- Sudsteiermark, Styria, Austria
I am possibly repeating myself in saying that Armin Tement (supported by brother Stefan and his wife Monika as well as his parents Manfred and Heidi) has made Weingut Tement Austria’s number one wine producer. Although it has been one of the country’s finest wine addresses already during the 1990s and 2000s by Armin’s father Manfred, the son has pushed the limits even farther. In terms of size, sophisticated winemaking and the immense range of high-quality wines, I don’t see anybody else producing wine on this level in Austria...”
—Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
Armin Tement happily joined his family winery in Sudsteiermark (South Styria) in 2005. His father, Manfred Tement, had over time, firmly established Weingut Tement as a benchmark producer for Styrian Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon. Manfred was one of the founders of STK (Styrian Terroir and Klassik Wine growers association) in 1986. STK was established because there were no government regulations established at the time for making fine wine in the region. Manfred preferred Sauvignon Blanc to the most widely planted and highly productive Welschriesling. It was a big step to prioritize quality over quantity and eventually in 1991, Tement was recognized by the German magazine, Der Feinschmecker, for making the ‘world’s best Sauvignon Blanc’, essentially putting Tement and this small winegrowing region on the international wine map.
When Armin joined in 2005, his goal was not only to make an unequivocal Styrian wine, but also a wine that expresses, in his words, ‘Tement’s own style”. With the support of the family, Armin began following organic agriculture, eventually converting all eighty hectares over the next ten years and becoming certified organic in the 2018 vintage. South Styria gets a lot of rain and incredibly, Armin, Stefan, and Manfred are in the process to converting to biodynamic agriculture and they should be certified in 2022 by both Demeter and Respekt. There are three main weather influences that are a part of the terroir here: the Adriatic Sea to the south brings storms and rain, the Pannonian Plain brings hot and dry weather, and the Alps bring cool air at night.
Styria is one of the three major growing regions in Austria and it’s the smallest with 4,633 hectares planted. The subregion of Sudsteiermark, or South Styria, covers 2,563 hectares and it lies on the border with Slovenia. Styria is quite different from the rest of Austria as the main white varietal is neither Grüner nor Riesling, but Sauvignon Blanc! Other white varieties also do well here, notably Gelber Muskateller, Pinot Blanc, and Morillon, the local name for Chardonnay. In Sudsteiermark, the wines are categorized by quality level, with regional wines at the entry level, village wines are a step up in quality and represent the terroir of the village, and the single vineyard wines are the pinnacle. All of the wines are labeled “Sudsteiermark DAC”. Tement makes wines from three villages, Erenhausen, Gamlitz, and Kitzeck-Sausal. And the highest quality wines are single vineyard sites which are designated either Erste Lagen or Grosse Lagen, the equivalent of premier cru or grand cru. The most famous site in Sudsteiermark is Zieregg where both Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon are planted.
Tement is specialized in making exceptional single-vineyard wines, but the flagship is the regional Sudsteiermark Sauvignon Blanc “Kalk & Kreide”. It is a blend from fifty sites and the name describes the main terroir, limestone and clay. Like all of their wines, the grapes are harvested by hand, undergo a maceration of twelve to twenty-four hours and then fermentation happens spontaneously with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. “Kalk & Kreide” is aged on the lees for six months before release. All of the wines are spontaneously fermented and are made without any sulfur during vinification or aging. They only get a little sulfur one month before bottling, allowing the wines to get a full expression of their site. The single-vineyard wines are fermented and aged in large neutral oak barrels for eighteen to twenty-four months and are bottled without filtration. Some wines do not get sulfur for more than 24 months, and yet the single-vineyard wines are incredibly precise and express their terroir brilliantly.
Over the last fifteen years, the gradual changes taking place have garnered a lot of attention, but it’s worth noting that the whole family is involved. Armin works with his brother, Stefan, who joined him in 2010. His father is still working as well, although Armin officially took the reins in 2008. Armin’s wife, Monika is also involved in keeping everything running smoothly. And Armin’s mother runs the recently established B and B. All that Weingut Tement has accomplished in the last fifty years is incredibly impressive and it's made it not only one of the most important wineries in South Styria, but also in Austria. Tement has become an icon in South Styria and Austria and the accolades are well deserved. Bowler is incredibly honored to welcome the Tement family and their wines to the portfolio.