Meierei im Stadtpark: the dairy queen of Vienna

Meierei is one of the best restaurants in the Austrian capital. Serving Viennese food with an aerated contemporary touch, the meal im Stadtpark staged on the urban green carpet sustains the country’s best beekeepers, growers, farmers and fisherman. The location could not have been better. As the more casual sister of Vienna’s lauded two Michelin star restaurant Steirereck just next door, Meierei sources the ingredients from the same sustainable farm owned by the Reitbauer Family in Styria and from growers of rare edibles, sustainable fishermen and wild hunters in Austria. Unusual herbs are grown on its city rooftop for handy use in both Viennese kitchens. Not everything is local though as the lavish pan-European cheese cabinet displaying its delectable jewels tempts all who step in. Ordering some of this top quality, small production dairy fantasy is a must here if just a few bites.  

Meierei Am Stadtpark ViennaGourmet cheese flightsEuropean cheese

Starting with cheese or a glass of milk

Meierei is a milk bar for the grownups. Milk in all forms – frozen, soured, whipped, in cheese and butter – is the essence of its culinary concept. The book of pleasure at Meierei literally gushes with dairy sins. A deeply veined aged cheese paste was photographed for the cheese menu hanging on a glass bottle of powdered milk on your table. Inside inviting you to taste either a raw cheese selection from Austria or France, to embark on a European cheese odyssey or a thematic journey through cow’s, goat or sheep cheeses and last but not least your own selection of six or nine personal coups de coeur. Some tables started with the cheese, because – why not? There are not many restaurants or cafes offering such a broad dairy indulgence as Meierei. In fact, the first time I came alone, and got my cheese packed in a recyclable wooden tray.

Austrian cheesecheese bar at Meierei

The cheese expert genuinely and patiently explained my zillions of questions, served the morsels with their provenance and numbered info tags (in German) inside the box. Toasted Austrian pumpkin seeds and house jams accompany the dairy hedonism. I carried the treasures in on one of these wired cloth hangers you get at dry cleaners, a smart tool! Enjoying the local (five Austrian and a blue Swiss) bounty later in my cosy hotel bed. The Austrian pear washed cows wheel with red rind was my favourite. Not too strong, neither weak.

Austrian butterAustrian cheese

There are more than 140 selections, so each visit, a new discovery was made. The goat Ziegenfrisch Kaserolle from Niederosterreich and Edwin’s Chevrette from Vorarlberg, and Vorarlberger Bergkase, 15 months aged mountain cow’s cheese, were outstanding. When eating in, organic bread made solely from Austrian grains by the family-run Ströck bakery is served with each meal. A basket of dark and plain white bread for 2.50 (“Gedeck” = cover charge) arrives with a knob of ravishing house butter. The white sourdough is exquisite, big holes sign the bubbles of fermentation, while the dark wholegrain is dense, deep and chalky dusty. I cannot stop knifing through that naughty slab of butter as I generously spread it over the moist bread with a springy crust, like my grandmother’s. For obvious reasons, Meierei is not an ideal eatery for the gluten and dairy intolerant or staunch dieters. I dare to indulge here wholesomely and without guilt since cheese, meat and fish are not my everyday staples. When I eat meat out though, I select meticulously, choosing naturally grazed, humanely raised and ethically butchered flesh. Same with fish, lower in the food chain, going for the lesser known species so not to burden the overfished stocks. Here they care.

