Day 2: Thursday, June 11, 2009
On day two of the Austrian Wine Summit 2009 we awoke in Vienna, ate a quick, but hearty breakfast at the hotel, and boarded our buses @ 8:15 am for an event-filled trip to Burgenland. We arrived about an hour later at Wine Academy Austria in beautiful Rust for an introduction to “Wine Wonderland Austria” presented by Willi Klinger, director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.
Following this introduction were lectures and tastings entitled, “The Diversity of the Wines from Steiermark (Styria)” and “An Overview of the Wines from Burgenland,” which were both conducted by Christian Zechmeister, Managing Director of Wein Burgenland.
I enjoyed the 2008 Steibauch Grauburgunder Steibauch by the Lackner-Tinnachler winery in Gamlitz. It was creamy with a touch of vanilla and caramel, but still maintained a crisp acidity on the palate. What I took away from these lectures and tastings is that many Austrians like their wines young and with high acidity.
After visiting the Wine Academy, we traveled by bus to Eisenstadt for lunch at the Esterházy Palace featuring regional specialities from Burgenland. Lunch was delicious and I especially enjoyed the 2006 Beerenauslese by Esterházy Weingut that was served with dessert. Only wines from Esterházy Weingut were served during lunch. I actually bought a bottle of the 2007 Estoras in the airport on the way home. Following lunch was a tour of the amazing Esterházy Palace where Joseph Haydn worked as the conductor for the Esterházy court. After the tour there was an open wine tasting with a variety of Sauvignon Blanc wines from Steiermark (Styria) and Blaufrankish wines from Mittelburgenland.
Next up was a trip to Donnerskirchen for a tasting of wines from the special terroirs of the Leithaberg area at the Hans & Anita Nittnaus winery. Unfortunately, due to heavy rain we were unable to tour the vineyard, but the building itself was quite striking with massive picture windows overlooking lush green forest.
After this tasting we took a lovely boat ride across Lake Neusiedel featuring Austrian sparkling wines by Szigeti, coffee, and cakes. Peter Szigeti was on hand to open one of his wine bottles with a sabre! Lake Neusiedel is beautiful and even shallow enough that most people could walk across it. Lining the lake are small, charming fishing houses. We also caught someone taking a leisurely swim in the rain.
We arrived the the Nationalparkzentrum Neusiedlersee in Illmitz for a comparative tasting of noble sweet wines grown at either side of the lake. It was here that I finally tasted a Kracher dessert wine and it was well worth the wait. I tasted the 2006 Grand Cuvee Trockenbeerenauslese, which was sweet, raisin perfection.
Following this tasting we headed to the Restaurant Nyikospark in Neusiedl am See for an amazing “Pannonian Dinner” with wines from Burgenland. Sitting with my new friends, eating sumptuous Austrian fare, and sipping wine was a lovely way to end a day full of fun, education, and beauty.
We arrived at Hotel Pasler-Back, part winery-part seminar hotel, in Jois late at night and the majority of us headed straight to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
When my head hit the pillow it immediately began to fill with images of the Schloss Hof, where Empress Maria Theresa once lived, which was to be our first stop on Day 3 of Austrian Wine Summit 2009. Until then, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more.