bad grapes is easy. It is called technical winemaking. Technical winemaking however makes no sense to me.’ In his quest to a new perspective on winemaking, Ott investigates the origin of wine. He starts making natural amphora wines like in Georgia. ‘I had to find my trust in nature back.’ He experiments with natural fermentations, skin- and stem fermentations and working without sulfur. It is this project that lays the foundation for Ott’s reinvented winemaking style. A style that best can be described as ‘Naturnah’ – close to nature. 

Refinding Natural Trust

Bernhard Ott is one of the founding fathers of biodynamic association respekt-BIODYN. ‘If you want healthy grapes, you have to go back to nature.’ And it is nature where he can talk about for hours. About compost – ‘we make our own compost out of cow manure, straw and pruning waste’ – homegrown products – ‘we have beautiful honey and apricots’ – and the phase of the moon – ‘full moon is growing, new moon is concentration.’ According to Bernhard Ott Biodynamic farming is not just a pleasant avocation; it is the key to climate change. ‘Vines get power from the soil. Due to the chemical’s phenolic ripeness of conventional cultivated grapes stays behind sugar ripeness. Chemicals work like antibiotics: the vines will not become perfectly healthy. Biodynamic cultivated vines achieve phenolic ripeness without too much sugar accumulation.’ 

Ott uses teas like chamomile and horsetail to treat his vines. The use of copper against mold is a controversial topic in organic farming. Copper is a heavy metal and does not break down in nature. For our Dutch readers we refer to this article by Joep Speet Magister Vini and the article by Lars Daniels Magister Vini in the May 2024 edition of Dutch magazine Perswijn. Daniels: ‘Despite demonstrable problems of copper use in viticulture it is not forbidden yet, because there are no solid (understand: effective and affordable) alternatives for organic winegrowers.’ Ott is aware of the disadvantages of copper. He partly uses copper out of algae and increases the effectiveness by using ventilators. 

Weingut Bernhard Ott’s Vineyards in Wagram and Kamptal.

Stems and Barrels

Ask Bernhard Ott to designate a decisive factor in the style of his wines and he undoubtedly will mention stems. All the grapes are hand-picked and macerated with stems. In the vision of Ott stems are part of the terroir. And not least it is a matter of taste. ‘I just love that crispiness, spiciness and even slightly bitterness of stems.’ Talking about wood: the cellar of Ott is stocked with large Franz Stockinger casks. The wood is cut on the right time of the moon and stored up to 14 years in natural circumstances. Snoop around in the winery and you will find historical tools like a basket press and a paper sheet filter. Classical winemaking takes a new dimension at Weingut Bernhard Ott.

Bernhard Ott in his Home Region.


Ott cares about his vines as much he cares about his employees. ‘We have a wonderful group of people. They are feeling like family to me.’ Bernhard’s wife takes care of the physical well-being of the team: everyday lunches are involved with organic food. ‘I love pairing great dishes with great wines.’ And that is where the wines of Bernard Ott are talking about. They are talking about drinking pleasure. They are pure, juicy and precise. Bernard confirms: ‘I want a pure and elegant Grüner Veltliner. I do not want a technical Grüner Veltliner smelling like Sauvignon Blanc.’

We Present to you: The Wines

In pleasant and knowledgeable company, we had the privilege to taste some of Bernhard Ott’s wines. Below you will find our findings and ratings.

The Weingut Bernhard Ott Line-up for the Day.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Cuvée Spectrum 2023 (cask sample)

The unfiltered ‘Cuvee Spectrum’ is a tribute to the varieties planted by the previous generations. It is mainly a field blend of a whole spectrum of grapes, including Traminer, Grüner Veltliner, Roter Veltliner, Welschriesling, Silvaner, Neuburger, Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc. The shortly skin macerated and big casks fermented wine undergoes full malolactic conversion. The result is a highly interesting and uncommon glass of wine. It is aromatic, pure, clean and fresh, showing flavors of green herbs and fresh tree fruits. Salivating acids, a grippy bitterness and a pleasant lee texture ensure great drinking pleasure.

