A Great Riesling is Born

DOMANE ROLAND CHAN, the name, is not what it seems.

I don’t mean the spelling of “Domaine” rendered as “Domane” in  German.

Rather that the name may allude to it belonging to someone called “Roland Chan”.

“Roland Chan” is a combination of the names Roland Müksch and that of his wife Dr Sharon Chan (Ph D in Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford).

‘“Müksch” is too hard to pronounce’, the friendly Austrian allowed last August 15th as Guest-of-Honour presenting four of his captivating Rieslings at Jade Palace Restaurant.

Rewind to 2017. 

That fateful year, Müksch and his family realised the dream of founding a winery. 

“Dream” does not adequately describe it. After all, if one were to cultivate vines in Austria, you can’t really do better than in the Wachau along the shimmering Danube, or up on the mountains cosseted by forest. It’s the Burgundy equivalent of sinking vines into Vosne-RomaneeMusigny, or Chambertin.

Human settlement is believed to have existed in the Wachau a very long time ago. Certainly by the early Neolithic period from 4500 BCE. In 15 BCE, the Celtic Noricum Kingdom became part of the Roman Empire. More recently – 1192 to be exact –Richard I, aka Lionheart, of England was held captive in Durnstein by Leopold V, Duke of Austria. 

In 2000, Wachau was inscribed as an UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in recognition of its architectural and agriculture history. Wachau is just an hour by train or car from Vienna. 

The day before our Singapore dinner came propitious news!

Austria announced its Wine Law Collective Decree establishing an official classification of the country’s single vineyards. There will be two tiers: “Große Lage” or Grand Cru and  “Erste Lage” or Premier Cru. The first classifications are expected in 2025. For more on the subject – including a list of the criteria – check out www.austrianwine.com/search/news?tx_solr%5Bq%5D=classification%20in%202025.

Two years earlier in 2021, Domane Roland Chan became more entwined with the Wachau when Roland Müksch and Sharon Chan completed a home in Wosendorf (they are based in Singapore) and a winery in Sankt Michael.

The couple are owners of 1.9  hectares of vineyards spread across four sites. These are in Klaus (0.25 ha), Achleiten (0.3 ha), Bach (0.6 ha) and Holl (0.75 ha). Check out their riveting drone videos at domaene-rolandchan.at.

Four vineyards totally just 1.9 hectares may seem an incredibly modest, if not actually minuscule, concern. Until you see the sparkle in Roland Muksch’s eyes when he ruminates about his grape treasures.

Klaus

Achleiten

Bach

Holl

Four vineyards in the right place and with advantageous exposure to the elements, even if just under two hectares, can mean a mighty lot in great wine. However, in Roland Muksch’s day job as a private banker advising high net-worth clients more used to seven, eight, or more figures, 1.9 hectares must seem an incredibly modest, if not actually minuscule, concern. Until you see the sparkle in Muksch’s eyes when he ruminates about his grape treasures.

Domane Roland Chan Riesling – Klaus, Achleiten, Bach and Holl – possess immediate presence on the palate. The purity of fruit, if anymore more pristine, we would think we were drinking the equivalent of water condensed from the dew collected at dawn. The line of fruit – flowers, young apples, eager citrus, dashes of spice, complex minerals, and more – in spite of their different subtleties attributed to their different micro terroirs, they all possess a shared DNA. Tension! 

Their stamina, like a V12 spinning top, is unrelenting. The wines have a charged density not to be confused with concentration. The latter often equates a lop-sided heaviness where density is harmonious even in richness. The Rieslings of Domane Roland Chan luxuriates but do not swarm.

The question which remains is their longevity. Not age per se but how in their engagement with time, they will evolve. Age is secondary in wine (or life) if in the ageing, one does not become more attractive or better. Time will, therefore, tell.

While we may not know where the wines will finally “land”, like a ball that has been thrown, we know the direction and their path.

Riesling lovers count the Mosel and Rheingau as two places we worship. We now have to add Wachau.

Wine has been produced in Wachau since Roman times. It’s tendrils link centuries and cultures before and since then. Austrian Wine in the 21st Century can be justly proud to add Domane Roland Chan to more than 2,000 years of grape history.

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