Uncorked: Lenz Moser
Lenz Moser V is a fifth generation member of the Lenz Moser Austrian winemaking dynasty. Having sold his shares in his family wine company four years ago, Moser swapped Europe for Asia and is currently chief winemaker at Château Changyu-Moser XV in northern China’s Ningxia region. Passionate about putting Chinese wine on the world wine map, Moser is in the process of converting the 250-hectare Château Changyu Moser XV to biodynamic viticulture and hopes to be certified in three years. He is also working on an ‘icon’ wine that aims to take on the best in China.
What bottle sparked your love of wine?
From a very young age I was fascinated with the world of wine, thanks to my grandfather, who took me off to the vineyards to taste the grapes and check the vines. But it was at the age of 18, during my first stay in Bordeaux at Château Kirwan with the Schÿler family, that I began to truly immerse myself into the world of fine wine. This was the start of a lifelong love of Bordeaux for me.
If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
I love Cabernet Sauvignon and Grüner Veltliner. My heart would go with the Austrian indigenous variety that I have worked with for most of my life – it is still one of my favourite ‘go to’ white wines.
My head would choose Cabernet as it’s the greatest variety on the planet. A bottle of a good Cab is like feasting in heaven. Just last night I enjoyed a bottle of Rubicon by Inglenook 2016 along with my Chateau Changyu Moser XV 2016 – both wonderful and delicious with steak frites.
When are you happiest?
I have had a very happy life so far. Growing up with four sisters, I was rather spoilt by my parents, who have always supported me and encouraged me along my winemaking journey, working with my father at Lenz Moser winery in Austria and then setting up Mondavi Europe with the close support and mentorship of Bob Mondavi. And then China!
These days I am super happy to stand in the vineyards in Ningxia and to see first-hand the wonderful results that Chinese wine is achieving, playing my part in helping to put Chinese wines on the world wine map. The happiest moment of my life so far was when I held my twin daughters, Anna and Sophie, for the first time just after they were born.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
Taking a short vacation with my wife and not checking emails for a long weekend.
Where would you most like to live?
I will happily live anywhere where there is an airport and internet available. After 20 wonderful years living in Germany, I fell in love with Vienna all over again. For the last 18 months I’ve been back living here with my wife. I spend half the year travelling and we might not stay here forever, but for now it’s fantastic.
Best advice you ever got?
Bob Mondavi would always say when we procrastinated too much: “Just f*cking do it.”
Your cellar’s underwater, which one bottle would you dive in and save?
My new oak aged white Cabernet 2017 from Chateau Changyu Moser XV as it’s the only wine of its kind in the world, so it’s unique and delicious. If I had to save a red, it would be any bottle of Opus One.
What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?
The best thing is that every year there is new chance to surprise and excite the customer, which is another thing I learnt from Bob Mondavi, as he tried to get better every year without necessarily increasing the price of his wines. The worst thing is that we are all a bit ego centric and too inward-looking instead of benchmarking ourselves against other wines – the customer’s perception of wine is so different to ours in the trade.
What wines are on your wine bucket list?
The wines of Georgia and Armenia – I’m really keen to visit both places and explore the cradle of winemaking.
Which three guests would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d love to invite Xi Xin Ping, the general secretary of the communist party of China and president of the people’s republic of China. He’s a very interesting and strong leader and the Chinese for the most part love him for that. I’d also invite Christine Lagarde, chairman of the International Monetary Fund, who is tough as nails and a great woman. And finally, Mr Bean, to keep the other two in check and add some fun to proceedings.