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Engelberg gets ready to hit the trails!

26 October 2018

Patience is a virtue for our vintner

A year and a half ago, Engelberg’s Benedictine Abbey made the headlines when it purchased almost three hectares of vineyard in a location next to Lake Biel. The Abbey had once owned a large vineyard there for around 200 years until 1433. In June 2018, the Abbey’s first white wine for 585 years was delivered – and it tasted good! Noted wine critics like Yves Beck and famous restaurant guide Gault-Millau gave vintner Beat Burkhardt top marks for his Chasselas. And now a second generation of Engelberg Abbey wine is quietly maturing by Lake Biel.

A busy time begins for Beat when the grapes are harvested in mid-September. The process of vinifying is very time-consuming and requires constant monitoring. In particular, the fermentation of the grape must in the tanks is crucial for the subsequent aromas, flavours and character of the wine and must not be rushed. It’s a real test of patience for the vintner as he has to give the wine the time it needs to mature. In a second fermentation process, the malic acid present in the wine is converted into lactic acid, and, again, the vintner has to be patient. The young white wine is then left to age in steel tanks for the next three months, while the young red wine is stored in wooden barrels for a total of twelve months. 
 

The first samples of the 2018 Chasselas and Pinot Noir – produced here for the first time – were very promising, but the important thing right now is that the vintner give the young wine sufficient time to mature. The vines’ year ends when they lose their leaves in the autumn and begins again in January when they are pruned. Then the vintner will start tending lovingly to his vines to ensure a good harvest later in the year. Right now, however, all his attention is directed to the maturation process of the new Abbey wines. At least the risk of the wine evaporating on the road from Lake Biel to Engelberg, as often happened in the 15th century, is negligible! 

Written by: Beat Christen
Images: Beat Christen