Maria & Sepp Muster
It looks exactly like cloudy lemonade. The kind of sugared and citric delight you’d expect to see swimming in melting ice in cheap plastic cups at a kids makeshift lemonade stand outside a church or a hardware store; a flapping hand-drawn sign and their sad yet smiling face asking for your support to help raise funds for a cat shelter or to repair the trampoline in the school gym. If they were serving the Muster wines (in melting ice or not) (in plastic cups or not) (preferably sans ice, though I don’t really mind the plastic) I’d probably buy enough to pay for the goddamn trampoline myself and maybe even a few tins of sardines for the orphaned felines. Such is the allure, the eloquence, the hook, line and sinker of the wines of Maria and Sepp Muster.
It smells like iced-lollies or popsicles or ice-blocks or whatever you call them in your corner of the world. It smells like the chlorinated atmosphere of a public swimming pool packed with revellers. It smells like the lime marmalade my Nana so favoured. It smells a little bit like rotting fruit. And mojitos. And the breeze you’d capture in the late afternoons on the kind of vacations that big city dwellers take to escape high-rises and heavy traffic, just to sit somewhere quiet for five minutes. Whether from the juliet balcony of the five star resort or the broken steps of the dime-hostel the lap of the waves sound the same, the blue curl of the sea caressing the calm sky chooses not to discriminate, for paradise (and wine) belongs to all of us. Such is the whimsy of the wines of Maria and Sepp Muster.
It tastes of innocence and mischief; (an unlikely pairing, I know) like somehow the makers have managed to capture a playfulness and a sense of curiosity in the wine and at the same time hold the raw and honest pleasure of rustic, hand-drawn juice you’d hope to find in the farmhouses of yesteryear. It’s the kind of cloudy zinger that you could imagine folks slurping from clay mugs or pewter beakers hundreds if not thousands of years ago. You can almost feel the squish of skins and plump flesh underfoot (or under-tongue, rather) and it comes at you like a rush of blood to the heart: sudden and sure. And it’ll awaken you like that second doppio espresso after a night on the lash or that time you were moving house and got a jolt when you unplugged the loosely-wired old toaster. It’ll awaken your tastebuds like that dangerously tiny jalapeño or that raw onion or those texan chillies or the Szechuan soup, or the first time you had wasabi, or the first time you drank ‘good’ champagne or swallowed an oyster and something in your brain struck like a match catching alight against a rough surface. Such is the spell of the wines of Maria and Sepp Muster.
It’s all citrus and freshly cut grass. And damp earth. And sour candy. And tennis ball fuzz. And so-named after the rocky clay and silt over chalky marl subsoil (Opok) on which the young vines struggle and flourish and into which they burrow and from which Maria and Sepp Muster pick, pluck and turn this blended and beautiful mouthful. The cépage: Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller, Morillon (Chardonnay), is itself a mark of the sense of play at play here and together neither grape speaks over the other, neither trait overwhelms the other, and that is not to say there is a sense of harmony in the wine, either. Quite the opposite. It actually hits the senses like a tender conflict. It throws lime-zest and lemongrass and a little ginger, and then shifts gears to give saline-crush and green apple and soft honey-suckle and not knowing which way it’ll pitch next the wine settles almost for not settling at all. And that is not to say that the wine is volatile, either. The wine is very well made and stable, even though it seems still not sure what kind of wine it wants to be. And in those mirky waters, in that grey area, in those kinky boots it walks and wanders across the palate: uncertain and yet most alive and like the wisest of the fools among us having not forgotten the importance of play. Such is the insistence of the wines of Maria and Sepp Muster.
It might be the fact that the vineyards Sepp Muster inherited from his father were only ever farmed without herbicides and pesticides. It might be the ageing in big used oak barrels. It might be the certified biodynamic practice (since 2003) in the vineyards. It might even be the elegant and simple labels crafted by the late Beppo Pliem. It might be the curious cépage or the perfectly sound and sensitive and sensible approach of the dynamic duo. It might be the limestone and clay silt. It might be that the wine is satisfying in the way that lemon sorbet is satisfying, whether had between courses at an intensely long (and yet delicious) degustation or on hot days standing carefree and barefoot on the street. It may be all of these. Or none. It may be just one of those things. One of those crazy flings. One of those bells. Such is the push and pull of a wine like this. Such are the wines of Maria and Sepp Muster. Such is the ‘Opok’.
tasted June 2021