Weingut Rudi Pichler | Wachau
The Pichler family have been based in the village of Wösendorf since 1731, and bought their original cellar in 1884, finally planting their first vines twenty years after that. Today, the meticulous Rudolf Pichler IV, known as Rudi, cultivates fifteen hectares of vineyard including some of the acknowledged ‘grands crus’ of the Wachau.
The vineyards are spread between Wösendorf, Joching, Weißenkirchen, and Mautern. Wösendorf and Joching lie in the heart of the Wachau Valley where south-facing terraces look down at the Danube River. Here, rieden (single vineyard sites) such as Kirchweg, Hochrain, and Kollmütz are marked by occasional deposits of loess over base rock. Rudi produces crystal-clear expressions of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Weißburgunder from these sites. Directly east of Joching is Weißenkirchen, home to the famous rieden of Steinriegl and Achleithen, two distinctive Riesling sites with calcareous and weathered gneiss, respectively.
“I’m a wine caretaker not a winemaker,” is Rudi’s mantra, placing the intensity of work in the vineyards at the foundation of his philosophy. Rudi wants vineyard and varietal expression to be as clear as possible so yields are kept low between 30 and 35 hectoliters per hectare with harvest and botrytis carefully removed by hand. Grapes are crushed by foot and receive between three and 36 hours of maceration on the skins depending on the vintage and style. “The skin has information about the specific place where it is from,” says Rudi. Vinification is entirely in stainless-steel tanks and malolactic fermentation is avoided. The resulting wines are pure, dense, and taut with energy.