The five-course wake-up call arrives as Stadtpark Frühstuck, a generous afternoon tea like affair but for breakfast. Three-level tray holds savoury and sweet starters like green apple and peach bircher muesli with house strawberry jam, but also fruit like stewed apricots with edible flowers, hazelnuts and cream. Trendy avocado is simply sliced, salted and served with black olives and sourdough toast. Even the locally focused Meierei succumbed to its buttery creaminess with the good fat. Superfoods like flax seeds, quinoa and tiger nuts fly into the menu’s vocabulary as well. Next to all that warm eggs how you want them – Benedict with courgettes for me and a side of cream cheese rolled in a slice of courgette with toasted almonds and fresh garden herbs. My husband had a simple cheese omelette with herbs and a side (large for one person, beware) of Würzelspeck. Fresh orange juice for the the old schoolers, while Viennese cafe melange, the local cappuccino-rich coffee with milk foam, or locally roasted espresso for a caffeinated start. My childhood appetite was awakened when on the menu I spotted sour buttermilk, the white dense mud of white bacterial rollercoaster that is good for you. By far the best buttermilk I have ever had, and I had quite a few. You can order it like many other breakfast items a la carte.
CauliflowerAustrian lake fish
For lunch or dinner a la carte house staples aways on the menu include a Beef Consommé with semolina dumplings, boiled short ribs and carrots; the raw Beef Tatare with avocado, mustard seed, black garlic and sourdough, milk-fed veal Wiener Schnitzel with a side endive and potato salad or new potatoes and the Steirereck Kaiserschmarr’n with plum compote. Vegetarian options are sparsely included, but vegans might have it tough here what is essentially a gourmet milk bar. Once I had a superb whole boiled Cauliflower with crispy buttered breadcrumbs, creamy mayonnaise like a sesame sauce, salted lemon verbena and pea shoots. The boiled head of cauliflower was soft, crispy, perfectly balanced with the chef’s chosen ingredients. Seasonal diversions like a Herb salad with crispy deep fried polenta cubes, white sesame seeds, sweet potatoes in their skins and shaved turnips in a sweet dressing were also superb to start with for an entirely vegetarian meal.
seasonal greensschnitzel

Tasting menu at Meierei im Stadtpark

If your taste buds crave more than the perfect Wiener schnitzel entrust yourself in generous seasonal meal from the Austrian farms, gardens, pastures, and rivers in the four or five course degustation at Meierei. Mushrooms with local summer veggies and poached egg, lake Poached Char or trout, superb Duck confit breaded into cubes and fresh dairy, mingle with meat (I had wild Venison Ragout with wild broccoli, preserved lemon and verbena) and local wild sweet water fish – catfish, reinanke (soft white fish from Attersee), sturgeon. You can mix and match how you desire, including cheese. For dessert I had compote-sweet Marinated red berries with superb Fragrant Roses and coconut water sorbet and flower petals, just perfect for hot July. The portions were large for a tasting menu though, be ready.

Austrian lake fishseasonal dessert

A la carte the sweet Austrian dumplings filled with seasonal bounty like apricots in summer are a must.

In their boutique you can buy house marmalade or Styrian honey from beekeeper Johannes Gruberwhere whose vintages are compared from year to year like wine is served and sold in jars. He maintains that: “In the honey, the bees reflect the landscapes they live in, all within a radius of four kilometres. It could be compared to a Grand Cru from Burgundy, where the wine grown in a few hectares characterises its region.“ Priced accordingly, tasting sublimely.
Meierei milk bar

The restaurant is enviably placed inside the Vienna’s central Stadtpark encircled by Schubert Rink, the Wien Mitte train station and cut through a Wienerfluss canal popular with runners, strollers and lovers lounging on its benches. The smart casual feel of the light-filled, white tablecloth dressed contemporary interior opens out to the outdoor seating. Further, Meierei aligned itself with the outdoor lifestyle of cosmopolitan youth that jovially toasts beer and wine glasses in groups while standing or leaning against the walkway railing. Attached are convenient side tables to nurse a snack, small cheese plate or glass. Sparkling “sekt” by Gobelsburg is steel dry as is the French grower champagne served also by the glass. The tasting menu can be paired with wine, and we tried the sommelier’s concoctions with vinous pleasure. The likes of natural Austrian wine from Tschida or Welsh Riesling by Jasdi and Csopak next door from Hungary were joined by superb Grüner Veltliner by Setzer in Vienna and light-bodied red Jura “Vin de France” by Ganevat family. The wine list is mostly Austrian splitting it with Italy, Slovenia and France, but water (still and sparkling) comes from the Alps bottled by Vöslauer.

Meierei im Stadtpark

Viennese Cuisine is served with integrity at Meierei purely from Austrian produce. This milk bar cum cheese heaven is perfect for indulgence while paying respect to nature in the capital city where tap water is piped in directly from the Alps and wind-power generators wave a welcome and “auf wiedersehen” as you take off. I will be back not for the schnitzel but the natural spirit the prevails in Austria.

