‘Family, wine, food, life, engaging, innovation, unconventional, experience, enjoyment, eccentricity …..’, these are a few of the many words you come across when you read about Willi Opitz and the culture that has evolved and grown up around his wines, his family’s way of life and their commitment to sharing their genuine, creative passions with wine and food lovers and lovers of life, the world over.
It was only in the early 1980’s that Willi Opitz started making wine with a small vineyard of 1.5 hectares near the shallow lake Neusiedl, in Austria, pretty much as a ‘weekend winemaker’. Willi and his wife Maria started out in, in earnest, in 1995, on a long harboured dream to produce quality, memorable wine. Willi came from an engineering background and Maria was a nurse; today there is no doubt that they are one of the most mesmerising and engaging personalities in the international world of wine. Their wines were noticed straight away and that’s down, in no small part to the character of Willi and Maria themselves, as well as the absolutely stunning wine. In that relatively short time, Willi has become famous for pioneering ‘reed wines’: healthy gapes are left to age for around three months on reed mats, the finished wine is called ‘Schilfwein’. Overall it’s a story of food, wine, passion and innovation, as well family heritage in the making.
You’ll find Opitz Set in the stunning surroundings of Lake Neusidl National Park, near Illmitz, 30 minutes’ drive from Vienna. It’s a short flight from a host of airports in the UK. The winery has an adjoining lodge and modern British styled restaurant. This reflects the classical training that Maria and Willi’s daughter Angela and her husband Iain had in some of London’s finest restaurants. Sitting on the terrace of your comfortable cottage style room with a chilled glass of white wine, watching the sunset, looking forward to the next day’s range tasting and being spoilt by the C.I.A, Angela and Ian’s catering company, which, wait for it, serves ‘criminally good food’, brings you gently into the heart of the Opitz experience. The family are very relaxed and down to earth and guests are looked after personally by a member of the family during their stay. It’s well worth a trip and easy to get to.
Matthew Clark is extremely proud to be associated with Opitz and offer a comprehensive range of their wines to our customers, comprising six of their famed sweet wines, including a Welschriesling Eiswein and the famed Opitz one. We also offer a red wine made from Blaufrankisch (A bit of a mouthful for us Brits), a classic Austrian grape, who’s wines work well with game, lamb and smoked meats; as well as a barrel fermented white made from Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).
What have they got going on at the moment? You have absolutely no idea what to expect when you ask Willi that question! A Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from Toledo as well as a Tempranillo Trockenbeerenauslese feature in a list that contains both current projects, as well as those maturing in his mind, god only knows what it must be like in there! His unalloyed commitment and impetuous passion are injected into every bottle of wine he produces - they are unique. The family’s flagship wine, the bravely named ‘Opitz One’ has earned its deserved place in the book titled ‘The 1000 best wines in the world’. For a musical experience, immerse yourself in ‘The Sound of Wine’ a Willi and Maria creation, harnessing the sounds of fermentation, from the single varietal Pinot Gris, through a more vibrant ‘Quartet’, to the crescendo of a ‘Full Orchestra’. I’m not kidding, click here for a taster!
Willi has shared his expertise with the Star and Castle Hotel, whose winery in the Scilly Isles was recently described by Michael Broadbent as being ‘one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in the world’ and rumour has it that he’s also been asked to craft a Champagne. Now, top this; an admirer of Bill Clinton, Willi decided to make a special wine to celebrate his inauguration, et voila, a case of ‘Mr President’ was sent to Washington. That earned Opitz a new fan as well as an invitation for Willi and Maria to visit the White House! It is also alleged that another famous Austrian actor and politician, now living in America, may also enjoy a glass (Opitz created a small batch labelled ‘Hasta La Vista’), though only as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Matthew Clark and the Opitz family have gotten to know each other well over the past two years and the relationship has added colour and vibrancy that is reigniting a wine category that had sadly stalled, though thankfully, not stopped altogether.
We need to drink more dessert wine, it’s a simple as that. There is no better way, in my unashamedly biased opinion, to finish off a meal – it’s funny, though, that whenever we do pudding wine tastings, folks absolutely love it; they almost can’t believe that flavours like this exist. All we need now is for them to order it when they eat out. The obvious, though impractical solution would be to sell Willi along with every listing – that’d work!
If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.