We award this wine with a 90-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Rosalie 2023

Rosalie is named after Bernhard Ott’s daughter. It is a blend of Zweigelt and Pinot Noir. The wine shows a pronounced chalky and spicy bouquet: fresh red berries are accompanied by flavors of chalk, wet stone and ginger. First, the wine is succulent and juicy, but the wine excels in its freshness and structure. Rosalie is not your everyday rosé. Spicy ginger, a teasing bitterness and a yeasty texture makes Rosalie a pleasant gastronomic rosé.

We award this wine with a 91-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Riesling Kabin(o)tt 2020

Kabin(o)tt 2020 is a Riesling in Kabinett style. A textbook example if you ask us. Kabinett is about drinking pleasure and balance and that is exactly what Kabin(o)tt 2020 does. Kabin(o)tt 2020 gives ripe melon fruits and a lick of flower honey. Its fruitiness, lushness and juiciness are well balanced by uplifting acids. Kabin(o)tt 2020 is a well-balanced and well-made Riesling Kabinett.

We award this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Riesling Ried Kirchtal 2017

The well-developed Riesling Ried Kirchtal 2017 opens with an open bouquet with green herbal notes, citrus fruit and open yellow stone fruits. The palate is quite intense with high and linear acids, surrounded juicy ripe peach and melon and backed up by a pungent flinty minerality. It is joyful, fruitful and elegant. 

We award this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Riesling Ried Kirchtal 2021

The Riesling Ried Kirchtal 2021 vintage obviously is in its youthful stage now. It is quite compact at the moment, but wonderful balanced already. The fruit is fresh and gentle, dominated by citrus- and tree fruits. It is showing exciting potential by its juiciness, purity and great acidity. 

We award this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Am Berg 2023

Grüner Veltliner Am Berg is Bernard Ott’s basic level Grüner Veltliner. Am Berg 2023 shows the bar of Weingut Bernhard Ott is set high. The wine is fruit driven, but there is more. Underneath the pure and gentle stone fruits there is saltiness and energy. It is hard to pinpoint, but we see parallels between the wines of Bernhard Ott and wines from other respekt-BIODYN members. In all their wines there seems to be that gentle, humble and crystal clear – almost transparent fruit – exposing underlaying minerality. Grüner Veltliner Am Berg 2023 by Weingut Bernhard Ott is excellent value for money.

We award this wine with a 91-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Fass No 4 2023

After the takeover, Bernhard Ott want to get rid of the name Fass 4. The name refers to oak barrel of his father and Bernard wants to stop production in barrels. Fass 4 however, turned out to be a sought after brand name, so Bernard decided to keep the name. ‘Fass 4 has become our signature wine. It represents our idea.’ In general, the profile of Fass 4 looks a bit like Am Berg, but Fass 4 comes across more serious and structured. The grapes for Fass 4 are sourced from the middle of the vineyards, leading into more concentration. The grapes also undergo longer skin- and stem maceration. Profound acids lead flawless fruits across a gripping texture into a long-lasting aftertaste. 

We award this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Der Ott 2023 (barrel sample)

Grüner Veltliner Der Ott 2023 is made from young vines from vineyards intended for the single vineyard wines. Der Ott comes across quite comfortable and fruit forward. On the bouquet we find ripe fruits apricot and yellow apple, a handful of green herbs and a pinch of white pepper. On the palate the wine is broad and mouth filling. Creamy and rich yellow fruits are worn by a grippy texture. Supporting acids prevent from opulence. 

We award this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Gmirk 2023 (barrel sample)

The Grüner Veltliner grapes for the Ried Gmirk 2023 are sourced from the east facing single vineyard called Gmirk – which refers to Gemarkung, meaning Border in German. Gmirk is a relative colder vineyard with chalky soils, resulting in a lean style Grüner Veltliner. The elegant wine shows a pronounced peppery character. Fresh green fruits are worn by a salty minerality and mouthwatering acids lead into a long-lasting herbal aftertaste. Gmirk 2023 impresses with tension, purity and precision. 