 Am Heumarkt 2a, im Stadtpark, A-1030 Wien
+43 (1) 713 31 68
 Mo-Fr 11:30am – 11pm; Sat-Sun 9:00 am – 7pm; Breakfast till 12noon
Closed on public holidays


Tian Vienna: vegetarian gastronomy with naturalistic wine pairing to match the best plant-cuisine in Europe

Tian is the model of success for the vegetarian gastronomy not just in Vienna, but for all Europe. The chef de cuisine Paul Ivić, winner of the Trophée Gourmet À la Carte, deserves more than one Michelin star. His exquisite, plant-centric, tasting menus star seasonal vegetables in inventive, beautifully presented contemporary plates. Non-vegetarians also often dine at Tian since the superb gourmet experience balances their lifestyle. Doctors and research agree that less animal protein in our diet is beneficial to all. An increased conscience is a bonus. Austrians are now open to eschew fish and meat once in a while.

Michelin star vegetarian restaurant Tian Vienna

German Riesling Graacher Himmelreich

The eclectic interior radiates Viennese grandeur with contemporary nuances. An ornamental stuccoed high ceiling with oval mirrors were jazzed up with rustic chandeliers and green plants hanging on the walls. The street-level dining room shines through its refreshing 19th century elegance. In contrast, the bar with tables and more private seating bellow the ground feels more clubby.

For a dry night out Tian offers non-alcoholic beverage pairing

Healthful purists will not miss anything by skipping the non-alcoholic beverage pairing at Tian, and sip along the bottled water from nearby Austrian Alps. I do not advise the non-alcoholic tasting ‘Tian Refresh”. Most of the blends are too sweet and rather spoil than enhance the dishes. Earth of verjus with verbena or Shrub from pomegranate and sitherwood sound exotic, but water paired better. With each new course, my mocktails had accumulated on the table. Despite my Asian jet lag I sipped from my husband’s glasses of wine. I was pleased not to miss the wonderful red Styrian Ex Vero 2008 vintage by Werlitsch.
detox diningdetox

Wine pairing experience at Tian

If you like wine, ready yourself for a palate opening tasting. Savouring the water of the gods at its purest, the organic, demeter (biodynamic certification in Europe) or natural wines promoting sommelier will introduce some quirky vinous bottlings.

Tian offers two wine pairing options. My adventurous soul is the suitor of the unknown, so I went for “Experience Wine“. With each course or you can opt for a new glass or with every other course if you want to guard your daily allowance. Liquid pleasures from more adventurous, small producers such as Alexandre Bain from the Loire or surprises like the old clones of Furmint and Harslevelu blend by a Hungarian Attila Homonna excited us.The later was made dry not sweet like the typical Tokaj, fermented and aged in used large barrels. This wonderful wine naturally expressed its salty mineral and lively, dry, sherry-like acidity of the volcanic soil in which it was grown. No chemical spray dripped on the vines.

Tenerife wineSavagnin Blanc from Juraindigenous Hungarian varietal blend

Another highlight was the white blend Joiser Reben made for Tian by Markus Altenburger in Neusiedlersee southeast of Vienna. Classic Wiener gemischter Satz by Uhler winery in Vienna was as easily drinkable as is typical for these simple local blends, but organic. The 2013 red Trenzado, Suertes del Marques from the volcanic Tenerife island in Spain is my longtime favourite.
The sommelier further offered a biodynamic French Gamay instead of the heavier St. Laurent & Blaufrankish grown in the nearby Neusiedlersee featured in the tasting. The wine experience is customised to your liking.
A pink, slightly bittersweet vermouth made by Peter-Juranitsch-Andert was served with the desserts, but again I opted for a German Spätlese by Joh. Jos. Prüm that my husband had included in the ‘Signature Wine’ pairing. A dry Kabinett by Prüm, Ornellaia 2001, established Bordeaux (such as Château Pape Clement) or Premier Cru Burgundy pop out on this fancier menu.

Michelin star vegetarian restaurant Tian ViennaWiener gemischter Satz

Feel the food and get into the slow mood

As the jazz music quietly hums in the background, the pleasant and very professional servers gently flow into a slow food sequence. Dining at Tian is a decelerating, mindful experience in the fast urban world we live in. Drop your anxieties at the doorstep and give in to the unknown, where local ingredients meet culinary curiosity in the exquisite ‘Signature Taste by Paul Ivić’ menu and his team in Vienna. 

Only tasting menus are on call at Tian. Accommodating dietary restrictions, you have flexible choices between six, eight or ten small courses in ‘Tian Experience Taste’. Vegetable-centred two starters, a duet of soups as you never had them, two a bit larger veggie mains, two cheese variations and two desserts to choose from. Pick what you want for your preferred number of courses.

