FRANZ HIRTZBERGERWACHAU, AUSTRIA

 

The winery or “Weingut” is located in the town of Spitz on the Danube in Lower Austria’s wine growing region Wachau.

Franz the elder laid the foundations by identifying the best single- vineyard terraces, and by founding the Vinea Wachau (local wine growing association) together with some other big names of the region. Franz the second, who presides over the family’s 20 hectares of terraces since 1983, introduced a rigorous pursuit of high quality wines, which propelled the Hirtzberger vineyard into the very heart of the Wachau’s wine culture. Since 1988 (and for 24 years in the role of president of the Vinea), he has also been trying to communicate his beliefs to other winemakers in the region. Right at the centre of his philosophy resides the natural approach to wine cultivation and the careful understanding of the geological and climatic specificities of his terraces.

The strict quality focus in the vineyard includes short pruning, intensive canopy management and strict yield control and rigorous selection at harvest. Hand-picked, in several passes, to ensure that only grapes with the highest physiological maturity be harvested and processed, the musts are then fermented without any chaptalisation and other improvements in the steel tank until fermentation stops naturally. They are then left to age in traditional large oak barrels. Every year approximately 150,000 bottles of wine are produced. All of the wines that I o er can be enjoyed immediately, but in the case of the “smaragd” wines, they can be aged for many years.

I’m fortunate to be able to have such a globally recognised Austrian producer in my small portfolio. Along with the wines of Emmerich Knoll, they represent the older generation, steeped in history, knowledge and ownership of some wonderful vineyard sites. Both producers are a wonderful counterpoint and juxtaposition to those of the new generation, from Gut Oggau. Rarely do these producers sit side by side in any portfolio, but my belief, is that they all contribute to the dynamic, quality, terroir focussed wines that are thrilling wine drinkers the world over.