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Winery #78: Machherndl (Wachau DAC, Austria)


Our second visit in Austria’s Wachau wine region was to Machherndl during our Austria-Hungary-Slovakia Expedition. When we arrived to the winery's side gate, Erich Machherndl, the estate’s winemaker greeted us. It’s not very common to have the opportunity to meet with the person that actually tends to the vineyards and crafts the wine, and so this was a special treat for us! Erich was so generous in sharing his time, knowledge, and of course, his wines with us. He is the seventh generation of his family to produce wine! To commence our wine experience, Erich led us to a covered patio where we would spend the next three hours overlooking the beautiful mountain landscape while sampling his wines.


Erich explained how his wines are not made in the cellar, but rather produced in the vineyards. He prescribes to minimalistic intervention during the winemaking process, allowing natural yeasts to spontaneously begin the fermentation process. Erich uses only the minimal amount of sulphur, and many wines are neither fined nor filtered. This winemaking process allows for the wine to express the unique qualities of the grape and the Wachau terroir.


Additionally, Erich articulated how he focuses on organic farming without using pesticides or herbicides, but rather leveraging insects, butterflies, grasses, herbs, shrubs and trees. He is passionate about promoting a balanced ecosystem through biodiversity. Erich even brought in 100,000 bees to his vineyards! Bees help pollinate the cover crops, which are the various types of plants that can grow between vine rows designed to enrich the soil, reduce incident of soil disease, and ward of pests that inhibit grape production. So next time you swat away a bee, know that they could be a valuable employee of a nearby winery!


Over the course of our seated wine tasting experience, Erich introduced us to 13 wines that only scratched the surface of his entire range of wines. Our host loves to experiment with various grape varietals, different plots of land, and other extremely minimal winemaking practices like additional skin contact of the grapes prior to fermentation. And thus, he has quite a few different types of wine! From the line-up, we really enjoyed the 2021 Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kollmütz. The white Grüner Veltliner grapes were hand-harvested in 2021, a year that Erich described as a “once in a lifetime vintage” for the Wachau wine region. The grapes originated from the vineyard Rieden Kollmütz, and thanks to Vinea Wachau, you can find beautiful images of the vineyard and its soil cross-section here.


From our last blog post, we described Vinea Wachau and its single-vineyard classification system in the Wachau DAC. Federspiel wines, just below Smaragd in the hierarchy, are classified as dry, concentrated wines with alcohol in the range of 11.5% to 12.5%. Through some research, we discovered that Federspiel is a leather lure attached to a long string that falconers swing around to attract a falcons back after flying around. The crazy things you learn with wine!


We found the 2021 Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kollmütz to have concentrated aromas and flavors of green apple, pear, peach, and the typical Grüner Veltliner white pepper. Erich mentioned that he looks to accentuate the pepper aroma typical to traditional Wachau wine production rather than the more modern, fruity expression of the grape. The wine showed refreshing acidity and long, pleasant persistence on the palate. We highly recommend!


Experience Rating: 3 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 2 Paws Up


Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Seated Patio Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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