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An exciting young winemaker redefining Austrian reds“When I met Christoph Wachter, the winemaker at Wachter-Wiesler, at his family´s restaurant in Deutsch Schützen, I took him for a busboy or possibly the village pot dealer. That he turned out to be funny and articulate while speaking to journalists double his age – Christoph is twenty one – was impressive, though not nearly as impressive as the fact that he seemed to have tasted more broadly and thought about wine more critically than many writers.” –Alex Halberstadt, The Faster Times, July 2010 Christoph Wachter began working at his family winery in 2008 when he was just 20 years old, six years later he is in charge of vinification and was just named the 2014 “Newcomer of the Year” by der Feinschmecker, the most important wine magazine in the German language.
His vineyards are located in Südburgenland, near the towns of Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen. The soils are comprised of iron rich clay, loam, and slate. Eisenberg is regarded as one of the finest sites for producing Blaufränkisch in Austria, producing wines of greater finesse and focus. Deutsch Schützen’s soils, while similar, are denser with a deeper layer of clay, resulting in darker spicier wines with softer tannins.
He allows the weeds to grow in his vineyards as they attract beneficial insects and eventually return to the soil as nutrients themselves. Rather than add fertilizer he leaves the vines to extract what they need from the soil itself, thus instilling the wines with minerality and allowing them to express their unique terroir. In the cellar they only employ native yeasts, use upwards of 20-30% whole cluster, and age in large barrels that allow the wines to mature gracefully without obscuring them with oak flavors.
The resulting wines are incredibly elegant and expressive, superlative expressions of Blaufränkisch that should age well, though they are drinking well right now. This is an exciting estate and Christoph Wachter is definitely a winemaker to watch.