Last week we welcomed Wein Burgenland to NYC once again and we couldn’t be happier with their trip. Accompanied by the Burgenland agricultural team, Managing Director of Wein Burgenland, Christian Zechmeister, conducted two very significant, important, and eye opening seminars targeted at importers, distributors and members of the trade. Tuesday evening the crew attended the friends and family event for the opening of the Paulaner Brauhaus and Restaurant on Bowery and East Houston – a great way to kick-off the tour as Paulaner’s CEO, Wolfgang Ban, is a native Burgenlander and spectacular chef – if you have a chance, check out the new space or his other restaurants that he co-own Seasonal Restaurant and Weinbar, Edi & the Wolf, and The Third Man. Wednesday morning a collective of importers and distributors gathered at the Austrian Trade Commission in New York. The tasting focused on the state of Burgenland, now, but also showcased older vintages to 2011 and how the wines can truly express their sense of place. Wines tasted included:

  • Liegenfeld Winery, Gruner Veltliner Leithaberg DAC 2012
  • Mad Winery, Chardonnay, Leithaberg DAC 2012
  • Reeh Winery, Zweigelt Neusiedlersee DAC 2012IMG_9148
  • Paul Achs, Zweigelt Alte Reben 2012
  • Pittnauer Winery, St. Laurent, Rosenberg 2011
  • Gernot & Heike Heinrich Winery, Blaufrankisch Alte Berg 3022
  • Werner Achs, Xur 2011
  • Anita & Hans Nittnaus, Tannenberg 2009
  • Angerhof Tschida, Gelber Muskateller Eiswein 2009

Zechmeister spoke of the different areas of Burgenland from Gols to Eisenstadt and everything in between and surrounding, but what he emphasized were the vintages noting that these are particular notes from Burgenland, not the whole of Austria. 2009– Difficult with weather all around, but the 2009 vintage is categorized as being great. The red wines benefitted from a warm late summer through harvest which helped to balance the earlier record amounts of rainfall the vines saw in June. As a result, they had high extract, tannin, and concentration. White wines were similar and classified as “harmonic.” As for the sweets, clean botrytis was able to form here and ice wine also flourished, making it an excellent year.

2010- This was a challenging year for Burgenland with unpredictable weather patterns and the high amounts of range encouraged infectious rot which had to be combatted with careful skill. Harvest took place early with some places completing it all by the end of October. Unfortunately, the high levels of rainfall resulted in low yields- about 30% decrease. Winemakers had to make a choice as to whether they wanted to harvest earlier or later. Those who chose the earlier resulted in fresh, fruity wines, whilst those who chose later results in concentrated, robust examples.

IMG_91082011- Fortunately, 2011 brought back the quantities that Burgenland had been missing in years 2009 and 2010 – and at an exceptional quality. “2011 white wines impress with a perfect combination of ripeness, abundance of fruit and compexity and are extraordinarily harmonious on the palate. Thanks to the perfect autumn the reds combine distinctive deep colour, fruit, tannins and tightness. In short: everything points to an excellent vintage.”

2012- This was also a good vintage as weather conditions were somewhat favorable again, though slightly dry and warm. Harvest offered good weather so the winemakers were able to extend the harvest period and choose optimum times for each grape and vineyard. This vintage should prove well for aging offering reds with moderate acidity, but good fruit character and spice, as is characteristic of the wines. The whites are also powerful and fruity and sweet wines are fantastic in this year.

2013 – This was another challenging year weather wise offering winemakers a cold and damp winter leading into spring, a hot summer, and wet fall – but the results were outstanding. The wines are characterized by fruitiness and drinkability with excellent red wines and sweet wines, too.

On to Boston, we enjoyed a scenic ride through Connecticut and dinner at Menton – one of Boston’s best restaurants. Definitely worth checking out if you are ever in the area and lots of Austrian wine to choose from for the table. Our event on Thursday, hosted at the Island Creek Oyster Bar was well-attended by local writers, restauranteurs, retail shops, distributors and more. Here, Zechmeister led a seminar showcasing Burgenland’s “Diversity in Red.” leading the crowd through a basic understanding of Burgenland as a region and then a more focused tasting on the terroir of Blaufrankisch. Those wines were: Flight one:

  • Winzerkeller Andau Zweigelt 2012
  • Weingut Netzl Zweigelt 2010IMG_9140
  • Weingut Juris St Laurent Selection 2011
  • Weingut Iby Blaufrankisch Classic 2012
  • Weingut Meinklang Burgenland Red 2012

Flight two:

  • Paul Achs Blaufrankisch Edelgrund 2010
  • Weingut Prieler Leithaberg DAC Blaufrankisch 2011
  • Weingut Krutzler Blaufrankisch Reserve 2010
  • Weingut Moric Burgenland Moric Reserve 2011

In the third flight, Zechmeister threw in a “pirate” wine and encouraged the group to taste the
wines blind questioning who would be able to tell the difference between the wines. The pirate, a Bordeaux blend from St. Emilion, was obvious to some as it did not possess the same structure or character among the other wines. The wines included in that flight were:

  • Anita & Hans Nittnaus Tannenberg Blaufrankisch 2009
  • Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere 2010
  • Pockl Admiral Red Blend 2011
  • Gernot Heinrich Gabarinza 2011

Many tasters at the event are greatly familiar with Austrian wines and are also established supporters. For many others, however, the experience was eye-opening and the exposure to these grapes was outstanding.

After the tasting we gathered for a bite to eat at the restaurant and then it was time to say our goodbyes – hopefully returning to Boston soon.