The inhabitants of the Vinschgau Valley are known as lateral thinkers and free spirits. How would you describe winegrowers in the Vinschgau Valley?
The people of Vinschgau Valley are certainly very headstrong – who like doing things their own way. The very fact that the Riesling pioneers in Italy all come from Vinschgau speaks volumes. What’s also special about the Vinschgau Valley vines is their high percentage of new fungus-resistant PiWi varietals. This is may be due to the fact that viticulture is on the rise here, and these new varietals are capable of defending themselves against the fungi. Also, PiWi varietals require few or no chemical inputs. However, vinification of PiWi grapes is quite complicated, due to their broad spectrum of flavours and absence of distinguishing features. For example, if you take 3 bottles of Solaris from different wineries, each would taste completely different from the other. I think this is where things are going to get more interesting in future.
While on the subject of PiWi wines, we’ve seen new trends such as biodynamic, vin naturel, vegan, etc. What’s your take?
Are winemakers always trying to keep up with new trends, or do they get involved through genuine conviction? It’s a bit of both. Some winemakers follow trends while others take no notice. When it comes to biodynamic or organic wines it’s a bit different, but in the end the wine has to be up to par. If the label on the back of the bottle says “organic”, and if the wine is undrinkable it behoves neither the consumer nor the winemaker. Personally, I think there’s a lot of potential in biodynamic wines. Yet it’s hardly discussed, because for most winemakers the focus remains on making good wines. There are also others who use biodynamics as a handle to promote their wines. But in general, what you see is a return to local and traditional winemaking.
When I'm selecting wines for my private use, which three South Tyrolean labels should not be overlooked?
I’d say these young, up-and-coming contenders: Abraham Winery, Bergmannhof Winery and Pitzner Winery.
And what’s your favourite wine estate in the Vinschgau Valley?
For me it’s Falkenstein Winery. Franz is a super winemaker and Magdalena
a worthy successor with lots of fresh ideas. Their wines are really excellent. Not just their flagship wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon and Pinot Blanc, but also their Pinot Noir. A lot has happened there recently. Despite all their interesting developments, this winery has remained rock solid.