This is a data file of hints, tips and useful addresses for wine-lovers visiting Austria, and the wine areas around Vienna. It is complied from information supplied by wine-pages visitors. My many thanks to them.
Eating and sleeping
Bryan Collins: I visited Vienna and the surrounding region last summer – my first visit to Austria that didn’t involve mountains and gluhwein – and what a fantastic trip it was. Sadly I could only devote one full day to vinous activities. I had lunch in Unterloiben at Loibnerhof (Tel. 0043-2732-82890), the restaurant owned by Weingut Knoll, who are based in the village. The restaurant is huge, and about half of it is outside in an absolutely lovely apricot orchard. This is the sort of place that tourist coaches pull up at every single day no doubt, but that doesn’t make it any less pretty. The food wasn’t quite up to the level of the location unfortunately, but wasn’t by any means poor. Surprisingly the wine choice was limited and rather unspecific.
A note about restaurants – markups appear to be hugely reasonable. At dinner last night a bottle of Hirtzberger Singerriedel Smaragd (his top Riesling, I believe) was about 30% more than I had paid, retail, in Spitz a couple of days before. If you do find yourself in Vienna in early summer, make certain you like asparagus. It must be high asparagus season or something, as two of the four restaurants we had dinner at had separate asparagus menus! Fortunately I absolutely adore both asparagus and apricots, which I think qualifies one for citizenship…
Odd Ryland: We stayed one night in the Landhaus Bacher in Mautern (+43 2732-82937) which is to be highly recommended, cooking on Michelin * level, veryattentive staff, wonderful porch and fine rooms. We had a fixed meal with some very good 89 Hirtzberger (60 Euros), the wine list is extensive andcovers the range fram 25 – 80 Euro, older wines available too. Seems to be very full though, so booking is advisable. The second night we moved 200 meters down the road and found double rooms at 60 Euro, under half the price at Bachers (they were full, we hadn’t booked in advance), nice, friendly and clean, but obviusly without the class of the Bacher.
We also ate at the Nikolaihof, also in Mautern, and had a wonderful evening under their marvellous linden tree in their courtyard. 250 meters from theBacher, direction north. Christine Saahs herself likes to mingle among her guests. They are completely biodynamic since 72, don’t even have capsuleson their wine corks! We had a set course of local specialities, a little confusing perhaps asclose to 25 different courses appeared throughout the evening. Rustic, biodynamic food of very good quality without Michelin pretensions. Including tasting of 12-15 Nikolaifhof wines – including their top wines – the price was an incredible 50 Euros. You need to be at least 4 persons though. Wine buying no problem, we turned out at 7.30 the next morning and bought the best of what we had tasted the previous evening. Grumpy dog, though.
We also had a very classy lunch at Gaststatte Jamek (12-15 Euros for acourse) in Joching (+43 2715 2235), very nicely situated in their backyardclose to the Jochinger Berg wineyard. On the main street along the Donau.All their wines available for tasting in their wine shop, bought some racyRiesling Weissenkirchen Klaus Smaragd 2001 at 16 Euro (I think). 25 Euroserved with their lunch.
Bryan Collins: Spitz and nearby Weissenkirchen are home to several producers including Hirtzberger, Prager, Jamek and Rudi Pichler. Spitz also boasts a lovely wine merchant right on the banks of the Danube called Fohringer (www.iwb.fohringer.at). The first bottle I saw on entering was a 40 year old Gaja Barbaresco casually sitting on a side table. Half unpacked cases litter the floor, the stairs and any nook and cranny with any space. There is also a tremendous selection of half bottles, from first growth claret, to Ridge from California and various high-end Australians. Naturally enough, the real story is the Austrian selection.
Back in Vienna, finding interesting wine shops was actually not that straightforward. There are a couple of places near Stephansdom – muscling in between the designer boutiques – with prices that you would probably have been able to guess at. The Austrian chain Wein & Co (www.weinco.at) got a bit of a panning from the chap at Fohringer (unsurprisingly maybe!) and it’s true that at first sight you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve popped into a duty free shop. Prices are better than the “posh” shops and selection very good – both Austrian and other. Older vintages of Austrian wines are very hard to find though. The huge plus with Wein & Co is that many of their outlets have wine bars / restuarants attached, which have an absolutely stunning range of wines by the glass. For example, yesterday the blackboard in the central branch listed Châteaux Margaux and Haut Brion, Cos d’Estournel and Vieux-Château-Certan; Burnello di Montalcino from Nardi, Wirra Wirra “Angelus”, and Teofilo Reyes – all at something like 20% above retail. They were also perfectly happy to open a bottle from the shop if asked.
Lastly, anyone passing through Vienna airport take a look at the Riedel shop. Today an example price was four Bordeaux Grand Cru Sommelier glasses for 99 Euros. That’s about £16 each. I can’t find them in the UK for less than £40.
Odd Rydland: I was in Wachau/Kremstal/Kamptal recently. What a lovely areas: beautiful weather, very high-quality cooking. In Mautern, Gasthaus Bacher (Südtiroler Platz 2, Tel: 2732 82937 or 85429) is to be highly recommended, but I also had wonderful meals at Jamek (www.jamekweingut.at) as well as Nikolaihof (www.nikolaihof.at). Fohringer (see above) is an amazing shop – I bought a lot of Riedel and Spiegelau at about half Norwegian price while I was there. Interesting oils too.
Fohringer at Spitz is an amazing shop – a BIG Barolo section, lots of Bordeaux (Cheval Blanc 1985 anyone), white Burgundies from Carillon and MarcColin at not unreasonable prices, I even saw red and white Rayas there – bought a lot of Riedel and Spiegelau stemware at about half Norwegian pricewhile I was there, as well as Nigl and Pichler wines. As I am going to France later this summer, I managed to stay away from their French section.
Things to do
Bryan Collins: Saturday was spent exploring the Danube valley from Melk to Krems – the Wachau region. I was struck by just how small this region is – you could probably drive from Melk to Krems in half an hour, and the vineyards don’t start until you are about 20% of the way along. The main villages along the way are Spitz and Durnstein.
Odd Ryland: I stayed in the Wachau/Kremstal/Kamptal (driving down fromPrague with 3 friends, circa 4 hrs) and got a VERY favourable impression ofthe area. The area is small – about 20 km from the easternmost part ofKamptal (Heileigenstein) to Spitz (Honivogl) in the west of Wachau, but ison par with the Mosel and Alsace, both of which I have visited for a numberof times, for charm. And quality in food and accomodation is very high.Fluent English seems to be spoken nearly everywhere.
We visited and tasted through the complete 2001 ranges at Gobelsburg (a little hardto find to the south of the highway from Langenlois) and Freie Weingartner(now under their new name of Domaine Wachau). Very fine wines in 2001 atboth, very friendly reception and a beatiful terrace at Domaine Wachau justbelow the Durrstein Kellerberg. Brundlmayers Heurige in Langenlois wouldhave been worth a visit, but their opening hours didn’t seem to concidewith our itinerary. At least we were outside it. Next time, maybe.
Reasonable prices everywhere with high quality to be found at 10 – 22Euros, usually around 15-16, with only FX Pichler being substantially moreexpensive.
Mautern would not be my first choice among villages, on thesouthern side of the Donau across from Krems. On flat land, it lack some ofthe charms that places like Durrstein (in whose castle Richard LionHeartwas found by his trusty minstrel, Blondel, nice but steep walk, wonderfulview of Donau) provides, but as distances are small and bicycles seems tobe available for rent nearly everywhere this is no big deal.