Day 4: Austrian Wine Summit 2009

Our fabulous fourth day in Austria began with a sparkling wine reception at and a short visit to the Loisium Wine Museum, located at the start of the Kamptal Valley in the village of Langenlois, which is Lower Austria’s largest wine growing community. The museum is amazing and provides visitors with highly unique ways to explore the world of wine. We enjoyed an eye-popping tour of the cellar, which displayed the past histories, present days, and future plans of Lower Austrian viniculture. It was a surprising departure from a traditional museum experience and more on the wavelength of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

The sparkling wine we drank during the reception was a Sauvignon Blanc from the family-run Weingut Steininger, also of Langenlois. The strength of this winery is Grüner Veltliner, but they are also well know for their tasty sparkling wines, which are produced according to the traditional bottle fermenting method.

The visually-dazzling Loisium Wine Museum

Another view of the superbly-designed Loisium Wine Museum

After our museum visit we took a trip to the winery Domäne Wachau located in Dürnstein in the heart of the Wachau Valley. It is the biggest winery in the Wachau, an area where wine has been cultivated for centures. The Wachau has also been named a World Cultural Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Once at the winery we enjoyed a seminar and wine tasting entitled “Great Single Vineyards of the Wachau,” presented by the winery’s Managing Director, Roman Horvath. I especially enjoyed the sweet-tasting 2007 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd by Weingut F.X. Pichler, which per Roman sold-out immediately, and the green-apple-esque 2008 Riesling by Weingut Tegernseerhof.

In the Wachau, the wine categories of Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are used respectively for light, medium and full-bodied wines with natural alcohol.

I’m getting ready to taste a white wine

That’s a bouquet of Steinfeder in bloom, with Roman Horvath in the background

After the seminar we split into two groups and I went with the group headed for a short walk through the single vineyard Singerriedel, which provided us with quite likely the best views of the entire trip. This vineyard is located on the steep side of a mountain. I imagine working in that environment is challenging, but the rewards are obviously great in terms of views and of course, the end-product of a good wine.

Vineyard views

Smiling at Austria’s natural beauty as the Danube flows by quietly

After the vineyard walk we took a charming and picturesque boat ride along the Danube, from Spitz to Dürnstein. Along the way we tasted Federspiel wines from Weingut Sigl, Weingut Lagler, Weingut Knoll, and Weingut Jäger.

My favorite wine on the ride was the 2008 Riesling Loibenberg Federspiel by Weingut Knoll. It is light and delicious, with a cotton, velvet feel; a very fine, straight white wine.

One of the pretty views from the Danube

The wines tasted during the trip

After the boat ride many of us thought the trip couldn’t get any better, but we were pleasantly proven wrong. We stopped for lunch at the Restaurant Jamek, of the Weingut Jamek, which is located in Joching. Lunch featured more delightful wines from the Wachau, with my number one pick being Weingut Jamek’s own 2008 Gelber Muskateller Federspiel. Peaches, roses, images of elegant ladies decorated in lace. I love this wine and I love this grape! My table even tried to get our server to leave the bottle with us!

Wines tasted at Restaurant Jamek

Enjoying our lunch at Restaurant Jamek

Immediately after lunch, we took a group picture. I traveled with a great group of people.

After lunch we boarded the buses for our trip back to where it all began, Vienna. After checking into the Hotel Falkensteiner Palace we had about an hour to rest, then prepare and primp for the “Party in the Park – Baroque Meets Jazz” at the Schönbrunn Palace‘s Gloriette, which is a monument on the grounds of the palace. We arrived around 7 pm and left when the clock struck midnight.

The party featured food by Chef Karl Malafa, wines from the Danube regions & Burgenland, classic strings by “Wiener Melange Quartet” and live Jazz with Jazzklusiv. My personal highlights of the evening including dancing a Viennese Waltz in Vienna, the overall beauty and magnificance of the grounds, and singing Beatles songs with Willi Klinger of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, who surprised and delighted us all by entertaining us on piano.

The Gloriette

The palace as seen from the Gloriette

Willi Klinger, Piano Man

Day 5 of the Austrian Wine Summit 2009 was for me simply a long day of travel back to my hometown in Connecticut. It took no less than one subway, one train, one plane, another train, another subway, a bus, and a car to get home. Not that I’m complaining. This trip was well worth any exhaustion incurred.

I know some in the group we able to stay later on Sunday and enjoy a “Brunch in the Sky” at the Restaurant Ellipse in Kahlenberg. The picture below leads me to believe they had a lovely time there as well.

I would like to sincerely thank the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, which includes their entire staff, the participating wineries and facilities, and all those involved in Wine Summit 2009 for a truly spectacular, fun, and educational trip. You were all the best hosts any guest could ask for. You spoiled us rotten. Thank you, again.

Cheers!

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