New Wachau Part I: To stir and refresh in the Graben



New Wachau Part I: To stir and refresh in the Graben
Schaut vertrauensvoll in die Zukunft: Johann Donabaum (Foto: Christoph Liebentritt)
Looks confident into the future: Johann Donabaum (Photo: Christoph Liebentritt)

GERMANY (Berlin) - Captains mate Clemens Mally in search of new Wachau. This time, the mate ends up in a cool burrow and meets a winemaker that may even surprise him with a peppery Veltliner.

Here in the Spitzer Graben the Wachau is different. Far from the core business. No Danube, which separates the two shores of the region. Only a small stream that flows downhill from the forest district. The Spitzergraben is a place that manages that you feel blue in the winter twilight. Between the old farms, you find yourself transported back in time. The rare occasion of driving cars indicate the present.


Johann Donabaum is living and working here. One of many winemakers in the burrow. One third of the vineyards in Spitz is processed here. Because the valley runs in a west-east direction, the vineyards enjoy a complete south or southwest exposure, including a relative calm, and probably the coolest terroir of the region. The humidity stays here very long. But the narrowness of the burrow helps to heat up the valley. A micro-climate. Other circumstances.

Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and the ancient variety of the Spitzergraben, Neuburger, all need extra long time to mature. This provides for a distinctive flavor. Especially in very hot vintages winemakers have a clear advantage in Spitzer Graben. Acid will probably never lack here.

Donabaum’s wines show what the Graben could do. And they are witnesses of the vintages. This is what is missing in other wines of the region. If a Donabaum wine gives the possibility to taste some older vintages of its Riesling wines, then you will be rewarded with an authentic time travel. So you learn to understand what makes wine, what can carry wine, why wine is a cultural asset. And a memory.

The 2009 vintages of Donabaum were powerful wines. But so complex that they even have convinced me, a skeptic of excessive exuberance. Donabaum allows itself the luxury to hold back many of these wines in the cellar and to bring them on the market at a later time to market. If they are mature enough to convince consumers.

Johann Donabaum is allergic to sulfur. Not a felt one, not a prescribed one, but a real one. His pain is our joy, because he is extremely cautios with sulfur. Alternatively, Donabaum leaves his wines up to 12 hours in the must. Because this way he can save a lot of sulfur. (clemens.mally - cptn.cork)

...and if you want to know what mate Mally has to tell you about vineyards and wines, read Part II which includes tasting notes:

sys_pfeilNew Wachau Part II: To stir and refresh in the Graben


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