The Other White Meat pork campaign from 2005

The Other Austria, Don't be Blah!

Share

When one thinks of Austrian wines, generally speaking, Gruner Veltliner is what pops to mind after a huge wave of cheap, 1 Liter bottlings washed across America's shores in the 90s, much as Italy's Chiantis in the iconic fiasco, straw covered bottles did in the 60s & 70s. And just as one associates Austria with dry whites paired with Schnitzel, the regions that are most well known produce the most expensive expressions of Gruner and Riesling, namely the western reaches along the Danube of the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal. The lesser known southern regions (from Vienna) have long wine making histories, some dating to the time of the Roman Empire, yet haven't reached the same level of recognition as their northern and western cousins (perhaps due to the lack of high end cruiseable river trips). I propose looking at these lesser known regions with their wealth of native varietals both red and white.

Thermenregion and spa town Baden directly south of Vienna

We welcome Austria's newest DAC since July of 2023! Traveling 20 minutes south from Vienna, we arrive in the Thermenregion. Vines – and baths built around the thermal, sulphuric waters of the region (the town of Baden) – have existed here for more than 2,000 years, thanks to the Romans. A chain of gentle east-facing slopes with soils of varyingly mixed limestone and clay brings Burgundy to mind; Cistercian monks brought Burgundian varieties to the Thermenregion in the late 12th century. Wines produced from the indigenous Rotgipfler and Zierfandler varieties were favorites of the Habsburgs, and although the Paris Exposition of 1855 is perhaps better known for sparking Bordeaux’s classification system, it was actually a Rotgipfler from the Thermenregion that took first prize at the fair!

Bucolic Thermenregion vineyard

Thermenregion's ambassador "par excellence" is Stadlmann. I've included below an excerpt from TRINK magazine: "Bernhard Stadlmann is one of nine Thermenregion producers who have opted to join the ÖTW (Austria’s association of traditional wine estates). His family estate in Traiskirchen has roots that reach back to the Napoleonic era, when the French recognized Stadlmann wines for their excellence. His familiarity with Burgundy stems from his days as an enology student there. But the most important lesson he took from that experience is: “In wine regions that are rich in tradition, you learn how strong the traditions of your own region are. Austria naturally calls to mind Grüner Veltliner and Zweigelt,” Stadlmann acknowledges. But in the Thermenregion, it is small quantities of other Austrian originals that thrive. Most notable are the white varieties Rotgipfler, with 113 hectares planted, and Zierfandler, at just 72 hectares. The red grape St. Laurent isn’t a trendy one (yet), but Austria’s renowned viticultural research center Klosterneuburg selected the Thermenregion as the first place to establish it. Rounding out the quartet is acclaimed Pinot Noir, which the Cistercians are thought to have brought from hallowed Burgundian ground in 1141 when they came to settle the Thermenregion village of Thallern and its vineyards". Stadlmann tends vines that date to the 1960s, when Thermenregion vineyards were widely being converted to single-stake or wire trellising. He likes to explain his flagship varieties, Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, in terms of more familiar varieties: Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Zierfandler, like Riesling, prefers shallower soils and drier sites. The ripening process is also similar: late, with good potential acidity. Rotgipfler, by contrast, likes deeper, clay-enriched soils with better water retention. We are pleased to offer his Zierfandler and Pinot Noir. 

Burgenland whose entire eastern flank borders Hungary

Traveling directly southeast, we arrive in Burgenland. It produces the country’s best and most respected red wines, from vineyards whose proximity to Hungary’s warm Pannonian plains ensures proper ripening for the indigenous Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. The northern sector of Burgenland is dominated by Lake Neusiedl (or Neusiedlersee), Europe’s largest steppe lake, which straddles the Austria-Hungarian border. It is on the lake's northeastern corner that we find the town of Gols where the Nittnaus family have resided since 1684. Spicy dry white wines are created on the local limestone soils in the western Leithaberg DAC; whereas Zweigelt, flourishes in the eastern Neusiedlersee DAC. We are pleased to offer Nittnaus's white blend Kalk & Schiefer (Pinot Blanc and Gruner Veltliner) from the former and their Zweigelt from the latter. Also known as Rotburger, Zweigelt was created in 1922 by Friedrich Zweigelt and comprises a crossing between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. The current Nittnaus estate was established by Hans’ grandfather Johann Nittnaus in 1927, and was taken over by Anita & Hans in 1985. Certified organic and  biodynamic, not only are they considered a leading winery of the Neusiedlersee wine region, but also one of  the best wine producers of Austria.

Sunset in Leithaberg looking east to lake Neusiedlersee

Moving west to the town of St. Margarethen in between Eisenstadt and Rust in the Leithaberg DAC, we come to the Rosi Schuster winery. Although named after the mother Rosi, it is now run by the son Hannes Schuster, who is known in wine circles as the St. Laurent whisperer. Although it originated in Thermenregion, I find that Hannes's St Laurents are the purest and most elegant expression of the varietal. A mentee and collaborator with Burgenlands most famous winemaker, Roland Velich of Moric fame, Hannes Schuster seems to coax the most Burgundian parallel from Pinot Noir's Austrian cousin. Certified organic, using native yeasts and minimal sulphur, his St Laurent is a spectacular light bodied, mineral and velvety example for bantam weight red wine lovers.

