The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 94 of 148

94 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 { austria } REDISCOVERING ONE OF AUSTRIA'S NOBLEST GRAPE VARIETIES by Cliff Rames the Gumpoldskirchen district of the wine-growing region Thermenregion just south of Vienna, Austria, a set of rail- road tracks suddenly disappears under a small hill—more a mound than a mountain—only to re-emerge again about 500 feet later. There seems no apparent reason for the tunnel to exist in the undulating, vineyard-carpeted terrain, other than to prove that it can. Just beyond the tunnel, Mandel-Höh vineyard fans out in southeast-facing rows, more in deference to than in defiance of the quirks of the landscape. While many vineyards throughout Austria have been replanted to the popular and profitable Grüner Veltliner, Mandel-Höh endures as the historical and spiritual home of Zierfandler, the Grand Cru for one of Austria's most celebrated yet obscure indigenous grape varieties. Zeitgeist for Zierfandler Zierfandler grapes before harvest, when the berries take on a distinctive blush-colored hue. PHOTO: COURTESY OF WEINGUT STADLMANN Mandel-Höh vineyard, the ancestral and spiritual home of Zierfandler. PHOTO: AWMB/WEINGUT STADLMANN in

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