Clark Foyster Austria Trip 2015
August 26th, 2015 by
A visual snippet from the CF trip to Austria earlier this Summer – tasting, lunching, vineyard frolics and lots of fun.
After an early start at Heathrow and arrival into a Sunny Vienna, stop number one was at Manfred and Renate Felsner’s. Time to stretch our legs with a hike up a vineyard before an idyllic tasting and lunch under the shade of parasols. Whites were the focus here – spicy Grüners and zesty Rieslings- and our first schnitzel of the trip, homemade and delicious, with a particularly peppery herb salad I seem to remember.
Moving swiftly along from Kremstal into the Wachau, to visit the famous Hirtzberger Family – son and winemaker, Franz, greeted us at the winery door and off we hiked – again – up a very steep hill in what felt like a 40 degree heat – to the prized Singerriedel vineyard… Seamus Sharkey of Restaurant Story putting us all to shame sprinting up those amazingly steep slopes! Look at that view, no wonder the wines made here, exuding their beautiful origins, are amongst the very finest of Austria!
A tour of the winery and impressive wine library, and then into Hirtzberger’s swish tasting room to sample a world-class line up… Lance concentrating below against a backdrop of golden holiness.
From the Wachau we moved to Kamptal, to the last visit of the day at the iconic Schloss Gobelsburg Estate where owner and winemaker, Michael Moosbrugger, showed us around his winery cellar which brimmed with monastic history. We tasted through the range, including our first reds of the trip, upstairs in a rather fancy function room, captivated by Michael’s detailed approach and explanations.
And what a joy not to have to rush away from the Gobelsburg paradise that evening! Dinner al fresco in their fairytale gardens, looked after by Michael (shown below) and his charming wife, Eva. Many courses; many wines! Older single vineyard wines flowing freely made for quite the evening. Riesling Gaisberg Alte Reben 97 sticks in my mind… as well as a magical moon shining above! So beautiful.
Bright and early the next morning we were back in Kremstal, out exploring the vineyards of Rainer Wess and Stadt Krems. The smart and newly refurbished Stadt Krems winery was a super spot to sit down and taste through their wines. Fantastically ripe, spicy and energetic – Austrian whites in all their glory. Followed, of course, by more yummy schnitzel and traditional potato salad.
Before we knew it we were back on the bus and driving South to Burgenland. Our first stop in red wine country was at boutique winery – Moric – to get a feel for his internationally renowned Blaufränkisch Project. Tasting from barrel in the winery and a visit to the Lutzmannsburg plateau, looking across the blustery vineyard plane towards Hungary. Winemaker, Roland Velich, in the middle below in the blue shirt.
Our last visit that day was to Weingut Prieler, to meet the jovial Georg Prieler and his deep, fine Blaufränkisch wines and intense, weighty Pinot Blancs. A wine tasting at the family home soon turned into dinner at the region’s smart restaurant, Gut Purbach. An evening to remember with winemakers Georg Prieler and Kurt Feiler from Feiler-Artinger supplying plenty fun and amusement… and then there was the menu…
A fantastic, spicy fish soup was followed by horse and then… a bit more horse – all the horse! Horse steak, horse heart, horse testicles, presented very delicately as you can see below… Safe to say they like their horse in Austria!
It was the world-renowned sweet wines of Feiler-Artinger for breakfast the next morning, sat outside in the winery’s sunny garden in the town of Rust, surrounded by wonderful storks nesting on the rooftops above. Sat there with some delicious home-made pastries and some 1989 Soltaire Blaufränkisch, life was just wonderful.
From Rust we took a boat across the shallow Lake Neusiedl to meet Helmut Lang at Illmitz. Looking good below, guys – Alvis (Chitern Firehouse) rocking his tank-top, Seamus (Restaurant Story) looking the part in his Wines of Austria cap, and Peter (Spring) looking very smart as usual. Thanks too, Peter, for your great photos, some of which made it onto this post.
Helmut, seen below in the black T shirt, drove us around in his authentic pick-up, through his dry, sandy vineyards of Pinot Noir on the banks of the Lake to a beautiful, shady spot shown below for a buffet lunch and a tasting of his prized Eisweins, BAs and TBAs. Hard to imagine in the Summer heat that day, that making Eiswein – and as good as his – was even possible!
Quite spoilt, we were delivered from the care of one winemaker to the next, and Josef Umathum collected us and took us to visit his vineyard terraces and taste his refreshing Blaufränkisch rosé under the mulberry trees amongst the vines. That evening it was a blind tasting which proved quite the test – flight after flight of Austrian varietals: Harszlevelu – Lindenblattriger, Traminer, Gelber & Roter… his Pinot Noir 2001 and Zweigelt Ried Hallebuhl 2007 amongst the top picks of the evening – which ended with a relaxing BBQ in the winery gardens (before the local pub…)
The final morning: breaksfast fizz with birthday girl Brigitte Pittnauer, sipping Gerhard Pittnauer’s most recent creation in their sunny vineyards. Quite simply living the dream.
At Weingut Pittnauer, our last stop of the trip, we got a feel for the practices of biodynamic winemaking, tasting some of the best St Laurents in Austria from cask along with the components of his soon-to-be-unveiled oxidative white, “Mash Pitt”… watch out Vault Tastings!
And then, that was it, back off to Vienna airport.
Breakfast in Burgenland – a final, concluding drink in South Kensington for some – and dinner back home. Quite the adventure.