There is hardly anything more exciting for a wine-geek than meeting the winemaker in person. And I mean no representative of a marketing team but the guy who really is responsible for what’s in your glass. The one with his hands on the vines in the vineyard, the artist in the winery and the mastermind behind all the processes before, in between and after production which influence the quality and character and create the soul of the wine.
Recently I was very lucky to meet Mr. Josef Umathum, the mastermind behind one of Austria’s premium quality wines. He was very kind to take me through the tasting of the line-up presented at the Annual Austrian Wine Tasting. This is an annual trade only event showcasing over 500 Austrian wines from 100 producers (not that you can taste 500 wines in a day – around 50 is more realistic).
The vineyard sites of Umathum are all situated in the region of Burgenland around the banks of Lake Neusiedl, where quality viticulture is flourishing due to the variety of different soils. The two wines which impressed me most at the tasting came from the Unter den Terrassen and Ried Hallebuehl vineyards, on the north and the east banks of the lake. (click on the map to enlarge)
~ TASTING NOTES ~
2011 Hallebühl Zweigelt: 100% Zweigelt. Deep ruby with a tinge of purple, very complex full bodied wine with silky tannins. Ripe dark fruit (cherry, blackberry, plum), hint of smoke and sweet spice. Elegant and well balanced with a long-lasting finish. Excellent wine. Retail prices in Europe vary at €25-40.
Food pairings: venison, lamb, roast beef, calf’s liver.
2012 Unter den Terrassen Pinot Noir: 100% Pinot Noir. Deep garnet, full bodied with fine tannins. Full of red berries (raspberry, strawberry), orange, sweet spice, vanilla, coconut, hint of mint and smoke. Very complex wine with a long finish. Good ageing potential. Retails in Europe at €31-36.
Food pairings: enjoy with duck, pheasant, braised beef and especially with chanterelle mushroom dishes.
If you are interested in purchasing these wines please get in touch and I will be happy to help you source them.
P.S.: If you don’t know me in person you might be wondering about the title of this post and what’s the deal with “homeland”? Well, Austria (Vienna) had been very sweet home for me for over 18 years. And even though I am very happy in London for almost five years now, Austria is a place I will always return to, and not only for family and friends I have left behind but also for the great wine and food. 😉