Austria Food events

Austrian Wine Summit 2015 - Niederösterreich Gourmet Dinner

Sunday, August 02, 2015Me! In words

Its more than a month since I got back from the Austrian Wine Summit 2015 in Vienna, Austria. Its taken me this long to get a post out simply because I am still processing all of the information and the experience of tasting more than 350 wines across the 4 days I spent there. 

The Austrian Wine Summit is held once every two years and is organized by the Austrian Wine Board (AWMB). The event is spread over 4 days and brings together journalists, wine writers, sommeliers and wine aficionados from multiple countries together. This year, 68 countries were represented by approximately 170 delegates. I was fortunate to be selected among the 6 that attended from India. The Summit was divided into tours and I was part of the Discovery Tour, which is organized for those visiting for the first time. It is a tour that takes you through the entire gamut of Austrian wines, region by region. 

The itinerary was hectic, with each day seeing us in a different region. Wine tastings began quite literally after breakfast, at a picturesque location. We tasted wines at palaces, at a monastery, a bird sanctuary, during a boat ride, at taverns - all of which were brilliantly organized, right down to the tiniest detail and executed to perfection. 

On the blog I am going to showcase two meals - hosted at restaurants, and which were of the sit-down multi-course format. The first such was a dinner at the Hofmeisterei Hitzberger at Wachau. A lovely drive from our hotel in Krems, alongside the Danube River led us to the maroon twin doors of the restaurant. 

Our group of around 30 walked past a softly lit restaurant with its many displays of wine bottles of the region. The exposed brick walls and soft lighting created a calming atmosphere, perfect for those patrons looking for a lingering meal over a glass of wine. Since we were there on another mission, we were taken to a downstairs hall, set up with round tables and individual placings that told us we had an interesting meal to look forward to. 

Hofmeisterei Hirtzberger

The elaborate table settings

Nibbles for the vegetarians at our table - Vegetable Crudites with dips

And Cured Meat with Dips for the rest of us. It was unanimously felt around our table of 10 that portions were quite miniscule. But perhaps that was in anticipation of the rest of the meal. 

This evening we were exploring wines of the Niederösterreich Region of Austria. Here is a note on the wines collated from the extensive material provided to us. It tells the story much better than I could in my own words - Niederösterreich is Austria’s largest quality-wine-growing area. This designation stands for a big variety of different wine styles of international and indigenous grape varieties with Grüner Veltliner covering 44%. There are eight specific wine-growing regions in Niederösterreich, stretching from the Wachau in the west to Carnuntum in the east. These can be divided into three major climatic zones: the Weinviertel in the north, the region along the river Danube, with its adjoining valleys to the west of Vienna, and the warmer Pannonian part in the south-east of Niederösterreich. 

The Weinviertel DAC designation on the label guarantees having a peppery-spiced, fresh style of Veltliner in the wine glass. More powerful wines come under the Weinviertel Reserve designation. The Weinviertel’s wide range of fresh, aromatic white wines, fruit-driven red wines and even dessert wines now bear the Niederösterreich designation of origin. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are the flagship wines of this area with both varieties displaying their regional typicity also in Kremstal DAC, Kamptal DAC and Traisental DAC. In Wagram, the Roter Veltliner has become another regional asset alongside Grüner Veltliner. In Kamptal, are rounded off with specialities like the Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay as well as a select range of elegant red wines.

Both Zweigelt and  Blaufränkisch thrive in Carnuntum and St. Laurent is the speciality in the Thermenregion. Regional white wine specialities Zierfandler and Rotgipfler flourish around the wine town of Gumpoldskirchen, and Pinot Noir as well as modern blends are becoming increasingly important. Hence Niederösterreich offers the diversity in the big land of great wines. 

Our host and the curator of wines for the evening - Peter Schleimer, the Chief Editor of Vinaria

Our first wine for the evening was a 2013 Reisling from the Hitzberger Winery of the Wachau region. I personally felt that this wine went really well with the first course of our meal. 

