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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Feiler-Artinger's Dessert Wines‏

My introduction to Austrian dessert wines came at a restaurant in Vienna many years ago after a friend had recommended I try the Meinl am Graben restaurant located in the upmarket Julius Meinl food store on Vienna's central Graben.

The food and service in the restaurant, and likewise the decor, was smart, distinctly modern and sophisticated but with an eye to tradition.

I would go on to have many superb meals, and wines, there, but on this first evening, looking down the floodlit Graben at the gilded Plague Monument, as ordered dessert I asked for a Tokaji to go with it. "Would you like an Austrian dessert wine ?" the waitress asked.

Naively, I queried "Does Austria make dessert wines ?". With superbly good grace, she let me off with a mock-severe face and said "I bring you an Austrian dessert wine", returning with a choice of three bottles.

I forget how we decided which one to try, but I do remember it was a Feiler-Artinger Ruster Ausbruch, a liltingly poetic mouthful of a name.

Ruster Ausbruch is a sweet wine from Rust, a picturesque historic village full of storks' nests on the edge of the Pannonian plain and next to the shallow Lake Neusidl which forms part of the border with Hungary.

Here, warm southerly air helps create the damp, humid conditions in which the botrytis fungus thrives before the sun burns off the morning mist to provide ripeness to the grapes, as the picture below shows.

The Ausbruch tag, unique to this part of Austria, means the sweetness level is between Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.

The wine itself was a revelation - mouthfillingly unctuous and deeply complex with rich, marmaladey fruit and a refreshing structural acidity and finesse, it is superb.

I got a chance to sample it once more at the Annual Tasting of Austrian Wines in London recently and was impressed all over again.

UK importer Clark Foyster Wines had brought along three stickies from Feiler-Artinger and, after this one, I also sampled a Pinot Cuvee made with Pinots Blanc and Gris in the mix.

This was lighter and fresher in style than the previous wine, but equally complex, long and with impressive finesse.

Finally, and somewhat in the wrong order, I tried the Beerenauslese, one grade of sweetness down from the previous two. This felt like the little brother of the Ausbruchs or, as I noted down at the time, the same wine but with the volume turned down just a little.

The Wines

Feiler-Artinger Beerenauslese 2009, 10%, Burgenland
Feiler-Artinger Ruster Ausbruch, 2007, 11%, Burgenland
Feiler-Artinger Ruster Ausbruch Pinot Cuvee, 2007,11%, Burgenland


Feiler-Artinger - http://www.feiler-artinger.at/

Clark Foyster Wines - http://www.clarkfoysterwines.co.uk/

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