About F.X. Pichler
"Everything here seems stylish, cultured and intelligently managed," wrote Sophie Otton of her recent visit to FX Pichler - which is, she notes, "widely regarded as Austria's finest estate". "Most of the wines here are Smaragd, which indicates the quality of their vineyard sites," Sophie observes. "Looking down the hillside to the Danube, it's obvious, the aspect is perfect. The wines are striking, like cut crystal, with strong clear lines; succulent, satiny and honeyed." The new winery, completed in 2010, is a stunning piece of design, with an imposing bank of stainless steel vats, side by side with the old oak foudres that are used for aging but not fermentation. The Pichlers use long maceration times – 20 hours for the Smaragds - and bottle direct from cask after eight months or so aging on lees. These exceptional wines have every inch of the finesse of Prager, but communicated through a slightly more open, loose- knit framework.
In 1971, Lucas Pichler’s father Franz-Xaver started running the estate, and would go on 41 years later to win a lifetime achievement award for his efforts from German magazine Der Feinschmecker. 1999 was the year that Lucas took over winemaking duties from his father, who continues to tend the vines. FX Pichler’s vineyards comprise some 18 hectares, of which around 47% are planted to Riesling (the rest is almost entirely Grüner Veltliner). A fraction less than half the area under vine sprawls across steeply rising terraces. This winemaking process presupposes multi-pass manual picking of premium-quality, highly ripe grapes followed by careful processing and traditional maturation in large oak casks. Lucas aims for naturalness and distinctiveness by forgoing chaptalisation and fining.