I'm snatching seconds on the road to write, so as I make all sorts of mistake, I also invite comment, correction and illumination, especially from all of you Austrian wine geeks.
The riesling was just this minute in flower
when I met with Peter Malberg, who made his first solo domain effort in 2008. He is a lean man with Intrepid airplane blue/gray colored eyes that almost matched his hair, and originally from Saltzberg, he farms the far western area of Wachau, high up where no one sane makes good wine, in coop country, crappy farming country, dusted with mica-schist and faerie dust.
Funny thing, lots of folk out there say with respect how he cares for his 4 hectares (spread over 20 different parcels) with utter care and then? Overheard and translated from the German he makes great wine, but he'll soon find out he can't make a living that way. I suppose if he wanted to get rich, this previous advertising guy, would have avoided farming. Especially the kind of vineyards he's after, old terraced ones. I love old terraces, you can taste them in the wine, he said.
All work here is done by hand. He's given up biodynamics, mostly because of a Steiner distrust, he does use several of the preps and farms, for lack of a better term, organically. He makes wine, he says, for precision, which is a term I have no idea what to do with. Perhaps something gets lost in the translation because the wines are very, very fine indeed.
We prepared for battle, he opened bottles (with a twist) and poured water into green short glasses. "We have no wine culture in this country. My parents used to drink out of glasses like these!" he said, with certain disdain. Then he glugged, glugged and gave a hissy smile, in imitation of the way his folks used to drink wine. "There was either the very high end or the low end. There was no wine culture."
I said it is this way throughout the world, no? Even in France.
When we tasted, I kept on chiding him about that comment. No, I can't taste the terraces, but I certainly can taste the effort in the farming. In the processing it's minimal, as a general rule, no additions except some sulfur, which generally happens at racking. Much lower than usual for Austrian standards. He also is not afraid of skin contact or stem contact, and presses slowly, finding that pressing with stems makes for a more gentle pressing. I believe this pressing makes a huge difference in his wine, and at least in one cuvée is quite tannic, which I loved. And I am happy when I hear a winemaker say they aren't afraid of tannin.
He doesn't want oxidation in his wine so he's got this theory: keep the must (pre-fermentation) exposed to air so it oxidizes, so there's nothing to oxidize at a later date. (note to self: must talk to Tom Lubbe of Matassa about this.)
Most of the wines had been open for ten days or so, few seemed worse for the wear.
2010: Kreutles Gruner: this is the only wine he makes on the flat. Lots of life and chamomile.
'10 Hochrain (Loess soil) 1/2 of this went through malo, yellow plum, juicy, nutmeg.
'10 Weitenberg Gruner: his oldest vines and an old vine of gruner, planted on gneiss. Small leafs, closer to riesling. Lots of apple strudel, and a bit of high carbon steel. Vin de gard. Excellent structure.
'10 Bruck: tart, very new, more yellow plum and a bit disjointed with underlying funk and mint.
'10; Buechenberg: this is near the more famous RiedKlaus vineyard and costs a hefty 58 euro, but why not? Woah! Tannin and tangy, fresh! Apple, acid, balance, long, long notes.
Off again. Soonish.
Peter in his vineyards with plenty of clover.