Our sincerest apologies for the delay in covering what was an unbelievably fantastic event, but the truth is time away from the office drinking Austrian wine is less time in the office writing about Austrian wine… so we hope you’ll forgive us on principle.
So, let’s get right to it:
Saturday, May 28th, over 170 guests gathered from across the globe atop one of Vienna’s best-known and well-respected vineyards: Nussberg (and as we sit here sipping on some GV from there as we write this, we can assure you it wasn’t just the atmosphere.) The exact location: one of vineyards of Rotes Haus where they put on a terrific showing of not only their own wines, but of their fellow wine growers in the area. The view alone is enough to take your breath away, but we have to admit, the delicious wines crafted from Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and the signature Gemischter Satz (field blend) helped quite a bit!
In other years, the entire evening – tasting to dinner to party – would likely have taken place here, but inclement weather and less-than-desirable cool temperatures led us underground to the Rotes Haus heurigen where traditional fare, live music and, of course, more wine kept the party going late.
Here, red wines of Vienna were introduced to the group including Pinot Noir, Zweigelt and a variety of blends in addition to more white wines. If you’re not familiar with the wines from Vienna here’s a general rule for what you can expect: Mineral-rich soils lead to minerally driven white wines red wines; conversely soils from the more southern areas lead to supple reds and full-bodied whites that are heavily respected globally.
We mentioned the signature Gemischter Satz (check Eric Asimov’s article from last year here too.) Don’t be fooled by it’s title of “field blend,” this wine still has very specific guidelines that must be adhered to in order to be labeled under this term. Originally, this style of wine was mastered because as a protection against irregular vintages, but the now widely accepted style has grown to be something of pride for the this region.
The rules: First of all, all the grapes in the blend must be harvested, pressed and vinified at the same time. Which means if you don’t like what you put together you are out of luck. Second of all, the wine must be made from minimum of three and up to 20 different grape varieties. The grapes made my sourced from one or many vineyards, but like all wines the single-vineyard classification can only be used if all grapes are sourced from the same vineyard site – the most notable of which is generally Nussberg.
Nussberg is a vineyard site that has recently been rediscovered by new and innovative producers. The wines here are dry and crisp, but with incredibly complexity due to the influence of climate and the soils here. The vineyards are located on a southern slope that is highly affected by the Danube River, the Panonnian Climate and the Viennese woods. The soils predominantly consist of porous sand, gravel, chalk which attribute to the smokey flavors often found in the wines. In a word: yum.
A few more fun facts about Vienna? Vienna is the only city in the world that has a large proportion of highly respected vineyards within it’s city limits. Additionally, Vienna offers residents and visitors the chance to travel to other wine regions at the drop of a hat due to the extensive train system that stems from the city. How’s that for a wine-loving culture? Ever have a Viennese spritzer? You guessed it, that white wine and club soda cocktail has a place of origin of Vienna…and it’s not because they don’t enjoy their wine and want to dilute it…let’s be honest, this allows them to drink more and it’s refreshing on a summer day.
Overall, the Austrian Wine Summit really kicked off with what Austrian wine has been telling you to do all along: Taste Culture. From the heurigen to the traditional wines, attendees left with a real sense of Austrian wine culture. (A trip to Wein & Co. later in the night only solidified these thoughts, but that is a story for another day.)
Next up: A trip to Austria’s first DAC classified region, the Weinvertel DAC. Until then, Prost!