Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moving Announcement!

I have a very important announcement to make!

In an effort to make Austrian Wine information more accessible to a curious wine consumer we have decided to change the domain name for the Austrian Wine blog to:

Please visit this blog for the latest information on Austrian wine regions, grapes, events, contests and other information! We look forward to seeing you there!


***the guess the grape contest will be moved to the new location 7/1/10

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Thermenregion

During VieVinum I had the opportunity to visit the Thermenregion, one of Austria's most unique wine regions.

It was a simple case of right place, right time. On the third day of the wines show, I ran into Matt Stinton of Hearth Restaurant and Terroir Wine Bar in NYC who just so happened to be going on a private tour of the Stadlman Vineyard with winemaker, Bernhard Stadlman, and to my delight they invited me along.

Here's a little background:

The Thermenregion consists of 42 winemaking communities and 700 winegrowers, currently planted on approximately 2,600 hectares of land. The vineyard’s range begins just outside of Vienna’s city limits and runs along a chain of hills known as the Eichkogel, the Anninger, the Pfaffstättner Kogel, the Badener Berg and the Sosser Lindkogel and ends just south of Baden.

Despite the region’s historical beginnings, winemakers of the region incorporate many modern day winemaking practices such as nature friendly vineyard care, limited production, exacting grape selection and careful vinification of the wines. These practices allow the wines of the Thermenregion to stand out with refinement and elegance, depth and complexity and to pair excellently with food.


The weather was unusually cold for May when we were there, but the Thermenregion is typically known for hot summers, dry autumns and cool winters. Vines are protected from excess moisture by the Anninger ridge and see a considerable amount of sunshine which all but keeps the grapes immune from mildew and rot.


Stadlman brought Matt and I through the vineyards before moving on to the winery and gave us an overview of the region. Originally, this area was submersed in the sea which accounts for the oyster shells that have been unearthed from the soil. This created the terroir for the region that imprints each grape with a distinct minerality.

The region is made up of a variety of soil types including two primary soils that are ideal for growing both red and white grape varietals. On the slopes of the hills the soils are made up of loam-rich clay, sandy loam and brown earth with a high shell limestone content. These are ideal conditions for some of Austria’s lesser known grapes such as Zierfandler and Rotgipfler.

On the other side of the region, on flat ground in the rightly named Stone Field, the soils are predominately made of the highly permeable limestone gravel. Here red varietals such as Blaufränksich, Pinot Noir and St. Laurent thrive.


Wines have been crafted in the Thermenregion for over two thousand years beginning with the Romans in the Noricum province on the slopes of the Anninger at the base of the Pannonian basin. Wines of the Thermenregion have played an important role in Austrian history and the region is believed to be Austria’s oldest winemaking operation originating with the monastery of the Monks of Helingenkreuz.

Wines from the Thermenregion were generally chosen to accompany the meals served at Hofburg and Schönbrunn and the region was given special preservation upon the construction of the Austrian railway. The region achieved DAC status in 1985 under the Austrian Wine Act, but was called Weine von der Südbahn (the Wines from the Austrian Southern Railway) until relatively recently.


Grapes in the Thermenregion generally have thick skins due to rapid temperature changes between hot and cool that take place here and, as a result, provide for very aromatic wines. White, red and dessert wines are all produced in the Thermenregion thanks to the outstanding soil and weather conditions. Red and white grapes are generally grown in equal balance in this region; predominance depends upon the part of the region.

The Thermenregion is most famously known for the Zierfandler and Rotfipfler grape varieties as they are most widely grown in this region. Other white grapes include Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Neuberger. Predominant red grapes include St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Blauer Portugieser and Zweigelt.

The Tasting:

The Stadlman winery is located within the small province of Traiskirchen and is generally open to visitors via appointment only, though the building is equipped with a restaurant and tasting room that is open approximately five times a year for a total of ten days.

Bernhard brought Matt and I into the cellars where we tasted barrel samples of both the 2009 Rotgipfler and the 2009 Zierfandler. It was clear these wines had some aging to do, but I was impressed by the complexity they were already showing so early in the vinification process.

After this experience we retreated to the tasting room where Bernhard tasted us on the wines imported into the US including the 2008 vintages of the Zierfandler and Rotgipfler wines from the Anninger as well as the Zierfandler Mandol-Höf and the Rotgipfler Tagelsteiner. As a special treat, Bernhard also tasted Matt and I on the 2006 vintage of the Zierfandler Anninger showcasing the grapes ability to age and develop.

