Kellermeister Heinz Frischengruber auf der Ried Trenning. Im Hintergrund erstreckt sich der Spitzer Graben und die Riede Brandstatt.

New Wines from the Spitzer Graben

The Spitzer Graben (Spitz valley) is among the most exciting terroir anywhere in the country. Its cool climate and stony soils offer optimal conditions for precise, focused, and elegant wines.

The Spitzer Graben is distinct from the rest of Wachau. Not least for its climate: Average temperatures here are cooler than in vineyards along the Danube, with more shade and more rain. Harvest comes later, the terraces are steeper, and it takes longer for the soils to dry after rain. As one moves deeper into the valley, the conditions grow ever-closer to the climatic limits of viticulture. In an age of perceptible global warming, these factors are already all playing a role, one that can be expected to expand in the coming years.

To date, three of our wines — Neuburger Spitzer Graben, Grüner Veltliner Steinwerk, and Riesling Federspiel Bruck — have served as our showcase for viticuture from this valley, which ascends to the northwest from the town of Spitz. For the 2022 vintage, three new single-site wines have joined the roster, each showing yet another fundamental aspect of Spitzer Graben: Riesling Federspiel Ried Trenning, Riesling Smaragd from Brandstatt, and Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Schön.

Trenning represents a powerful conclusion to the Wachau before it falls steeply toward the Waldviertel. Here in Wachau’s highest rieds, conditions are too harsh for Grüner Veltliner. The sparse gneiss soils, striking shifts in diurnal temperature, and fresh winds encourage healthy, late-ripening Rieslings. With each extra day on the vine, new layers of clear and precise aromas arise in the grapes, showcased by the crystal-clear acidity of the Federspiel.

A few meters lower, yet no less thrilling, is Ried Brandstatt, which lies across from Trenning. In its upper parcels, Riesling is also afforded both the first and last word. The sun often shines longer here; when combined with stony soils that release stored warmth well into the night, the grapes produce more sugar, which later allows them to be vinified at Smaragd quality. At the same time, a bracing acidity shapes the wine and gives it an elegant texture.

Grüner Veltliner also finds its perfect terroir in Spitzer Graben, especially in Ried Schön. It is less climatically extreme, with more protection against the wind than the other sites, not to mention everything Veltliner needs to truly thrive. The wines are deep and compact, dancing across the palate without a gram of fat, leaving behind traces of dark spice, rich aromas of yellow fruit, and a marked minerality.

If you’ve never tried a bottle from Spitzer Graben, the time is now. Whether it’s Federspiel or Smaragd: These wines join finesse, depth, and tension, all with enormous vitality and expressiveness.