Snowed In: Austria Will Have To Wait, Drinking Austrian Wines in The City

Like everyone else, I’m snowed in. I’m supposed to be on my way to Austria for a ski trip with friends but the airports are closed, flights are canceled and more delays are expected. What to do, blog about Austria wines. Hopefully before the week is over, I will be drinking some in situ.

Over the course of the last two years, I have had the occasion to try many wonderful Austrian wines. The first person who truly introduced these wines to me was Monika Caha. I don’t remember how it came to pass but I worked at a Frederick Wildman tasting with Monika in New York, pouring her wines.

The wines from Stadlmann which Monika brings in were exceptional. Stadlmann’s winemaking dates back seven generations. The winery is located some 20 miles South of Vienna The region is known as Thermenregion. The region is supposed to be among Austria’s warmest with brown soil mixed with sandy loam. Some of the vineyards have 40 year old vines.

I remember meeting the indigenous grape varieties, Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, and being floored. These white wines were at once full bodied and minerally, filled with delicate floral and fruit notes, and a zing on the palate. The Zierfandler has a fascinating combination of acidity and sweet notes. This is because the grape ripens unevenly producing both sugar and acidity. The wine ferments in large wooden barrels. Both wines can age as well. Zierfandler is the signature wine for the Stadlmann family. It can be fermented dry or made in one of the sweeter Pradikatsweine levels such as Auslese or TBA. The Zierfandler Mandel-Hoh was truly memorable.

I order these wines whenever I see this producer on a wine list.These same indigenous varietals apparently were cultivated when the Habsburgs reigned. I’d like to think my great grandparents might have had a glass when they lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Stadlmann also makes very noteworthy Pinot Noir. The wine spends time in large oak barrles for 12 months and has classic pinot noir aromas and flavors including soft berry notes and elegant tannins. I have had the occasion to try these wines in the years since that first meeting and they never disappoint.

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