Hartmann Donà

Hartmann produces two ranges of wines, a simple stainless steel vinification and a medium-complexity to complex vinification in wood. Originally he only produced the latter. Then his Italian distributor suggested he needed simple but quality generic Alto Adige wines, and Hartmann was able to raise his total production to 25,000 bottles per year.

The basic philosophy is not to mess with the wines.

Hartmann is one of the more difficult wine personas to describe, because he is constantly developing. In his pursuit of excellent wines in Alto Adige Südtirol, Hartmann has changed his strategy several times, but his unwavering vision to make natural, uncompromising territorial wines has never faltered.

Story

Hartmann originally graduated from the University of Geisenheim, Germany. He worked for the Kellerei Terlan (IT Cantina di Terlano) as their enologist from 1994 to 2002. In 2000 he began making plans to become an independent wine producer and in 2002 he finally left Terlano.

Hartmann had a family vineyard in Girlan/Cornaiano of 0.65ha planted to Pinot Nero when he began. He was later able to long-term lease what he felt was one of the perhaps three top vineyard plots in Alto Adige, located in Merano just north of the botanical gardens. Nestled on a steep hill like an amphitheater this 3.6ha changed Hartmann’s appreciation of how to reach his goals. I remember how excited he was when he showed me the vineyard and how enthusiastically he worked to improve the vineyard, replacing vines, rebuilding terrace walls. Two years ago, after nearly working himself to death and literally nearly falling off the cliff on his tractor, he decided to end the lease.

This has had existential consequences both for Hartmann and for myself. I sometimes have a tendency to fall in love with a wine methodology and become dogmatic about it. One dogma has been, until Hartmann showed me the light, that a great wine producer invariably owns or long-term leases vineyards from which they source grapes for their wines, that wines made with bought grapes can never be as good as a home-made product. As it turns out, Hartmann has searched deep into himself and realized that his strength is understanding how to manage vineyards, and then Hartmann is very talented at vinifying wines. While he still had the Merano amphitheater he began searching for solutions to live off his winery (he works as an external natural wine consultant for small wineries), i.e. how he could increase bottle production from a very low level of 10-15,000 bottles. Through his consultancy his search led him to tighter cooperations with wine growers, who have now de facto gone into a joint venture with Hartmann.

Thus the Hartmann Donà winery comprises of five growers who are supervised by Hartmann Donà in the vineyard, as well as Hartmann who still has his small parcels, but he can now concentrate his talent and energy on making even greater wines. It took me an hour to swallow my dogma pride that great wine cannot be produced from external grapes, when Hartmann introduced me to the next chapter in his life story which he thinks will give him more peace and pleasure.

Philosophy

The basic philosophy is not to mess with the wines. Hartmann uses only small doses of sulphites, and for his simple wines sometimes selected yeasts. He is influenced by biodynamics and in the past it was very much his credo. Today he still uses all the biodynamic preparations in his Girlan Pinot Nero vineyard, but I have noticed that he has taken a more pragmatic and less singular view on vineyard management in general. This also initially surprised me, but lately my own rigidity is perhaps giving way to appreciation for producers who can free themselves from any rigid rule set, whether conventional or biodynamic, and treat their natural environment with the utmost respect on a more personal level. I must stress though that this does not mean that I condone any type of inquination of the vineyard, or adding additives or changing wines during vinification.

Hartmann produces two ranges of wines, a simple stainless steel vinification and a medium-complexity to complex vinification in wood. Originally he only produced the latter. Then his Italian distributor suggested he needed simple but quality generic Alto Adige wines, and Hartmann was able to raise his total production to 25,000 bottles per year.

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