Martin Mittelbach is a Wachau insider with an outsider’s perspective. He is the fifth generation of Mittelbachs to run the historical Tegernseerhof, an estate that goes further back than 1000 years. Despite the estate’s historical merit you couldn’t find a much more progressive winemaker with his own set of standards and way of thinking in this region. Martin took over the estate at a very young age and immediately changed the way things were done. As you could imagine, there was some friction with his father who preferred to make wines more on the sweeter side. Today, you would be hard pressed to find a more dry and straight style in the Wachau. The grapes are harvested and sorted rigorously to take out any botrytis grapes and then vinified and raised in stainless steel. They are harvested with no botrytis to keep the wines focused and tense. His wines are like his personality: intense, focused and highly intellectual. These laser beams are as far away from the often baroque style that can be found in this region. In every level his wines excel and can stand tall next to any of the greatest producers in Austria.
Lay Of The Land
The Wachau is arguably the most prestigious winegrowing region in Austria. The region starts just west of Vienna in a town called Unterloiben and runs through a river gorge thirty-three kilometers east to Spitz. Here, Riesling and Gruner Veltliner thrive on the steeply terraced hills along the Danube River bank. In some areas, the vineyards can be as steep as those found in Germany’s Mosel region. The soils found along the hilltops are rich in gneiss, granite and slate. Further downslope, closer to the river, is Gruner Veltliner territory where the soils become more alluvial with sand and loess. Though, perhaps the coolest winegrowing region in Austria, the Wachau is located in an area that is affected by various climatic influences. Warm Pannonian air streams that flow from the east are countered with the cool Atlantic winds that come from the west, creating an ideal continental climate that is mitigated by it’s proximity to the Danube River.