Christian Tschida

Illmitz, Burgenland, Austria

Christian Tschida (pronounced like “cheetah”) farms 11 hectares of old vines in national park Neusiedlersee, Burgenland - a region traditionally known for red and sweet wine production in eastern Austria. The vines have been with his family since the 1800s. Christian spends as little time as possible in the cellar where it is cold and dark preferring to be in nature where he says it is green and light.

He place his focus on farming , his vineyards known for being completely overgrown with cover crops that help increase and preserve biodiversity while also forcing the vines deeper into the soil searching for nutrients. The vineyards are entirely dry farmed without chemicals, consisting of sandy gravel, schist and limestone, and enjoy a moderating influence from the extremely large and nearby Lake Neusiedler. His vineyards are diverse with Riesling, Blaufränkisch, Pinot Blanc, Scheurebe, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt, Syrah and Cabernet Franc planted, among others.

He describes his vineyards in this way, “Imagine a big botanical garden, and among all these herbs, grasses, flowers, insects, birds and animals…there are vines as well. There is one vineyard in the middle of the national park – about 200 grey geese are living there during the summer season. Some of them remain throughout the whole year.”

The crucial decision for his winemaking comes at harvest and he is known for being meticulous about picking his fruit at the perfect moment of ripeness – something he judges only by taste and not by lab tests, a rarity nowadays. His winemaking is both traditional and experimental. He is constantly trying new techniques, but doesn’t use any modern technology (except for his Bucher press, the same one DRC and Yquem use).

Although there are always exceptions to Christian’s self proclaimed “Laissez Faire” winemaking approach most wines are made by foot stomping to liberate juice and natural fermentation in closed tanks that sit outside in the shade. Racking is done by gravity not pumps and all of the vessels are neutral and quite large. He uses mostly Stockinger barrels for elevage that are custom made for him. He bottles his wines when he feels they are ready, often after they have spent a great deal of time in barrel, some for as long as 5 years before bottling. Oxygen during elevage is very important to Christian and he won’t bottle wines until he thinks they have had enough.

Blended wines are co-fermented together as much as possible, the idea being for wines to get to know each other as early on as possible – rather than having the winemaker make blending decisions before bottling. It is rare for Christian to add any sulphur to the wines but if he does it happens at bottling in small doses. The wines are all unfined and unfiltered.

This are incredibly balanced wines that walk the line between drinkability and finesse, aging potential and youth, life, energy and structure. They are beautiful, living wines that challenge the drinker, changing in a glass over the course of a meal. Christian’s wines are vibrant, fresh, striking and direct just like him. In his words, “Just run… Everything left to the play of natural forces… No strict order, no fixed rules, no dogma.”

 

2016 Himmel Auf Erden Weiss

The name means “Heaven on Earth”  and is a tribute to the late Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka who was known for going against the grain, often to the point of controversy. The label image for these wines is a painting by Hrdlicka of the same name.

Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Scheurebe. Grapes are hand harvested and many are destemmed by hand while some are left on bunches.  After being crushed by foot the juice spends a couple weeks fermenting on skins in large barrels with indigenous yeast. There is no racking during this time. Elevage continues for 1 year in 500 to 1500-liter barrels and is bottled without fining or filtering. no sulphur added.

 

2015 Non-Tradition

The name is for a style of Gruner Veltliner quite different than the norm. Skin contact adds structure, weight and concentration but the wine carries incredible freshness and ripeness. Like walking through a garden fully in bloom…. This wine is a lesson in balance.

Gruner Veltliner from 40+ year old vines over two vineyard sites. Grapes are hand harvested and many are destemmed by hand while some are left on bunches. They are crushed by foot and the juice begins fermentation in large barrels with indigenous yeast and no racking. Some of the fruit spends a few weeks on skins while some is pressed immediately. The wine spends almost two years aging in barrel and is bottled without fining or filtering. No added sulphur.

 

2016 Himmel Auf Erden Rot

The name means “Heaven on Earth”  and is a tribute to the late Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka who was known for going against the grain, often to the point of controversy. The label image for these wines is a painting by Hrdlicka of the same name.

Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes are hand harvested and many are destemmed by hand while some are left on bunches. They are crushed by foot and the juice begins fermentation in large barrels with indigenous yeast and no racking. It spends 60 days macerating with the skins before being pressed into 1000-litre barrels where it spend 2 years aging. Bottled without fining or filtering. No added sulphur.

 

2015 Kapital 1

Translates to “Chapter 1”, the first chapter in Christian’s denser more structured red wines from old vines. These wines are darker, denser and more earth driven.

This cuvee is made primarily from Cabernet Franc. Grapes are hand harvested and many are destemmed by hand while some are left on bunches. They are crushed by foot and the juice begins fermentation in large barrels with indigenous yeast and no racking. It spends 2 years aging in 500 and 1200-liter barrels and is bottled without fining or filtering. No added sulphur.

 

2016 Brutal!!!

The Brutal label was originally founded by Joan Ramon Escoda, Laureano Serres and Max and Stefano from Bar Brutal in Barcelona. In Spanish the translation of “brutal” roughly means “raw” and the idea was to produce and promote wines that were raw and natural with no additives. To express that a wine is “brutal” is a great compliment to those that appreciate and love wines made naturally. The label now stretches all over the world and many great winemakers have participated.

Christian’s Brutal wine is a field blend of many varieties, the majority being Blaufrankish, Zweigelt and Syrah. Grapes are hand harvested and are all destemmed by hand. They are crushed by foot and the juice begins fermentation in large barrels with indigenous yeast and no racking. This wine sees only a short skin contact before being aged in 225 and 500 liter barrels. Bottled without fining or filtering. No added sulphur. Only 900 magnums produced.

Retail

  • Ellement Wines & Spirits
  • Kenaston Wine Market
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