The vegetarians had Zucchini Flower stuffed with Cheese, lightly batter coated and deep fried. This was served on a bed of fresh salad greens and tomatoes with a light dressing. 

I had the Crayfish with Lentils and Poppy Mayonnaise. The combination of red lentils and fish was superb. It had a slightly tart touch to it, which perhaps flowed down from the green salad. The poppy mayonnaise added a rich accompaniment to the fish without overwhelming
its freshness. The second wine served with the first course was of the Niederösterreich origin and was a Reserve Reisling of 2012. This was from Schloss Gobelsburg, a winery I have had the pleasure of sampling once before. Personally, this wine paired with the first course much better than the earlier one, as it was much lighter and complemented the food well. 

Our second course was the Chilled Cucumber Soup with Smoked Fish. I, for one, have never tried a cucumber and fish combination and was a little skeptical on how this one might turn out. Turns out, that it was quite good. The fish was the Arctic Char, prettily quenelled into the middle of the soup. The soup itself had the distinct taste of fresh cucumber, again, without being overpowering as cucumbers can sometimes get. This one was light and complemented the mildly spiced fish quite well. Each spoonful of the soup with a small bit of the fish from the center made for a lovely course. 

This course was again paired with two wines, the first was a Sauvignon Blanc from the Niederösterreich region. This was  Der Wein Vom Stein from the Ludwig Neumayer Winery. Maybe I needed to grow an appreciation for this one, but it came on too strong for me and did not work at all. The second wine however, A Grüner Veltliner 2013 from the Kremstal DAC and the Mayr Vorspaanh winery was well appreciated. Especially since I was lucky enough to be served a few wine diamonds in my glass. The wine experts around the table told me that this happens when the wine has been handled really well and when the chilling process has been a natural one. 

The next course was common to us all Small Spelt Risotto with Sheep's Milk Ricotta and Zucchini - This was quite interesting as a dish, with the spelt being quite similar to the Indian cooked toor dal in texture. Combined with the chunks of Zucchini and the ricotta for rich texture, it was a really nice interlude before the next course. It also gave us the necessary foil to the two wines that were served along with it. 

First up was a Rotgipler 2013 from the Stadimann winery. The Rotgipler is indigenous to Austria, which is home to the 100 hectares or so of the grape. This is a fruit forward wine. The second wine was from Wagram and is a Roter Veltiner, which is the parent of the Rotgipler. The wine from the Fritz Winery and of 2012 vintage. While the wines were great in themselves, am not too sure they paired well with this course. 

Main course was next and on the table was served the Duck Breast with Celeriac and Grape Ragout with finger shaped potato dumplings. Lovely single portions of Duck fillet with a crisp skin to finish it off. The Grape and Celeriac Ragout provided an interesting medley of tangy and smooth textured on the palate. The potato dumplings were soft and with a pan seared finish. It gave the dish the necessary body. 

To go with this main course was the Zweigelt 2013 from the Carnuntum region from the Grassi winery. The wine was quite tannic, which only increases with each bite of the meat. After the initial few sips and bites, it did become a bit too overwhelming on the palate. The next one was a St Laurent 2012 from the Thermenregion from the Johanneshof Reinisch. This one paired much better and I finished my meal with this one. 

The vegetarians had the White Asparagus stuffed with potatoes and with a sauce, the base of which I am not too sure. While it met the approval of some  at the table, the others did not take to it to well. 

Dessert was a Brioche Dumpling along with an Elderberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream - A lovely dessert to end the meal, with the brioche yielding to the spoon easily and blending amazingly well with the elderberry sauce and the vanilla bean ice cream. Happiness in every bite, especially for someone like me who is not a dessert person. 

There were two dessert wines paired with this. The first was a Reisling 2012 from the Weinrieder winery. The other was a Reisling 2009 from the Steininger Winery, which for its really high sugar content did not work for me at all. But then I am not a dessert/sweet wine person at all. 

And so there you have it - one of the many interesting wine experience in Austria. I have another lovely one I am going to showcase in my next post at a tavern!

You Might Also Like


Contact Form