Burgenland is a large region to the east and south-east of Vienna, bordering Hungary, which comprises the sub-regions of Neusiedlersee, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Mittelburgenland, and Südburgenland.
The eastern part of Burgenland, near the Hungarian border, is the hottest part of Austria, and includes the areas around the Neusiedlersee, home to many fine Botrytus dessert wines. (These we list in a separate dessert wines section where I also describe the lake). This is red wine country par excellence - the exceptional Pannonian climate enables very high degrees of ripeness unmatched in most other parts of Austria, making possible big chunky reds - to the east of the Neusiedlersee, Zweigelt dominates, yielding strong, juicy red wines, and fantastic examples of St. Laurent are also produced. Blaufränkisch tends to be grown a little further south, around the southern and south-western shores of the lake, and further south still into Mittelburgenland and Südburgenland. There are also some international red varieties grown, including notably some Syrah, which does very well here.
There are also many many useful whites, especially from around the shores of the Neusiedlersee, with varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Welschriesling, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and the especially interesting Furmint. Conventional wisdom is that the soils on the west bank of the lake are more complex than those on the east; and it's worth understanding the soil profile of the area around Rust, whose 440 hectares of vines (“Rieden”, or Cru-vineyards) follow a 100 year-old classification system. All the vineyards on the western shore of the Neusiedlersee are east-southeast elevation sites facing the Lake. The soils vary, even between close rows, and can be differentiated into different types, taking Rust as the centre. To the north, the soils are loamy, cool and dense - ideal for Blaufränkisch and humid-loving white wine varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc. To the northwest, lime-clay soils have a top-layer of loess, which again is perfect for the native Blaufränkisch. Further towards the west the soils contain increasingly more chalk and are thus better for Burgundian varieties (e.g. Chardonnay). The soils of the vineyards to the southwest have a high portion of minerals, slate and quartz crystals, thus favouring aromatic varieties such as Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Click here to see a map of the vineyards around Rust.
Burgenland is also a great place to spend a holiday. Not only is there the wine to explore, and the delights of Vienna and the Wienerwald close at hand, but the lake itself is a big draw for windsurfers. The eastern shore is populated with low-key tourist facilities, with plenty of great value guest houses and hotels. It's quite flat along the lake edge and cycling is popular. And of course a meal at Josef Lentsch's restaurant"Dankbarkeit" at Podersdorf is to die for.
Last few bottles
This is the white house wine served in Josef's restaurant in Podersdorf. It's not widely available outside the restaurant even in Austria; you can buy it from a handful of local merchants, but typical annual production is only some 6-8000 bottles, and most gets used in the restaurant. It's a blend of 45% Pinot Gris, 30% Neuburger, and 25% Pinot Blanc, and it's fermented in oak - 50% of it spends some time in new barrels, and the other 50% in used barrels. That this is no ordinary house wine should come as no surprise to those of you familiar with Josef's other wines. It's got superb body, works well and flexibly with food - especially freshwater fish - and is built to last a few years. The 2009 vintage of this wine is quite delicious, and it's very well priced. This wine was selected by Oz Clarke for inclusion in the 2012 edition of his "250 Best Wines" guide - weighing in at number 73 out of 250, where the following description appears:-
"Lovely, sultry blend of three fairly full-bodied white grapes, in particular the Neuberger, whose only usual claim to fame is as the source of a few pretty syrupy super-sweet stickies. Here it adds a lush, fat texture, and it’s difficult to tell which grape is contributing most to the flavour. The wine is scented with a pale green blossom, then drenched in peach and pear and honeysuckle syrup but pulled up short of being too indulgent by a greengage and white peach skin rasp like a cat’s tongue on your cheek."
Last few bottles
Last few bottlesRead More...