It is difficult enough trying to find time to visit each region and spend enough of it to really get to know the producers, varieties and styles. There are so many regions in Europe alone that I am having to compromise in missing so that I can spend enough time in other regions. Further difficulties have come up recently as I have been attempting to get a working-holiday visa for Germany so that I can join such producers as Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in the Mosel and Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen. It’s also important for me to be able to travel in Europe for the remainder of the year. This has meant I have had to return to my local Aliens Authority office in Neuss where a friend lives three times, the most recent time driving back for nine hours to provide fingerprints and my signature. I’m also not so happy with my car so I’m trying to find a mechanic who can have a look at it, but it’s not so easy. Thus I had to cut my Austrian journey short and I didn’t get to visit Burgenland as I planned.
|The “Rotes Tor” (Red Door) entrance to the vineyards above Hirtzberger|
Yet another one of the producers I met at Prowein was Franz Hirtzberger, and like others I was reluctant to taste their wines out of context without first visiting the region and winery. Spitz is at the opposite end of the Wachau region from Krems, and the Hirtzberger family have been involved with wine here for five generations. Owning parcels of fruit in some of the highest quality vineyards above Spitz, the winery produces some of the best white wines in Austria. The vineyards are some of the steepest in the region, and are heavily influenced by the distinct micro-climate of the valley in which they are located. As this is the coolest part of the Wachau the best fruit tends to come from the steepest south-west facing slopes, as they receive more sunlight and therefore ripen better. Unfortunately Franz was not at the winery for our appointment, and his wife was left to look after their son whilst we tasted some of the 2011 wines, so I didn’t get to see the winery. I did drive up into the vineyards after the tasting to come to terms with the Rotes Tor (seen above), and the vineyards below it. The winery produces wines in the three Codex Wachau categories of Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. More than most of the wineries I visited in Niederosterreich, between the quality levels there was a very discernible difference with the Hirtzberger wines. Click here to read my notes from the tasting.
Click here to see more photos from Day Four in Niederosterreich, Austria.