Further stops included various villages around Neusiedler See, a large marshy, fresh water lake. The eastern bank produces delicious succulent dessert wines either produced by botrytis (like Sauternes) or by freezing the grapes, such as those produced by Donnhoff in Nahe, Germany or Inniskillin on the Niagara Peninsula in Canada.
The lake is the shallowest in Europe measuring only 1.5m at its deepest point. For bird lovers, it is a sanctuary. It also produces some of the most exciting dessert wines in the world. Like Sauternes, mists rise from the lake enveloping the berries and encourage “˜pourriture noble’ which slowly concentrates the grapes. Its northern and western banks mostly produces all types of delicious reds.
The last stop was centred around the more central wine producing regions – the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal.
This is the pinnacle of dry white wine country with the Wachau leading the pack. The Wachau is one of the most beautiful regions in the world reminiscent of Côte Rôtie and the Mosel. Its steep, terraced banks overlook the incredibly picturesque Danube as it slithers around vineyards and villages. Its wines are grand. They are generally the most powerful whites produced in the country and have intensity descriptors – steinfelder (the lightest), federspiel and smaragd (the richest) .
The neighbouring regions of Kremstal and Kamptal are more discreet and this is reflected in their wines which tend to be broader and less edgy and structured than those in the Wachau, but still very delicious.
These are wines worth discovering particularly with the 2009 vintage which we will offer in September, featuring Hirtzberger from the Wachau, Schloss Gobelsburg in the Kamptal and Pittnauer with a selection of his beautiful reds from Burgenland. 2009 is an incredible year in Austria which produced full, fruity, mineral wines with incredible depth and breath.
On the dining front:
Though Wiener Schnitzel can be delicious, Austria has so much more to offer. In this case, it was actually Hungary yet with an Austrian twist. Located in a renovated boathouse on the Hungarian side of Neusiedler See lies Haus im See (“˜House on the Lake’).
Incredibly shabby-chic with a St Tropez or maybe Cap Ferret (Bordeaux) kind of vibe, this has to be one of the most memorable dining experiences I have ever had.
Whisked away in a Venetian water taxi, we found ourselves greeted at the pier by Roland Velich of Moric. His wines are bold, powerful expressions of Bläufrankish which beautifully accompanied the amazing Côte de Boeuf. This is one hidden gem.