My next stop is in the neighboring village of Unterloiben, at the Alzinger winery. Greeting me is another member of the younger generation, Leo Alzinger (and another junior). His grandparents founded the winery in 1925 and sent most of their fruit to local cooperatives until 1985, when they began bottling on their own.
The next morning I am picked up by a young student named Matthias Maschebauer, who will take me to the wineries on my itinerary in the Wachau. He’s a helpful guide because in many instances the wineries have only small signs pointing to their entrances and more than one winery in a small village may carry the same family name.
On my way out of the Burgenland, I stop by the winery and vineyards of Umathum, one of Austria’s best all-around red wine producers. Josef “Pepe” Umathum is articulate and friendly. Like many other producers, he is going biodynamic, which is rooted deeply in Austria given that Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamics, was an Austrian.
After Rust I travel to vineyards on the east side of the lake. The most renowned of these lie around the town of Illmitz, which comprises Austria’s greatest terroir for sweet wines. This is the home turf of the garrulous Alois Kracher, who makes an amazing array of sweeties.
Heading south, I stop first to taste and to tour the Hillinger winery near the small village of Jois. The winery is impressive for its modernistic approach; it appears almost like a cube, two stories set into a small hillside with huge picture windows on the upper floor affording magnificent views of the surrounding vineyards.
My first trip to Austria’s wine regions begins in one of its most unknown corners. And I’m accompanied by a cosmopolitan trio. Not Austrian, but a pair of Portuguese winemakers and Dirk Niepoort of the Port- (and now table wine) making family in the Douro.
Hello. I'm Wine Spectator managing editor Kim Marcus. This is my first blog, and it should be a fascinating excursion given that it will record the observations of my first trip to the wine regions of Austria.
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