This area on the eastern shore of the vast, shallow Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl) is known, in part, for Pradiktswein production, making wines that range from sweet and fruity Spätlesen and Auslesen to noble Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen. But of greater interest to us, among these 7,850 hectares of vineyards, are some of Austria’s greatest red wines being made from the indigenous varieties of Blaufränkisch, St Laurent and Zweigelt by one man: 2014 Winemaker of the Year, Gerhard Pittnauer.
Rosi Schuster is a Burgentland-based family estate focusing on the indigenous Austrian red grapes Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch, as well as Rotburger. Winemaker Hannes Schuster farms the vineyards organically and pursues small yields of exceptional fruit. Musts are fermented gently in wooden or stainless steel open-top fermenters, with both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation taking place spontaneously.
For more than a decade, winemaker Roland Velich made an intense study of the world's greatest wines of terroir with the explicit goal of finding “that thing”, as he puts it, that a wine must possess in order to achieve greatness. When he felt he'd learned enough, he set out to make an Austrian red wine that belonged in the same pantheon as the great Grand Cru Burgundies, the Northern Rhône and the legendary vineyards of Barolo. So began the Moric project. Its medium is Blaufränkisch, expressed through ancient vines in a challenging growing region, meticulous biodynamic viticulture, obsessive sorting and fairly primitive winemaking techniques. The Burgenland Blaufränkisch is a brilliant starting point, while this beguiling variety reaches its zenith in the old-vine wines from Lutzmannsburg and Neckenmarkt.
It's 20-odd years since Gerhard and Brigitte Pittnauer took over the winery in Gols near Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, bordering Hungary at the eastern edge of Austria. Over that time they've pushed the boundaries of Austrian red winemaking, in particular with St Laurent and Zweigelt. In 2001 the construction of the fittingly striking production hall in the middle of the vineyards allowed for a quantum jump in quality and quantity.