‘Taste Culture’: Arriving in Vienna

Vincent Brundlmayer Heiligenstein vineyard pic
On arriving into Vienna some 27 hours since leaving Tullamarine we found the CAT train which whizzed us in ultra-smooth and very quick fashion. There was time for a swift check-in, shower and email download before it was time to meet in the hotel bar with the rest of the visiting Australian contingent. After a well appreciated local beer we set off on what was a delightful 30 minute walk across central Vienna, though a thriving with tourism Stephansplatz square and on to our spot for dinner – a very cute and slightly grungy, for Austria at least ‘Badeschiff’, which believe it or not is a converted transport ship that is now moored on the Danube canal and serves as a restaurant, bar, deck and swimming pool. An informal get-together for guests of Austrian Wine Marketing this was a fun night, with a lengthy but casually served degustation menu of classic and modern interpretations of Austrian dishes, most notably a spicy Asian-flavored soup called Holy Moly, and a dish called Beuschel that consisted of heat and lung slivers from young veal – sounds horrid but was fabulous. Wine highlights included a Weingut Markus Huber Erste Lage Berg Grüner Veltliner 2011 from Traisental which is superbly balanced, textural and flavorsome, and much to my delight the 2010 Bründlmayer Heiligenstein Lyra Riesling, which was wonderfully taught, mineral and complex. Good thing a tiny amount of this wine has just landed in Australia!
Day 1 at Vie Vinum started with a tasting of the ‘top 182 red wines from the outstanding 2009 vintage’. Needless to say we got nowhere near tasting all the wines, but there were a couple of pretty interesting Pinots, even more so Saint Laurent wines, a definitely more and more fine, mineral, terroir-driven Blaufränkisch wines are emerging. Tasting notes to follow.
Later we visited the History Museum, and had a private viewing of a still being installed exhibition covering the history of wine – the philosophising, growing, making and drinking of it through the centuries. Totally fascinating. A favourite was this ‘drinking game chair’ from the 17th century. When you sit in it clamps spring out trapping your arms and legs; you then had to drink from the vessel, and take the whole serve in one go. Failure to do so would mean you’d get another to drink. And so forth. Clearly, the fun aspect of wine was discovered very early on!