Unfortunately, the Thermenregion, as well as the Zierfandler and Rotgipfler varieties are not as readily know in the United States yet, though it has been said by many that they actually prefer them to Gruener Veltliner at times. Perfect for pairing with oysters (naturally) these wines are a gem waiting to be discovered by the masses.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

“Advanced Course – Wines and Spirits International” and “WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits” - Excellent wine education in the heart of Austrian wine

The VIEVINUM Wine Fair 2010 in Vienna hosted the launch of an exciting new wine qualification offered by the Austrian Wine Academy, conducted in English, to commence in autumn of 2010. It offers a unique opportunity to participants to combine learning about international wines with practical first hand experience in viticulture and wine-making and all of this in the unique and picturesque environment of the Academy’s training centre in Rust in the Burgenland wine region.

The Austrian Wine Academy – a not for profit organisation – was founded 20 years ago and in that short time has acquired the formidable status of being the largest wine educational institution in Continental Europe, with approximately 20 000 wine enthusiasts attending seminars annually. In addition to courses offered in Austria, there are also centres in Germany (Campus Geisenheim), Switzerland (Campus Wädenswil) and Südtirol/Alto Adige, but to date the language medium has been only German.

The Advanced Course – Wines and Spirits International is an internationally standardised qualification in the area of “global wines and spirits”. It covers the most important wine regions of the world, as well as all wine styles, including sparkling and fortified wines and incorporates a section on spirits. Students are taught to critically understand and evaluate international wines and spirits. The level of this qualification is internationally defined and is recommended for all professional areas of the wine business: wine trade, gastronomy, wine management and wine production. It has been designed as a residential course and late afternoons and evenings are designated to workshops, visits to vineyards and wineries and educational tastings.

Successful graduates of this course may then move on to the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits, also an international trade qualification and known in Austria and associated centres as Weinakademiker. Since 1993, the Austrian Wine Academy has been a partner of the British Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and has been offering Diploma courses in German language in Rust. The very first Diploma course in the English language will commence in Rust on May 10th 2011.

Dr Josef Schuller MW, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Academy and current Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, comments: “This is an exciting new development which enables us to offer students from around the world the opportunity to study and progress from a solid professional level of wine, via the WSET Diploma, all the way to the Master of Wine Programme, here in this unique setting in Rust”.

Advanced Course Fee, including lunches and all visits: EUR 1290.-

Autumn Date: 11-15th October and 11 – 14th November 2010, a total of 9 days

Spring Date: 14-18th March and 4-7th April 2011, a total of 9 days

For further information, please contact: Mag (FH) Irene Bachkönig, Seehof, A 7071 Rust; phone: 0043 (0) 2685 6853-15; e-mail:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wine on the Rocks Video : ON THE GO IN VIENNA - VIEVINUM - PART 003 - Interview with John Szabo on Knoll wines

ON THE GO IN VIENNA - PART 003 - CANUCK GRAND CRÜE from Finkus Bripp on Vimeo.

EWBC Kickoff Event in NYC!

The European Wine Blogger's Conference, hosted by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board in Vienna October 22-24, kicked off in NYC last night at the Austrian Cultural Center with special thanks to Gabriella and Ryan Opaz of Catavino.

The event showcased a variety of wines from a variety of grapes such as Austria's indigenous Blaufränkisch, Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and Zierfandler, as well as international varietals such as Syrah. Another bonus was the array of Austria's field blend, Gemischter Satz, contributed by Darcy and Huber and poured by Paul Darcy.

Wines contributed and poured by Klaus Wittauer of KW Selections Mittelbach Zweigelt Rose 2009, Anton Bauer Gmörk Grüner Veltliner 2009, Tegernseerhof T 26 Grüner Veltliner Federspeiel 2009, Anton Bauer Rosenberg Reserve Grüner Veltliner 2008 , Tegernseerhof Grüner Veltliner Loibenberg 2008, Anton Bauer Wagram Pinot Noir 2006, Hillinger Zweigelt 2009, Hillinger Blaufrankisch 2008 and Hillinger Hillside 2007.

Wittauer, owner of KW Selections, has been importing Austrian wines for over ten years focusing on boutique wineries with a small about of press coverage, but also make top quality wines at an excellent price. Wittauer follows the philosophy that Austrian wines must be introduced to the general American wine drinker at a low price for every day drinking and by the glass selection. Three of KW Selections wines were recently reviewed by the Washington Post. Check it out here.

Wines were also contributed by Monika Caha Selections/Frederick Wildman and Sons, LTD Anne Micic Viducic of Aroma Wine Consulting and Monika Caha Selections poured Weninger Blaufraenkisch Hochaecker 2008, Neumeister Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Anita & Hans Nittnaus Comondor 2004, Stadlmann Zierfandler Mandelhoeh 2008, Graf Hardegg Riesling vom Schloss 2008, Fritsch Pinot Noir P 2004 and Forstreiter Gruener Veltliner Schiefer 2008. Monika Caha Selections focuses on small, family owned wineries that follow organic farming practices even though many are not certified.

