Burgenland wine county
In the serene villages that ring Lake Neusiedl, centuries-old tradition still sets the pace - but it also makes for a passionate spirit that's increasingly moved to innovate. Not long ago, Thomas Schwarz, the genius behind Purbach's Kloster Am Spitz winery, found himself curious about Syrah. But rather than read about it, he decided to go ahead and make one. As it happened, the Syrah turned out wonderful. But more significant was the attempt, for it bespoke a crucial ethos among Burgenland vintners: do it because you love it.
Elsewhere, winemaking can be a more rigid affair, driven more by numbers than passion. But to set foot in Burgenland is to fall in love with the bucolic serenity, the gentleness of the rolling hills and the alluring beauty of the vast Lake Neusiedl. No surprise, then, that reverence for the terroir becomes second nature.
For every rising star like Schwarz, Burgenland's got a weathered old pro like Ernst Triebaumer, widely associated with the country's "red wine miracle." For three centuries, generations of Triebaumers been working the vineyards around the village of Rust. The cavernous cellar beneath his family's cozy home opens up to reveal prized Welschrieslings, Gelber Muskatellers and of course his famed Blaufränkisch Marientals. You won't be allowed back upstairs until you taste a few, there at his workbench, as Triebaumer himself regales you with old stories.
The pace is slow in the quiet old towns of Burgenland. The way of life here eschews shortcuts for quality, uniformity for individuality. Carefully tended wine is a natural byproduct of this existence, but it's also the perfect thing to enjoy while you're here, strolling the ancient streets, circling the lake and stopping periodically to chat with folks who have centuries of local history to share.
www.triebaumer.com (german only)