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Martin Muthenthaler

Wachau  //  Austria

Organic

“Is it too soon to call Muthenthaler a legend? Probably. But I know where my money is."

BRIAN MCCLINTIC MS
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Muthenthaler Vineyard
Muthenthaler Bottles

In the end, glory is a less inspiring attachment than purpose. On our vineyard walk, I asked Martin, ‘Had you not lost your job, would you still be driving that truck?’ He found that question silly: ‘100%.’ Martin Muthenthaler never would have chosen this path and yet he found his way home. He truly loves what he does.”

BRIAN MCCLINTIC MS

A 'one-man' operation in the truest sense of the phrase, Martin was a truck driver for Domäne Wachau for 20 years before he started making wine of his own in the Spitzer Graben valley in Austria's famous Wachau region.

 

Since 2006 he has been cultivating 3 hectares of vines - all organic since the 2010 vintage - planted on poor rocky soils at high altitudes. All fruit is hand harvested by Martin, and fermented spontaneously with ambient yeast.

Back in the 1980s, Martin Muthenthaler was working for the local cooperative Domäne Wachau, as his vineyards high up in the Spitzer Graben (the coolest part of the Wachau) wouldn’t always produce prime fruit due to the cool winds coming from the continental plate.

 

Physiological ripeness in his grapes was the exception rather than the rule. Despite possessing the same terroir, a few families would rarely bottle their own wine. So in the early 2000s, when Martin eventually moved on from his day job, he decided that it was time for a change.

Fast forward to 2020, Martin is now one of only a handful of growers in the Wachau practicing organic viticulture, as well as producing wines without the local classification system which values the quality of wine based on alcohol levels - a value system that may have worked back in the 1980s when temperatures were more moderate and only healthy, non-botrytized grapes were harvested.

 

However, in today’s context balance is more important than the level of ripeness. Strangely, both working organically and preferring to stay out of the common system has made Martin a persona non grata in the Wachau, selling his few thousand bottles exclusively outside of the Wachau region. His single-vineyard wines from 'Bruck' and 'Schön’, as well as his monopole Cru 'Viesslinger Stern' on top of the mountain, are among some of the most celebrated wines coming out of Austria today.
 

Featured Wines

'Ried Schon' Gruner Veltliner

2018

"... The 2018 Schön is dancing a waltz on the palate, but it also reveals endless salinity, transparency and mineral freshness and is really sublime on the finish.
This is a great Wachau wine that could even improve the Vinea Smaragd league...."

96 points, Wine Advocate

'Veisslinger Stern' Riesling

2019

"... Crystalline, vital and finessed on the first palate, this is an intense, elegant and firm dry Riesling. It is initially almost austere on the concentrated and very intense finish... use a carafe or a big glass and learn what air can give to the wine: even more intensity, charm and rich, aromatic, even juicy fruit and an amazingly tensioned finish."

95+ points, Wine Advocate

'Veisslinger Stern' Riesling

2017

"... this is a very elegant and perfectly mineral Riesling that is an amazing amalgam of crushed rocks and ripe and lush stone fruits. Everything is interwoven here, and the finish is as long and intense as it is tensioned and refreshing. Martin Muthenthaler's 2017 Stern is a classic in the making and one of the very finest Rieslings I have tasted in Austria this year."

95 points, Wine Advocate

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