"The noblest form of agriculture is one that maintains its own fertility and therefore also becomes self-sufficient. This is a high ideal and a life task which must be considered on every level."
From their work on the farm and in the cellar all the way through to the choice of label on each bottle, the Michlits family fully embodies the biodynamic ideal of integrative agriculture that nourishes the land as it nurtures production. Their almost 2,000-hectare estate is set up exactly for this purpose, using creative and carefully thought-out biodynamic practices first laid out by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s: cattle graze on organic grass and grain to create natural fertilizer for the soil, bug houses and native plants encourage beneficial insect populations, vegetables and fruits are cultivated to ensure mineral diversity in the soils; whole swathes of land lay completely fallow in order to rest and regenerate.
I have not had the chance to visit with Angela, Werner, and their hardworking extended family yet - I came upon their wines for the first time at the RAW Wine Fair back in November - but in a sea of natural wines, theirs stood out sip after sip with the pure clarion call of the land. There was a straightforward soulfulness to the wines, nothing ostentatious, that felt as gentle and harmonious as the winemaking itself.
In the cellar, trust in nature is the guiding principle. Fermentations are with indigenous yeast (malolactic allowed to occur spontaneously), there is no fining or filtering of any kind, and small amounts of sulfur are used only when necessary. Two floors on split levels allow for gravity to move the wine and avoid the agitation of pumping while fermentation and elevage are in neutral stainless steel, large used wood, or concrete egg.
"Mein" in German means "my," and "klang" translates as "sound" - I could not think of a more accurate name for this inspiring estate, which stewards the land for future generations as it crafts delicious, balanced and compelling wines for this one. Karina Mackow
[Quotation from Meinklang website; photos courtesy of William Krapohl from Artisanal Cellars]
While the Meinklang winery and most of its vineyards sit on the Austrian side of the border, there is a small section of vines they work high on terraces surrounded by lava pillars from an extinct volcano in Somló, Hungary. Surrounded by the wild herbs and grasses of the countryside, they cultivate tiny amounts of the native Hungarian grape Hárslevelü. Dubbed ‘wedding night wine’ and drunk by emperors of the great Hapsburg dynasty for its purported effects on virility and the likelihood of male offspring, this is also, historical footnote aside, absolutely delicious to drink. Hárslevelü gives a succulent, spicy, and dense white wine with plenty of freshness and ripe stone fruit. A firm core of acidity and streaks of bright citrus balance the heady flavors and concentrated minerality. Another singular offering from the talented hands of the Michlits family that richly rewards wine lovers and geeks alike. Karina Mackow
The Zweigelt from Angela & Werner’s “Graupert” series – wines made from vines that are left to grow totally wild without pruning or trellising – is an absolutely unique expression of the grape. These vines produce fewer bunches of thicker-skinned, smaller, and more concentrated grapes, which combined with an indigenous yeast fermentation and no fining, filtering, or added sulfites give a totally pure expression of terroir. The palate is sapid with dark fruit and umami notes: plump cherries, sweet black-skinned plums, tamari, stewed tomatoes, freshly-cracked black pepper, and damp, loamy soil. On the fuller side of medium-bodied, this vibrant and complex natural wine would pair beautifully with braised lamb or beef stew, tuna, or an aged Gouda or cheddar. Karina Mackow
This is 100% Sankt-Laurent, and after fermentation and maturation in 900L concrete eggs for a full year, it is also the darkest and most concentrated of the three Meinklang wines we carry. To point out that a wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs is no empty showmanship of hipster wine-speak: it is a method that allows tiny, controlled amounts of oxygen to slowly seep in through minute pores and develop a wine without introducing any external flavors. What this interaction does do is give a subtle, entrancing quality of texture and allows for a clear expression of minerality. Deeply purple in color, the palate is supple with blackberry and black cherry fruits grounded by a cool backbone of wet stone and chalk. The nose is floral, fruity, and very pure. This would be a great red pairing for Mediterranean feasts, chicken liver pâté, sweetbreads, and rillettes of any kind. Karina Mackow