Weingut Malat

 

Gruner Veltliners from Malata in the Kremstal, Austria

The Malat Winery in the Kremstal. Photo Source: Winery

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at Malat? who makes the wines?

Michael Malat is the ninth generation to be growing grapes and making wine on this estate in the Kremstal region of Austria.  The Malat family has a unique place in the annals of Austrian wine tradition as Michael’s father Gerald pioneered Austria’s version of Recoltant-Manipulant Sekt, taking a case all the way to the Austrian Supreme Court to allow small producers to grow and produce their own sparkling wine.  Michael took over in 2008 and brings a combination of energy, creativity and respect for long standing traditions to the vines and to the cellar. 
Malat Family in the vineyard in Kremstal, Austria

Michael, Gerald and Wilma Malat.

what wines do they make at Weingut Malat?

The Malats produce remarkable Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from diverse soil types along the sloped banks of the Danube.  This is the bulk of the family’s production and each is planted in specific plots where the soil yields the best result for that variety.  In general, the Grüner Veltliner grows on the slightly richer soils and the Riesling grows on the primary rock higher on the hills. In addition, they grow Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay used in their Sekts and a fair amount of red wines.  For the moment we’ve focused on the Grüner Veltliners here at Candid.
Gruner Veltliner from Malat at Candid Wines

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when did Weingut Malat start? when might you open a bottle?

The winery was founded in 1722 and Michael Malat represents that ninth generation of grower / winemakers in the family.

The single vineyard designates from Malat are wines that can be decanted and consumed young or cellared for an extended period.  The Gottschelle Erste Lage Grüner Veltliner possesses such depth, power and finesse that it might live for two decades or more, and yet is approachable enough to be featured on the current pairing menu at Elizabeth here in Chicago.

Gruner Veltliner vines and the hotel at Malat

Copyright: MALAT Weingut und Hotel

For more immediate “pop and pour” pleasure, Michael has created the playful ‘Crazy Creatures’ label from a mix of younger sites planted closest to the river Danube.

In addition to managing the family’s vineyards, Michael has built a modern, boutique hotel within the structure of a five hundred year old farmhouse on the property. New meets old again and again at Malat.


where is Weingut Malat?

Roughly one hour’s drive west of Vienna, Malat is situated on the banks of the Danube in the heart of the  Kremstal in the town of Palt.  For a view of the region from above, take a look at this page where Michael showed us the winery, vineyards and the whole of the region from a unique vantage point.  The vines are situated on gentle slopes where Loess dominates but gives way to primary rock in places.   Gruner is planted on two soil types at Malat: very old decomposed “primary” rocks that are poor in nutrients and require a deep root structure and more windblown deposits of loess that offer the plants more access to nutrition close to the surface. The Gottschelle is grown on the primary rock and shows higher acidity, more minerality, and longer aging potential. The Crazy Creatures comes primarily from the Loess dominated sites and is a touch richer and more easily consumed young.

Map of the Kremstal: Malat Wines

why is Weingut Malat a Candid Wine? why might you try a bottle?

We were introduced to Weingut  Malat by Circo Vino, an importer whose ethos matches our own in terms of wine quality, farming practices and integrity from vine to bottle.  Tasting through Michael’s wines, it is instantly clear that site, vine age, and varietal expression are paramount to his philosophy.  Taste his Crazy Creatures alongside his Gottschelle Erste Lage and you will find increasing intensity and agreeability quite similar to what we love in Romain Guiberteau’s Chenin Blancs or Klaus Peter Keller’s Riesilngs.  The “entry” level wines are beautiful, affordable examples of the grape while the single vineyard selections are both hedonistic and fascinating.

how is the wine made at Weingut Malat?

The distinction between carious cuvées starts in the vineyards just as they might in Burgundy, with clear separations between the “Kremstal” bottlings that include grapes from multiple sites in the area and the Erste Lage that are single vineyard “premier cru” sites.   At harvest, Michael stresses maturity without or with very little botrytis, which he feels can rob Gruner of it’s elegance and lead to wines he describes as “too powerful, too rustic and baroque in flavor”.

Michael pays close attention to the natural acidity of each harvest as Gruner can vary from year to year perhaps as much or more than almost any other variety.  Warmer years might lead to a bit more whole bunches in the press to increase the acidity while cooler years might see a bit more lees contact to calm what can be bright and edgy acidity. 

Weingut Malat Harvest.

Checking Klosterneuburger Mostwaage (Grape Sugar) at Malat. Photo Source: Winery