Tom Straka in his vineyards

Continuing onwards to the southernmost part of Burgenland, we arrive in the Eisenberg DAC, located a 2 hour drive straight south of Vienna. Green and blue slate as well as heavy, iron-rich clay lay like a geological patchwork; together with the dance between warm days and cool airflow at night, the small DAC enjoys ideal conditions for expressive Blaufränkisch wines. It is in the town of Rechnitz on the last foothill of the Alps that we find Straka. Meaning magpie (hence the birds on the wine labels), the estate has been run by Tom Straka since 2008. The estate was established by his family in the 18th century when they moved to the area from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). In the 1950s they were the first family in the area to start a Heuriger or Buschenschank (wine tavern) so that people could come and eat while sampling their wines. It proved a very successful model for them and today, their Buschenschank remains a staple of the area while most others have closed! Tom farms organically and practices minimal intervention in the cellar wherein his primary focus is Welschriesling and Blaufrankisch, the main indigenous grapes of the area. Welschriesling's closest relative is Elbling. The variety is also cultivated in Hungary (Olasz Rizling), Slovenia & Serbia (Laski Riesling ) and Croatia (Graševina). In Austria, it is the third most cultivated grape variety and is particularly popular as a light, citrusy warm weather wine. It is also popular for blends with mineral or soda water as so-called Gespritzter, as well as for the production of sparkling wine. As to Blaufrankisch, documentary evidence of this variety in Austria dates back to the 18th century. It was only later that there was evidence of the variety in Germany, where it was referred to as “Lemberger” or “Limberger”, after the town of Limberg. In Hungary, this variety is known as Kékfrankos. We are pleased to offer both of these wines from Tom, grown on the region's famous green schist dominant soils. 

We hope you will enjoy all these Eastern wines, paired perhaps with Austria's iconic Weiner Schnitzel vom Schwein, THE OTHER WHITE MEAT!

ALL WINES ARE AVAILABLE IN STORE AND FOR PICK UP/SHIPPING.

PROST! GISELLE HAMBURG

 

Stadlmann 2021 Thermenregion Zierfandler Anning

 Zierfandler is one of 2 main white grapes of the Thermenregion 20 minutes south of Vienna. Dating back to the Habsburg empire, it was a favorite of the emperors and court. For lovers of dry rieslings, kerner and dry chenins with explosive aromas of lime, wet rocks, fresh herbs and meadow flowers. The palate is zingy with intense flavors of lime, pear,  herbaceousness and chalky minerality with a medium body and zesty acidity. Whole cluster pressed, spontaneous fermentation in large wood tanks and four months on the lees lend a certain velvety creaminess.  An absolute delight and eminently pairable with a wide variety of fish, vegetable, greens and cheeses.  Don't Be Blah!!  Giselle Hamburg

  • white
  • 20 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic

Nittnaus, Anita & Hans 2021 Burgenland Pinot Blanc Gruner Kalk & Schiefer

 Made of 65% Pinot Blanc & 35% Grüner Veltliner, this delightful wine hails from soils of chalk and slate, from the northern part of Leithaberg mountains in Burgenland  Grown in soils of chalk and slate which impart an extremely mineral  profile. Herbaceous and mineral aromas are underscored by notes of lemon oil, green apple.and sea spray. A fabulous wine for summer, zesty and refreshing! Giselle Hamburg

  • red
  • 9 in stock
  • $20.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rosi Schuster 2021 Burgenland St. Laurent Classic St Margarethen

This lone St. Laurent on the shelf right now is simply a knock-out and one of the best examples of the variety I've tried. The bright-fruited nose is laced with complex baking-spice aromas: cinnamon, nutmeg and anise. Well-balanced and refreshing, this wine could take a light chill and become dangerously drinkable. Spontaneously fermented in open tanks, and not a single new barrel goes near this wine, so drink up! A quick note: this is the third vintage we've worked with this wine and it's by far the best. No one is making better reds in Austria than Hannes Schuster and this vintage's earthy character brings new complexity to an already reliably great wine. — jfr

  • red
  • 3 in stock
  • $23.99

Straka 2022 Burgenland Welschriesling 'Greenschist'

Welschriesling, a slightly less aromatic Eastern European cousin to Riesling and Elbling is mineral-driven with  delicate nuances of yellow apples and herbs with elegant, fresh acidity. Grapes are from an old Hungarian clone of Welschriesling. The Straka estate boasts the oldest known Welschriesling vineyard in Burgenland, the Prantner. Greenschist is a new bottling from this natural winemaking husband and wife winery. As always it is farmed organically. In this rendition the 85 year old Hungarian clone Welschriesling is made in a very old fashioned traditional way honoring this wonderful old vineyard. Tom is certified organic, but his wines could be labeled natural due to the spontaneous fermentation, and the fact nothing else is added to the wine except for a touch of sulfur at bottling .

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Straka 2020 Burgenland Blaufrankisch 'Greenschist'

A delightful Blaufrankisch from Sud Burgenland near the border with Hungary. The 2020 vintage manages a fine balancing act between savory and plummy notes but will also be able to age gracefully due to the higher acid and the mineral notes imparted by the green schist soil type. An ideal red that can pair with a wide variety of foods!  -Giselle Hamburg

  • red
  • 1 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
Sorry, the Following have Already Sold

Stadlmann 2019 Thermenregion Pinot Noir Classic

The Stadlmann family has been making wine since the 1780s in the Thermenregion; sheltered from the northern winds by the Vienna Woods, it is one of Austria's warmest wine growing areas. The 'Classic' line of wines are aged in large, used barrels to showcase the true character of the grape and terroir.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

Nittnaus, Anita & Hans 2019 Burgenland Blauer Zweigelt

Nittnaus’ spectacular Zweigelt comes from vines planted in the loess of the Parndorf plain, between the Leitha hills and Lake Neusiedl. Spontaneously fermented, it spends 12 months aging in used 500-liter oak casks from the renowned Stockinger cooperage, and is bottled with minimal sulfur. This delivers plenty of concentration and tension on its modest 12.5%-alcohol frame, with earthy, spicy purple fruits and a beam of lifted acidity.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur