Our first home exchange in Vienna was in Klosterneuburg, a small village north of the city. On a cold Winter's day, we decided to explore the local area instead of going into Vienna for sight seeing, so we went to the place "Where Heaven and Earth Meet". . .the Abbey at Klosterneuburg.
"Where Heaven and Earth Meet" is the motto of Stift Klosterneuburg, the home of Austria's oldest and largest wine estate. For over 900 years the vineyards of Stift Klosterneuburg www.stift-klosterneuburg.athave been under the auspices of the Augustine Monks. Some fifty monks live here and are all responsible for certain duties including that of a Wine Cellar Master.
The monastery of Klosterneuburg is important to the tourism and economy of lower Austria as well as providing various religious duties. This is a vast enterprise, containing three museums: one for the Abbey, another for the amazing jewelry and alter pieces, and of course the wine museum.
The cellar covers four stories and holds thousands of barrels of various sizes along with hundreds of thousands of maturing bottles.
Wine making is very seriously focused here and the cellar operation is as big and sophisticated as you will see anywhere in the world, If I were still studying wine I would be there in a heart beat.
The Wines Of Stift Klosterneuburg
Weissburgunder is known to most Americans as Pinot Blanc. It is a very versatile grape and is characteristically semi-dry. It should taste crisp (like biting in to an apple) and have a hint of earthiness. It's great with salty snacks like chips, crackers, olives and nuts. It also pairs well with smoked fish.
Chardonnay is improving dramatically in Austria. The ones we tasted gave hints of acidity, which is very common with cold climate wines. The wine is rich in flavor, sometimes with a hint of spice. In the USA and Australia, Chardonnay is usually matured in wood. This is rarely done in European Chardonnays. Maturing the wine in stainless steel vs wood, lends a crispness but without the oak and butter that many associate with Chardonnays. White meats and fish are usually the best pairings for Chardonnay.
Gewürztraminer (as the name infers) is usually thought of as a spicy wine. Gewürz is the German word for "herb" or "spice". However, it is not always spicy and the wines can be very versatile. Chicken, smelly cheeses, pates, desserts and spicy Asian foods are all good foods to pair with a Gewürztraminer. The sweetness helps counteract the spiciness of foods.
Grüner Veltliner Hengsberg is (in my opinion) the most important wine in Austria and is produced at Stift Klosterneuburg. One-third of wines made in Austria are from the Grüner Veltliner grape. You can easily get this wine in Europe, but it is less popular, and more difficult to find in the USA.
Total Wine www.totalwine.com has a wonderful web site, which makes selection and delivery fairly painless. I ordered some GV and am having it shipped to family members in California, with the hope they will save some for us to try when we are there! I am really excited, and looking forward to drinking some more of this wine!
Grüner Veltliner lends itself to pairings with the local dishes of Austria, in particular the Schnitzels and fish.
As with any varietal, the quality of Grüner Veltliner can vary, so here is what I look for:
- It should appear almost like a ripe lemon (yellow with a hint of green).
- The bouquet should be like a deep refined freshly picked quality apple, with a hint of honey and orange zest.
- The taste should be silk with a hint of balanced acidity and a slight salty tang with a good after taste.
I would like to see more of you trying Gruner Veltliner and find out for yourself if you like it.
As we will be six hours ahead of the nearest time zone in the USA, we will be celebrating the beginning of 2018 before many of you. So we want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Healthy and Happy New Year! We hope to be toasting the New Year with champagne while overlooking Vienna's fireworks from the rooftop of our home-away-from-home.
Vienna is beautiful! HomeExchange is wonderful! Life is good!