We award this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Spiegel 1ÖTW 2021

Ried Spiegel 1ÖTW is an elevated single vineyard of which the soils consist of red gravel and löss. The vineyard is influenced by cold northern winds. ‘Spiegel always has the highest acidity levels and extreme freshness.’ This 2021 Ried Spiegel truly is a ravishing wine. It gives touching flavours of soft and pure yellow fruit and ginger. The pristine fruit is concentrated and weightless caused by crystal clear acids. There is gentle roundness, intense salinity and flintiness. All leading into a long-lasting aftertaste.  

We award this wine with a 95-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Spiegel 1ÖTW 2018

Compared to the exemplary well-balanced vintage 2021, the warmer 2018 comes across more fruit dominated. Although the fruit is slightly riper and sumptuous, the wine strikes in its balance. Keywords we noted are breadth, clear juice, saline and balancing acids. 

We award this wine with a 94-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Stein 1ÖTW 2021

Ried Stein 1ÖTW is located in Kamptal and first cultivated by Stift Göttweig monks in 1422. The soil consists of black Gneiss and sand. Stein 2021 needs time to open, showing an herbal, stony and peppery bouquet. It is dense, captivating and suspenseful. The balance between its pure and ripe fruits and its salty minerality is incredible. We find a slightly yeasty character and a teasing bitterness and a long lasting green herbal aftertaste.

We award this wine with a 95-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Stein 1ÖTW 2020

This cooler vintage 2020 of Grüner Veltliner Ried Stein 1ÖTW gives it a slightly different profile. The fruit is fresh and crisp, mostly green tree fruits. It is highly energetic, with a salty minerality, good grip and stunning acids. Again, an outstanding wine.

We award this wine with a 95-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Rosenberg 1ÖTW 2021

Ried Rosenberg 1ÖTW is Bernard Ott’s oldest vineyard. This löss soil dominated vineyard is located next to Ried Spiegel 1ÖTW. The wine is very young and needs time to open. It is showing floral aromas, later followed by white peach and a touch of smoke and flint. On the palate the wine is incredible energetic and expressive. Weightless silky and juicy fruits are touching the palate, wrapped around a grippy core. Long lasting acids leave a clean and peppery impression. 

We award this wine with a 95-point DWA score.

Weingut Bernhard Ott – Grüner Veltliner Ried Rosenberg 1ÖTW 2019

‘We only have 12 bottles left, but it is very important for me to show you this wine because Rosenberg 2019 is one of the first Rosenberg’s meeting my ideas.’ Well, we can see why. Direct after pouring is comes across a bit reductive, but once it has woken up, you will not sleep again. Grüner Veltliner Ried Rosenberg 1ÖTW 2019 shows pure power and an electrifying energy. The fruit is sparkling fresh – mostly fresh tree fruits – and incredible precise. Its stony and peppery minerality, savory texture, vibrant acids and a very long-lasting aftertaste makes Grüner Veltliner Ried Rosenberg 1ÖTW 2019 an outstanding glass of wine. 

We award this wine with a 96-point DWA score.

The Vinotheque at Weingut Bernhard Ott.

The Enduring Legacy of Bernhard Ott

We started this article mentioning greatness. Bernhard Ott shows us greatness is not an equivalent to grandstanding. The wines of Weingut Bernhard Ott show greatness can talk about digestibility. Greatness can talk about gentleness. Greatness can talk about nature. There is greatness in the rhythms of nature. We just have to listen to it. 

We think we have become Veltliners now.

This article is written by our own Hermen Jansen, in response of a diner at Ted’s Bistro in Maarssen, organized by Pallas Wines. The wines of Weingut Bernhard Ott are available in the Dutch market through selected partners of Pallas Wines.