Website: Schmelz Winery
Country Location: Austria
Jancis Robinson calls Schmelz a "top-drawer Wachau producer" Falstaff Magazine's Winemaker of the Year for 2005
Johann Schmelz is the new rising star of the Wachau. This ambitious yet modest winemaker, a founding member of the Vinea Wachau Association, worked for the Jamek winery for many years before taking over the family operation. From the best vineyards Höhereck (High Corner) and Pichl Point, Schmelz creates polished, intense fruity white wines with harmonious acid structure. The 2003 Grüner Veltliner Smargd from Höhereck is unbeatable in price/performance with 94 Falstaff points. Austria's leading wine magazine, Falstaff, awarded him the title of Winemaker of the Year in 2005.
The Wachau Appellation. The Wachau is Austria's most famous wine growing region. With its abruptly rising hills, nestling baroque villages and ancient monuments the fascinating Wachau stretch of landscape along the Danube has recently been declared a World Heritage site. The hard work of many centuries has transformed the precipitous hillsides along the Danube into terraced vineyards and with their lovingly restored houses at the foot of these slopes the villages of Spitz, Weißenkirchen, Joching, or Loiben breathe an atmosphere of centuries of life with wine. This 35 km gorge along the Danube River is one of the most romantic vineyard landscapes in the world
The primary rock and slate soils together with the fjord-like climate give the wines a very special character, often with pleasant mineral notes and good acidic structure. The Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grown here create some of the most beautiful white wines in the world and have given the wines of this area their astonishing reputation.
Winery. The Schmelz family has been making wine in the Wachau area for 5 generations in the town of Joching, home to many of the very best Wachau producers. Johann and Monika Schmelz and their sons Thomas and Florian's own 10.5 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards stretch for 6 km along the shores of the Danube between the villages of Woesendorf and Unter-Loiben. Yearly they produce 60,000 bottles. The majority of the wine is estate grown. A small amount of the grapes are bought from neighboring vintners.
"Our plans for the future are very simple: We try to make the best possible quality each year. Foremost to us are repeat and satisfied customers."
Vineyards. The broad variation of microclimates, elevations and diverse geological soils in the Schmelz vineyards provide the base for nuances in the unique characters of the wines. From the sandy primitive rocks (the Riesling loves this soil) to the loess and gravel soil, all play a big part in the terroir notes and quality of the wines. The grape varietals grown at the Schmelz estate are 60% Grüner Veltliner, 30% Riesling. The rest is Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zweigelt and Yellow Muscat. The Schmelz vineyard sites are Stein Am Rain, Steinriegl, Buschenberg, Dürnsteinerfreiheit and the best vineyard, Pichl Point, where Grüner Veltliner of enormous RASSE and spiciness can be grown.
Winemaking. Schmelz's focus on quality begins every year with a rigorous pruning of the vines and a careful cutting of the leaves in the vineyard. They avoid all synthetic materials. At harvest time they select only perfectly matured grapes for the wines. The grapes are harvested carefully by hand, de-stemmed and pressed with the utmost modern, pneumatic press to apply a very gentle pressure on the grapes. The grape-juice will then become de-slimed. The juice is fermented with pure cultured yeast in stainless steel tanks. A small amount of the Smaragd wines mature in wooden barrels.
Founding member of "Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus" which oversees all aspects of viticulture in this area. Wachau wines are classified in three bands: Steinfeder (light and racy), Federspiel (elegant and with body), and Smaragd (highly ripe and powerful).
The Schmelz Estate with its 3 Star Rating from Falstaff is among the top rated Austrian wineries.
"Winemaker of the Year" 2005 Falstaff