Friday, March 15, 2013

50 Wines in 12 hours, a lot? ...

"Oh my God, I'm so wined out," whispers a bleary eyed Claudia to me on the side at 10:45 tonight as rosy cheeked winemaker Franz Netzl opens a bottle of his "Privat" red--the best for last of course. The "Privat" is a blend of only the very best barrels on the property,  intended strictly for family consumption and sealed in an imposing wax. Franz's hands are stained red from the wine thief he's used to pour us samples out of at least five premium barrels in his tasting room earlier in the evening. 

So far we've tasted 15 wines with Franz alone and we started the day at 8:30am. In a way, I can agree with Claudia, but there's another part of me that doesn't want this to end. My taste buds may plead something else soon. But then there's always the biodynamic, organic beer that we picked up from winemaker Werner Michlits at Meinklang in Burgenland earlier today...ah beer, the perfect end to a day of tasting close to 50 wines...

To recap just the highlights of today, we started off the morning sipping glasses of sparkling Muskateller at 8:30 am in the  mountains of Styria with winemaker Gustav Strauss, his gorgeous wife and unbelievably cute platinum blonde sons. (Come to think of it, the children of each winemaker we met today have all been fair haired and adorable...) 

After gawking at the sheer steepness of the slopes, that house, the patch work plots of vines that checker the snow covered Gamlitzberg mountain across from the winery, we made our way three hours to the north through Hungary to the eastern side of the Neusiedler See  (lake) to visit Meinklang winery, a pioneer in biodynamic and organic farming and winemaking practices.  We were fed a lunch of wild goose ragout, which geese winemaker Werner Michlits' father and brother had hunted and which his mother had prepared.  I left glowing and glossy eyed from the sheer passion for biodynamic practices that Werner shared with us (and maybe also from the twelve or so wines we tasted with him).  

Then it was around the lake to Steindorfer winery where mild mannered Ernst Steindorfer shared not only ten of his best wines and dessert wines with us, but then also opened a  private bottle of  1991 Trockenbeerenauslese that would give Chateau d'YQuem a serious run for its money--but for much less money. Seriously, this guy is practically giving away liquid gold!

As darkness set in along with the even more frigid winter air, we arrived at Netzl winery in Carnuntum, an ancient Roman settlement turned wine region. Dinner consisted of Gulasch better than anything my mom ever made (sorry mom) and I was already in food coma heaven. Seriously...best Gulasch of my freaking life. And three hours and 20 wines later here we are. How can I compare any of the wineries we visited today to each other? And yet, it seems we got the best for last once again. Netzl's lineup of premium red is just incredible. I can promise you'll be seeing their single vineyard premium Zweigelt in the near future in Arlington! This is a family that's been making wines for 200 years and has now started passing its legacy on to its winemaker daughter, Christina (whose blonde haired two year old daughter Lena is...ADORABLE!!). 

The down to earth, family-focused, humble, generous and purely passionate winemakers we've met today alone is enough to leave me with a permanent sense of respect and appreciation for what Austria has done with its wine industry. I'm honestly not sure I really want to come home right now. 

~Sonja



Strauss Winery


Handsome Gustav Strauss with his Trockenbeerenauslese wine award, which he was awarded with Tuesday night (delicious!!!!)


Gamlitzer Berg across the street from Strauss winery


1991 TBA


Franz Netzl with his granddaughter Lena


Zweigelt Haidacker (it's a gem!)


Sonja enjoying a glass of Netzl's "Privat"

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