Natural wines made from pure grapes with the music of wild bees and the mania of its growers
We visited Hans-Peter Schmidt of Mythopia this week on a warm and sunny spring afternoon. It’s not every day a winemaker tells you that they are not an example for future winemaking. He and his wife are running a beautiful “experiment” as they call it, focusing on as little intervention as possible, biodiversity and a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
The vineyards are home to beautiful and fragrant flowers, fruit trees, rare birds and more than 60 species of butterflies! But it is their passion, their vision, and they know it’s hard to replicate what they’re doing on a larger scale.
“We do not own our wines and our wines do not own us. In fact, if we need to help too much, we are doing something wrong.”
In 2004, Hans-Peter Schmidt took over the Mythopia vineyards in the steep slopes of the Valais, facing the highest summits of the Alps, and immediately began converting to sustainable farming, looking to explore the effects of biodiversity in wine production.
They tend 3.5HA, do all the work by hand, some pruning and green pruning, and 2 to 3 treatments per year, mainly consisting of sour milk and fermented leaves. Lush green covers keep the humidity in the soil and makes it easy to spot their vineyards from a distance.
Their neighbors, for the most part, do not share their philosophy, spray their plots, and have 1 employee per HA. Hans-Peter and his wife run this whole operation on their own. They harvest a lot less, but pick only the highest quality grapes, which is evident when you take the first sip.
Their wines are complete tasting and intellectual experience, unlike anything I have tasted before.
“Wine is not just a composition of organic-chemical formulas and minerals, but a living elixir."
Most of their wines ferment on their skins, untouched, for six months, and then age for 2 years in barrel, with zero intervention as well, nothing is added, and nothing is taken away. Only with time can the wines find their balance and settle.
Hans-Peter and his wife can sometimes go for 3 months without visiting the vineyards and the cellar. “I trust my wines and they trust me”. He is firm in their approach that if they do everything right, there is nothing to fear.
“The grapes we harvest in Mythopia prosper without the interference of oenological products. Our wines are made from grapes and air, nothing more.”
Their farming and winemaking approach is combined with a profound knowledge of other cultural aspects such as music and film.
Mythopia's natural wines
100% Pinot Noir. The grapes ferment on the skins with no pump overs and are not pressed. After a short aeration in the glass the wine displays lovely fruit, surprisingly dark for a Pinot, the tannins are silky, and the palate is fresh and juicy with a beautiful, sharp acidity.
Illusion is a 100% Pinot Noir from 45 year old vines. This is a wine for easy drinking and quiet relaxation. Light, vegetal notes complement smooth tannins.
Jadis is a blend of two native grapes: Fendant and Reze. This unlike any white wine you’ve had before. The wine opens up in the glass like the flowers the vines are surrounded by in the beautiful Mythopia terraces. It has an intense nose of ripe peach and apricots, orange skin and fresh flowers, and a fresh palate with silky texture with a vibrant amber color.
Schiller from Mythopia is a 16th century term for a Rosé that is made in a particular way: red and white grapes are harvested together and mixed in the vineyard before vinification starts. A classic rosé made of Chasselas and Pinot Noir but blended in the field during harvest. A unique, delightful wine to be enjoyed chilled on a slow summer's eve.
Read more about Hans-Peter and his wines on his website
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