Having just arrive to Austria, our group was whisked from the plane and immediately to one of the best views in Vienna’s. No complaints here, the Nussberg, one of Vienna’s most famous vineyards, is known for top-tier wine production. This particularly vineyard, owned by winery Rotes Haus, not currently exported to the US, it one of much fanfare. It’s the perfect place to experience the vineyards and Vienna and to truly gain appreciation for the fact that Vienna is one of the few places in the world that is known for quality wine production within its city limits.
Here, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, Traminer, Gelber Muskateller, Chardonnay, and other white grapes dominate, though Zweigelt is also grown. Although they are quite delicious when vinified on their own, the region has become best-known for its specialized field blend, Weiner Gemischter Satz, which literally means mixed set.
Here’s a little background on that wine:
Gemischter Satz is a white wine that contain anywhere from 3 to 13 different white grapes all grown in the same vineyard. The grapes are still harvested when ripe based upon their individual character, but they are also vinified and fermented together adding a complexity and distinction to the wines not found elsewhere in the country. Add to this the region’s unique soils and its no wonder this style has gained international recognition.
In addition to being simply delicious, though, Gemiscther Satz, holds a certain weight in the tradition of Austria. Vienna is also known for its heurigens – traditional wine taverns – which hold much of the country’s heritage to date. These taverns are local establishments attached to wineries where-in locals would enjoy their first sips of a year’s wines alongside locally prepared, cold dishes and straight from the barrel. Here, villagers and friends would gather to celebrate the finalized product and would often meet here until the last drip was drunk. Today, many of these heurigens still exist, though, most of them also provide hot food now as well (thank you technology!)
But anyway, back to the tasting. We were met by three winemakers atop the Nussberg that day, Stephan Hajszan of Weingut Hajszan, Rainer Christ of Weingut Christ, and Gerhard Lobner of Mayer am Pfarrplatz/Rotes Haus. Fortunately for us, we were also able to taste the wines of Fritz Wieninger, Michael Edlmoser, and the Vienna’s cooperative winery, Cobenzl. During the tasting we tried six Gemischter Satz, one from each winery, and another wine from each winemaker that is representative of the region.
2012 Wiener Gemischter Satz Weisleiten from Rainer Christ
2012 Wiener Gemischter Satz from Weingut Cobenzl
2012 Wiener Gemischter Satz from Mayer am Pfarrplatz
2012 Wiener Gemischter Satz Bisamberg Alte Reben from Fritz Wieninger
2012 Wiener Gemischter Satz Dorflage from Michael Edlmoser
What is interesting about Gemischter Satz, and perhaps a challenge for the US market, is that the wines are quite different. As there is generally no indication of the blend of grapes used on the label it can be difficult for consumers to understand what they are buying. But instead of looking at is as a challenge, instead look at is as a game and once you get to know a producer well enough you’ll realize that it is that producer’s own style that really comes through the wines.
Coincidentally, our friend Alder Yarrow (recently posted about as well) just wrote a great story about Gemischter Satz for the World of Fine Wines. Read it.