Jul 19, 2021
In this show I speak with Roman Horvath, a Master of Wine, is
the Winery Director of Domaine Wachau, which is among
the leading wine producers in Austria. The Domaine is actually a cooperative,
meaning it is run by and owned by individual growers, with Roman
bringing them all together under his leadership. But whereas most
co-ops in Europe produce seas of mediocre to plain BAD wines,
Domaine Wachau has been cited as one of the best
co-ops in the world and is known for making wines of origin and
Photo: Domaine Wachau
The Domaine has a full range of Grüner Veltliner and
Riesling that reflect their unique terroir – from small vineyard
plots on steep terraces along the Danube to regional wines. Roman
coordinates the vintner families, who work to capture the terroir
of the historic wine region of Wachau. These wines are splendid and
show how the co-op system can work well when under the right
Here are the show notes:
- Roman tells us about his path through the MW and to becoming
the managing director of Domaine Wachau. He gives us some great insight into
the MW program (spoiler – it’s probably not what you think!)
Roman Horvath, MW: Domaine Wachau
- We discuss the structure of Domaine Wachau and what makes it such a successful
cooperative (along with Produttori del Barbaresco in Piedmont and
La Chablisienne in Chablis). We talk about the success of this
co-op versus the thousands of others in Europe and the formula for
- We discuss Wachau, the small (3321 acres/1,344 hectares),
narrow valley carved out by the Danube through marble and mineral
rich, amphibolite (metamorphic rock), and quartz-based gneiss (said
"nice) rock. We talk about the effect of the Danube, climate
patterns, and the individual 155 Rieden (single vineyards like the
famed Kellerberg, Achleiten and Singerriedel), as well as the vital
importance of the stone terraces (terrasen) to mountainside
viticulture in Wachau.
Photo: Domaine Wachau
- Roman tells us about the style we can expect from
the Grüner Veltliner and the Riesling that grow in Wachau, and
factors that make a difference in style – from terroir to
aging. We talk about why screw cap is fantastic for young wine but
why cork is a better bet for aging wines.
- We discuss the two classification systems that Wachau is part
of – the national DAC system, which includes a
Burgundy-like place-based classification system (Gebeitsweine for
Regional Wine, Ortswein for Village wine, Riedenwein for single
vineyard wines) and Wachau’s own classification by ripeness under
the Vinea Wachau, which includes wines labeled
Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smargd (in order of lightest to
Map: Wine for Normal People
- We wrap with a conversation about climate change and the future
for Wachau. Roman mentions some excellent other Austrian regions:
Burgenland for reds, and Kremstal, Kamptal, Wagram, Traisental for
This conversation gave me a new appreciation for Wachau and for
successful co-ops. Domaine Wachau is great and I know I will appreciate
Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the majestic area more than I
ever have before!
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