The Cradle of Austrian Wine Culture
The Wagram is an imposing plateau extending north of the Danube between Feuersbrunn and Stetteldorf. To the south of the Danube are the wine and heurige villages of the Tulln Basin and in the far east is the venerable old wine center of Klosterneuburg.
The Wagram wine region is divided into two distinctive zones and takes in 2,400 ha of vineyards. The Wagram rises to the north of the Danube and runs longitudinally at heights of up to 40 meters. It is the heart of the region. To the south of the Danube are the small wine villages of the Tulln Basin.
The Wagram plateau itself is unique geologically. The loess is up to 20 meters deep here, a perfect place for natural cellars even in times long past and the ideal soil for Grüne Veltliners. The vines can send roots deep into the soil and always be assured of a sufficient supply of water and nutrients. These conditions result in subtly spicy, full-bodied wines that strike the palate with a typical creaminess.
These traits apply not just to Grüne Veltliners but also to Rote Veltliners, which have a long tradition on the Wagram and are lovingly cultivated by local vintners as a rarity. Winemakers are also increasingly realizing the potential for red wines in the region. Along with reds, another Wagram specialty is sweet ice wine (Eiswein in German), a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.
Hospitality is written with a capital H in the small wine villages of the Tulln Basin to the south of the Danube. Here visitors find heurige wine taverns in their original form, which are often open just a few times a year. The tables are covered with delicacies the winemakers produce themselves and the wine flows to the general merriment of all.
- Grüner Veltliner
- Grüner Veltliners run the gamut of quality from light, acidic wines to fully mature premium vintages. The location and yield are decisive determinants of quality. Spicy, peppery wines are preferred or fruit aromas reminiscent of stone fruit.
- Young Rieslings have a charming fruitiness und spice that allows them to mature into grand, complex wines. In these wines, the flavors of stone fruit such as peach, apricot and exotic fruits predominate. The wines are lent a mineral note reminiscent of slate or flint from the terroir in the Wachau, Krems Valley and Kamp Valley in particular. Riesling matures slowly as wine, reaching the pinnacle of its quality as an aged wine with rose-like aromas. A pleasant petroleum note emerges as the wine ages, which is off-putting to some wine drinkers. Grapes infested with noble rot that are left on the vines till late in the season are used for making wines of exceptional quality known in German as Auslese and Beerenauslese.
- Frühroter Veltliner
- These wines attain drinkability quickly and tend to be low in acid and low in alcohol. Most have an herbal bouquet reminiscent of blossoms and bitter almonds.
- Roter Veltliner
- These wines are low in acidity but rich in extracts and aromas (roses, citrus, wild berries, raisins, dried fruit). They have a long storage life and great aging potential. Premium wines often have residual sugar and a discrete and harmonious dryness.
- Young wines are flowery with a zesty acidity; aged wines take on flavors reminiscent of bread and nuts. Wine is aged slowly and top quality is not achieved until it has aged for an extended period in the bottle.
- This grape yields mild wines that mature early and taste slightly of nutmeg. These wines age rapidly if the acidity is too low. Premium wines can have great potential for quality.
- Wines range from immature, thin and grassy in youth to very full-bodied wines when fully mature. There are two basic styles of Chardonnay: the classic style in steel tanks with a pronounced fruit and stimulating acidity and the more usual approach internationally, involving acidity reduction by biological means and barrique aging. The key characteristic of a great Chardonnay is its complexity. This trait can only be achieved in special locations with soils rich in lime. Austria’s best representatives of these complex Chardonnays hail from northern Burgenland and Styria but also from single vineyards in Lower Austria and Vienna.
- Gelber Muskateller
- Creates wines smelling and tasting of nutmeg in varying intensities. If made from insufficiently aged grapes, the wines are low in extract and therefore thin with a pronounced acidity. Muskateller wine is especially suitable as an aperitif and an accompaniment to appetizers.
- Sauvignon Blanc
- This, the most widely grown variety in the world creates wines with a characteristic nose. In wines made from immature grapes it can be grassy. In those made with ripe grapes, a diversity of aromas emerge reminiscent of currants, gooseberries and tropical fruits. As they age, the wines change in character from understated to highly complex. They have great developmental potential in connection with barrique aging and biological acidity reduction. In wines made with extremely ripe grapes, the diverse aromatic nuances recede into the background giving way to a powerful spiciness.
- Blauer Portugieser
- If yields are high, this grape results in neutral and pale red wines that mature rapidly and age prematurely. In good years and with restricted yields Blauer Portugieser grapes can produce powerful red wines rich in extracts.
- Blauer Burgunder
- This is the German name for Pinot Noir. These grapes can produce high-quality, long-lived wines provided the vineyard is ideally situated, ripe grapes are used and the winemaker is skilled at his or her craft. However, this sensitive variety is considered a challenge for winemakers in the vineyard and in the cellar. Not very dark coloring is one characteristic. The typical nose is understated, with a range of aromas extending from strawberry and raspberry to sour cherries and prunes.
- At a young age, this wine is fruity and scratchy with pronounced tannins and a powerful bouquet. As it ages, a good Cabernet Sauvignon acquires discrete toasting flavors, aromas of black currants, often also reminiscent of licorice and green sweet peppers. This variety ripens late so it must be planted in warm locations so the wines do not taste grassy or like green pepper. The wines need more developmental time for the tannin structure to reach maturity. They have to be stored extensively before they reach their peak. The use of small oak barrels is almost obligatory and augments the varietal character.
- Blauer Zweigelt
- Wines from this grape variety are violet-red in color and have powerful tannins. When made with fully mature grapes, these wines are full-bodied and long-lived with sour cherry aromas. High quality wines are also aged in barrique.
- These wines must be made with very ripe grapes and require longer maturation before they exhibit ample fruit and a soft sweetness from extracts along with round, harmonious tannins. Wines made of highly mature grapes can be stored for long periods. If the grapes were unripe, the wine could seem grassy green.