An array of Gemischter Satz wines were contributed by Darcy and
Huber Selections and Winebow Wines and poured by Paul Darcy. Darcy and Huber Selections focuses on the Vienna region of Austria spear heading their efforts with Austria's field blend, Gemischter Satz. From his portfolio Darcy poured Ambrositsch Gemischter Satz Sommeregg 2008, Christ Bisamberg Alte Reben 2008, Christ Wiener Gemischter Satz 2008, Cobenzl Wiener Satz Classic 2009, Edlmoser Gemischter Satz 2008, Edlmoser Maurerberg Gemischter Satz 2008, Hajszan Gemischter Satz Weissleiten 2008, Rotes Haus Gemischter Satz Nussberg Classic 2009, Rotes Haus Gemischter Satz Nussberg Reserve 2007, Zahel Gemischter Satz 2008, Zahel Nussberg Gemischter Satz Grand Reserve 2007, Zahel Sekt Gemischter Satz and Zahel Schonbrunn Gemischter Satz 2008. From Winebow's portfolio Darcy poured the Wieninger Gemischter Satz 2008 and Wieninger Nussberg Alte Reben 2008.

The event was well attended by bloggers, press and industry folk who enjoyed the walk-around cocktail party that ensued from 4-7.

Gabriella and Ryan Opaz are now headed to Seattle for the second round of the EWBC kick off event before the USWBC that is being held in Walla Walla later this week.

A short video highlighting Catavino's efforts with social media can be viewed here. This video was recorded and produced by Zev Robinson.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guess that Grape Contest (6/17-7/21)

Welcome to the Guess that Grape Contest!

How good are you at identifying Austrian wine varietals? Below you'll find the flavor profiles for four grapes grown in Austria - take a guess! (hint: two are international varieties!)

Think you got it? Leave a comment below with your answer - make sure you include your email address! Correctly identifying all four will earn you a chance to win the Austrian Wine Genesis book, retailed at $90.
The contest will run until July 21st. You will be alerted by email if you've won at that time.

**Special thanks to Weingut Fritsch for providing us with these photos.**

Brand Action Team employees are not allowed to enter.

Featured Food Pairing by Seasonal's Wolfgang Ban

Wolfgang Ban, Chef and Owner from Seasonal Restaurant and Weinbar an Austrian restaurant in New York City, prepared this seasonal BBQ Pork Belly dish and pairs it with a Riesling 08 from Hoegl, in the Wachau region of Austria. Wolfgang has chosen the Hoegl Riesling as a pairing because the high acid of the wine cuts through the fat of the pork belly and the stone fruit character present in the wine is a delicious compliment.

Chef Wolfgang Ban seasons his pickled Heilroom Tomatoes with homegrown “Liebstoekl”, also known as Lovage. He also uses Austrian vinegar, Geenbauer, to give this pork belly dish the necessary acidity. This dish takes two days to prepare, but you still have plenty of time to prepare it for Fourth of July weekend and impress your family and friends with an outstanding dish from an award-winning chef.

Pork Belly

4lb Pork Belly

3g Caraway

1g Garlic

1lb Pork Fat

2 TSP fresh Thyme

For Brine:

4 Cups Water

1 Cup Salt

Put pork belly in oven dish and cover totally with brine for 24hrs in the refrigerator.

After 24hrs empty leftover water and cover pork belly entirely with pork fat and spices. Bake for 3-4 hrs in the oven at 225F till soft.

Cut soft pork belly in squares and grill on the BBQ till perfection.


1/2 lb Small Chanterelle

2 TSP Butter


Wash, dry and cut Chanterelles thin slices. Put butter in a frying pan, add chanterelles and a little salt, and sauté till soft.

Baby Heirloom Tomato

1/2 lb Baby Heirloom Tomato

1 TSP Salt

1 TSP Sugar

1 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 cup of sliced Lovage

Fresh crushed Black Pepper

4 cups water

Wash and cut Heirloom Tomatoes in halves. Mix together spices, water and vinegar, combine with the tomatoes and refrigerate for 48 hrs.

Vinegar Gel

250 ml Gegenbauer P.X. Noble Sauer (available at specialty food shops or Food Emporium in NYC)

5 pieces of Gelatins

1 Cup Water

Put Gelatin in a pot with water and vinegar, stir and bring to boil. Set aside and let cool until it turns into a thick paste. Once cool mix paste until liquefied again and serve with tomatoes, chanterelles and pork belly on the side.