Interviews 17 September 2020

Life Lessons with Lenz Moser

From speeding down the Autobahn to pairing Mouton-Rothschild with Big Macs: winemaker Lenz Moser shares his Life Lessons
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Lenz (Laurenz) M Moser’s family has been in the wine business since 1610, with the family’s lineage in their home village of Rohrendorf (Lower Austria) dating back to 1124. Lenz’s grandfather, Professor Dr. Lorenz Moser III, who introduced the young Lenz to wine, is credited with inventing the Austrian trellising system known as the “Lenz Moser Hocherziehung”.

After completing a degree in oenology, Moser worked at the family winery for 10 years before joining Napa’s Robert Mondavi Winery and setting up its European branch office. In 2005 he went back to his Austrian roots by founding Laurenz V with two partners, aiming to continue the work of his grandfather in promoting Grüner Veltliner worldwide.

He was first introduced to the Changyu estate in Ningxia, China, in 2005 and in 2015 started a joint venture, Château Changyu Moser XV. Moser is chief winemaker, spending around four months of the year at the 60-hectare estate, which produces six Cabernet Sauvignons, including two white Cabernets. The latest release from Chateau Changyu Moser XV is the £150 Cabernet Sauvignon “Purple Air Comes From The East” 2016  – the name signifies ‘bringing fortune and luck from the East.’ In traditional Chinese symbolism, purple represents divinity and immortality; in modern times, it stands for love and romance. “It’s also my favourite colour,” Moser says.

Moser is chief winemaker at Château Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia, China

What was your childhood ambition?
Wine, wine, wine. My grandfather used to take me to the vineyards every week from the age of six – I loved it.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 21?
What life is really about.

What exercise do you do?
Every morning a minimum half-hour of exercise, and I try to do 10,000 steps a day. Plus swimming in the summer.

What is the character trait you most wish you could change in yourself?
Patience is not my strength.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought (aside from property)?
Two cases of Château Mouton Rothschild 1988. I was young and working on my career, and with my modest salary at the time, this was a huge expense for me. I loved the inky style of this wine and I still do. I drank all 24 bottles in two years with almost any food you can think of, including Big Macs from the newly opened McDonald’s in my home town of Krems.

A balanced diet: Moser paired Château Mouton Rothschild 1988 with a McDonald's Big Mac

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
Anywhere where there is good wine available, because that implies that there are good people around too.

If you could do any other job what would it be?
No other profession would be possible, I’m afraid (I don’t even want to think about it).

What luxury item would you take with you to a desert island?
A mixed case of great wine (from all over, including my best wines from Château Changyu-Moser XV) and plenty of water.

What haven’t you yet achieved that you want to?
I’m still not 100% living up to my 10 daily guidelines (but I am getting better every day). These are: vision – devotion to it – self-confidence – optimism – joy – coolness – persistence – smiling – mindfulness – results.

If you were king or queen of the world, what’s the first law you would enact?
Sorry, that’s too complex for me!

Whom would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Xi Jinping, George and Amal Clooney, and my wife.

Former US President Barack Obama and George and Amal Clooney would be the guests of honour at Moser's dream dinner party

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Desserts. Specifically Sachertorte, palatschinken [Austrian pancakes] – but filled only with apricot jam from the Wachau – and “schaumrolle”, which are even more Austrian – a roll of fluffy pastry filled with sweet egg white foam – and absolutely to die for. Another guilty pleasure is driving fast. On the German Autobahn there is still no speed limit and I find myself sometimes going above 200km/h (125mph). That is, provided I have a nice rental car as I don’t own a car anymore, for ecological reasons. Mostly I travel by train or fly.

What’s your secret talent?
I’m sad to say I really have none – I’m a wine guy through and through.

When were you happiest?
Whenever I’m with friends over a nice home-cooked meal and good wine – or in a restaurant. My favourite is Sexy Fish in Mayfair, London.  It has great people:  Julien Sahut is among the best sommeliers I know, and of course the food is just awesome

Whom do you most admire?
People who devote their lives to serve others.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I am an optimist, so maybe I overuse the phrase “All will be good’. But I really mean it. My brain loves to be pre-conditioned, though maybe not in a Joe Dispenza way [the multi-million-selling US neurologist and author believes in the principle that it’s possible to heal the body by thought alone]. The other phrase I definitely overuse is “No worries”.

 

What’s your greatest regret?
My motto is “No regrets!”

What’s your current favourite box-set, TV programme or podcast?
I don’t have a TV set, but I enjoy watching documentaries on great personalities on YouTube. The last one I saw was on Roosevelt, the great wartime US president and architect of the New Deal.

What’s your most treasured possession?
A rare Rolex Oysterquartz which my mother gave me for Christmas 45 years ago.

What time do you go to bed?
At 22:30, after the German and Austrian news.

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