Austria Research Trip

by Jonathan Fletcher

We were invited by one of our excellent suppliers, Astrum Wine Cellars, to visit vineyards and wineries in Austria – so naturally we accepted!

On arriving, we were met by Michael Reinisch, one of the three brothers of Johanneshof Reinisch, who whisked us to the small town of Gumpoldskirchen, just south of Vienna. We visited a wine museum, which housed a selection of ancient wine-making equipment, and fascinating wine history of the area – dating back beyond Roman times. Michael escorted us on a tour of the Johanneshof Reinisch vineyard ‘Spiegel’, a vines planted on land owned by monks from the nearby monastery. The slopes of Spiegel are protected by a hill range, and forest, and the fertile ground is perfect for the spicy, fragrant Rotgipfler grape (only grown in 0.2% of Austria’s vineyards).

On to the winery! A purpose-built building, after the family outgrew their original winery. Cellars made from reclaimed Viennese bricks, house barrels of Rotgipfler, Zierfandler and St Laurent; as well as Burgundian varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Stainless steel vats, and clay amphora are also used for a selection of their wines. We tasted through a range of Johanneshof Reinisch wines, including some beautiful older vintages – demonstrating their ageing potential. The estate wines are balanced, aromatic and approachable – and the single vineyard wines complex, nuanced, and elegant. After our tasting, we visited Tattendorf, home of the Johanneshof Reinisch‘s ‘Steinfeld’ vineyard, which lies on flat, open, windswept land, formerly a riverbed. Here, the limestone and gravelly stone soils are optimal for St Laurent and Burgundian varietals.

The following morning, after a trip to a Beethoven Museum in the spa town of Baden, we met Markus Huber of Huber Wines, who led us through a tasting of his wines from the Traisental Valley. Wines from this region are on the same latitude as Beaune, and the area is blessed with cool nights and warm days. Huber‘s wines primarily showcase Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. Markus spoke with great insight about the complex geology of the area, and how the varying soils affect the wines. Aromatic, perfumed, and with great precision, his wines a delight to savour.

We enjoyed a guided tour of historic Vienna, before finishing the trip with a subterranean tasting at Haas & Hass Wein & Fein, where we sampled local Viennese wines, Zweigelt, and the field blend Gemischter Satz.

Back to Blighty, inspired and eager to champion Austrian wines!