Monday, 21 February 2011
Fritz Wieninger - Wines from Vienna
However, there is a ring of forested hills on the northern side of Vienna whose foothills provide suitable growing conditions for grapes.
Historically, most of the wine produced in Vienna was intended to be consumed young and unquestioningly in the city's wine taverns known as heurige - these started off as a cottage industry when on August 17, 1784 Emperor Joseph II granted subjects the right to sell their own produce on a set number days of the year.
Over time, the popularity of heurige has grown to the point where on any summer's eve, the main street of Grinzing, Vienna's heurige district, is lined with tourist coaches of people "doing the heuriger experience".
During my time in Vienna, I went to quite a few heurige where the wines tended to be at best light and crisp. And whilst Vienna still does not produce anything to threaten the superiority of the Wachau (in terms of either quality or price), Fritz Wieninger's wines show a marked step up from basic heurige table wine.
The first wine, a 2010 Grüner Veltliner from the Vienna Hills, was fresh and perfumed; this was followed by a GV from Herrenholz which was richer, but more restrained.
Next came a Riesling from the Vienna Hills which is still not bottled commercially, but had been brought over as an early trade sample - 2010 was not an easy year for much of Austria with late frosts, cool conditions and frequent sporadic rain to contend with.
Moreover, although Vienna gets a double boost of warm southerly air plus a degree or two extra warm from the city itself, this Riesling was still high in acidity and a little underwhelming.
For his final wine, Fritz showed me something a little different and special - from 50 year-old vines in Nussberg, and with 18 months' aging on the lees, this one was impressively rich, creamy and full in a much more old-school fashion and still needs another 6-12 months in bottle to start showing its best.
Very different from Austria's "new-style" wines, which match with modern international cuisine, this would pair well with equally traditional Viennese food, such as meat, a potato salad or even a Wiener schnitzel.
Yields for the 2010 wine (not due for release for some time yet) will be well down due to a wild board running amok through the vineyard - Fritz is still having talks with the local hunters about how to avoid a repeat incident.
Wieninger's wines are distributed in the UK by Noel Young Wines of Cambridge.
Grüner Veltliner, Vienna Hills, 2010, £11.95
Grüner Veltliner, Herrenholz, 2010, £13.50
Riesling, Vienna Hills, 2010, £11.95
Nussberg Alte Reben, 2009, £19.00
Wieninger - http://www.wieninger.at/
Noel Young Wines - http://www.nywines.co.uk/