Once a seabed, this verdant countryside, somewhat reminiscent of the Jura, Lower Styria, is not the place for mono-culture. All around Ewald Tscheppe's vineyards are cherry trees, fruits, vegetables, forest and even his brother's mountain bike. Ewald is long and lean, almost kid-like and gung ho on biodynamics. He started to make wine with bro, Andreas, but they decided even thought they worked the same grapes the wines they made were entirely different, so Andreas moved over the hill, the brothers still share winemaking equipment and affection. They are also both members of the little group of five vignerons who call themselves, Schmecke das Leben.
Ewald's got his 8h of chalky marl. He says because of the breakdown of the old shells, there is always some petrol aroma and taste in his wine. He says petrol, I say wild carrot, but yes, when we later tasted, I saw what he meant.
He took over in 2004 and here is planted to chardonnay (morillon here) and sauvignon and muskateller, never used synthetic fertilizers and only briefly flirted with herbicides. And what's more I can't believe how boring I'm making this visit, because it was not. The high points included going to his vines with a shovel, passing a shit load of cat nip growing wild, instant valium for redheads. We sat down in between the vines as if it was smoking zero summer and a picnic was on the way , instead we dug up the earth,
applauded his earthworms and wild carrots, wild sage and general health, and I swear I have never been in vineyards that had more birds.
Werlitsch is the label.
The wines? Quite good. More than good, interesting. They would fly in the states. And then there's that anfora wine. Everyone here seems to be influenced by Gravner. I've not seen one anfora NOT buried. And here is the crypt.
I'm not going to give a run down on the wines because why bother. What is important is Ewald's wines, great, and part of the group's philosophy that the grape is utterly unimportant, what is important is the terroir. Also important are his thoughts such as, "Sulfur gives the wine a shape. It's like the bones in the body."