A few days before the end of 2013, I said goodbye to Eisenstadt, the tiny Austrian town that has been my home for most of the year. New adventures in Amsterdam are calling – but this blog isn’t supposed to be autobiographical, so let’s get back to the wine.
Eisenstadt may be small, but it’s culturally important for two reasons. First, the Esterhazy palace housed Joseph Haydn for much of his professional life. Second, it’s the capital of Austria’s most important red wine region, Burgenland. Reason the first means there’s no end to the Haydn-themed outlets here – there’s the Joseph Haydn Music Conservatoire, Haydn Brauerei, at least one Haydn cafe, and – who knows – possibly even a Haydn laundrette and a Haydn kebab shop if you look hard enough.
Reason the second inspired the opening of Selektion Burgenland two years ago. I can’t imagine Eisenstadt without this excellent, friendly and inviting wine bar and shop, regally situated opposite the Esterhazy palace. The wine list is superb, with around 20 regularly changing wines available by the glass, plus an Aladdin’s cave of current and back vintages from pretty much every important Burgenland producer you’ve ever heard of. The staff are charismatic and knowledgeable, and if you linger long enough, you will inevitably end up sharing the room with one if not several local winemakers.
What better place for a send off?
I’ve grown to love Austrian wines from across the country, but especially the super-elegant reds from Burgenland’s Leithaberg DAC sub-region – which conveniently surrounds Eisenstadt. Bläufrankisch is undoubtedly king, although St. Laurent and Pinot Noir are capable of greatness too.
White wines can also be superb here. Burgenland doesn’t have the best terroir for Austria’s ubiquitous Grüner Veltliner, but Chardonnay and Weißburgunder can yield really standout results – and again, the Leithaberg DAC region is deserving of its superior status.
We drank many, many fine bottles over the course of the evening, mostly selected by Tinhof’s young yet hugely knowledgeable winemaker Lukas Plöckinger, and very ably consumed by good friends who I’ll miss dearly.
I didn’t take tasting notes, as I was far too busy enjoying myself. But here are some of the highlights in pictorial form. I will just say one thing. Despite my Blaufränkisch obsession (which is fairly transparent from the selection below) it was the Kollwentz Steinmühle Sauvignon Blanc in this line up that really stole the show.
Very special thanks to Peter Wetzer, Gerald Lautner and all the other staff at Selektion, who kept me entertained (and avoided any risk that I would die of thirst) on numerous occasions during 2013.