An amouse-bouche of marinated mushroom tasting like a scallop, puffed rice and cream cheese emulsion was served in a glass jar with raw mushroom tartare on a fried root cracker with kombucha vinegar.

A garlic roll and crackers were served with flax seeds, Italian and Austrian olive oils and salt flakes poured into glass laboratory tubes. Most of the plates at Tian are finished on the table in front of you. Involving three steps, the art on the plate is presented in its pure state before sauces, broths, soups, or liquid chocolate spoil the form, but complement the taste. The two soup courses pay homage to the Austrian tradition of soup before the main course. Authentic and extraordinary. During our initial visit we detected cinnamon in most of the dishes, but ever since the flavours were more diversified.

In winter you can find Parsley root with chicory and the best of its class Piedmont hazelnuts; a superb cinnamon scented shredded Red cabbage with mushroom stuffed onion, reduced cabbage juice, a slice of raw button mushroom and crunchy mushroom crumble. Grilled Jerusalem Artichoke with its purée, cinnamon and mountain hay broth that was intense yet showed the diverse use of the artichoke. Zen Garden of a celeriac terrine in Japanese flavours of yuzu with miso in a very reduced intense celery and miso broth which was excellent. Moving to richer, larger plates of Cauliflower with Pom Pom Blanc and sea buckthorn and Pumpkin Pistachio Sloe, you were assured that you won’t leave craving more food. The Bull’s Blood Beetroot, melon and yeast was also solidly pleasing and so was the last vegetable themed plate of Artichoke, fennel and parmesan.
To break the meal a palate refresher – something like a sorbet with buckwheat crumble or an ice lolly themed around “I love ice cream” and popcorn arrived. Then came cheese. Go either for a more touched up cheese course such as the Morbier with Viennese fig and coriander we had in winter or La Bêle – superb sheep’s cheese with almond and spring garlic we had in May. There is also a raw milk cheese plate of European mature picks by Maitre Anthony and Jumi.
The spring menu was equally delicious but the vegetables were totally different. Starting with Kohlrabi ravioli with minced mushrooms and a birch sauce served from a raw kohlrabi ‘bowl’, the sophisticated dough-free pasta highlighted the pure and precise vegetarian cooking of Paul Ivić. Ramson was served with whole leafy radishes and a creamy curd cheese. The wild garlic aka ramson is also known under the bear leek and is traditionally used in Europe to flavour herbed cheese. At Tian the chef softened its pungent taste by the curd cheese.
The uniquely flavoured soups were a stroke of genius by the chef. The Central European tradition of having soup before the main meal is elevated at Tian into concentrated expressions of plant infused pleasure. Perhaps only Alain Ducasse and chefs of his renown can deliver such a complex yet pure liquid delight. Both, the Tea infused verdant nettle and spinach broth, and the bolder Potato with mizuna shoots and a juniper kick were by a tiny flick the best plates of the tasting menu. More, we agreed that these were the most interesting, delicious soups we have had to date.
European cheese
Yet, we could not discount the joy delivered by the Fava Bean with morel mushrooms and black poplar shoots and the Fiss’ Barley sauce with spruce and soft egg that came later. The main larger portion of grated Celeriac in a cream cloth of green cress and woodruff  (in Germany traditionally steeped wine to add flavour), like a rich meaty tartare was the heaviest dish of the night. I liked more the Marshfield white smoked Asparagus with a cream laden asparagus sauce, peas and bishop’s weed

The pastry chef keeps his desserts quite similar over a long period. The Bean to Bar grand cru chocolate cake (Piura Porcelana) with cocoa-like Amazonian cupuacu fruit was finished with a pour over of a dense liquid chocolate. A liquorice brach with raw cocoa nibs served with it was an edible play to nibble on in between. The Thai flavours evoking Pandan Cereal with granola and coconut was an outlier, straying from the smooth flow of the service, but still very good. Most recently, Don’t Call Me Donut: Udzungwa, rhubarb and wild rice was indeed a different beast from a greasy donut.

Tiny sweet teasers are offered with tea or coffee at the end.
dessert

Chocolate dessertdessert at Tian

The flawless menu could benefit from a more efficient beverage service and a more precise English explanation of each dish by the staff. The chef Paul Ivić should be rewarded for his outstanding contribution to the gastronomic, vegetable-centric movement that now sways over the world. His food is better than any vegetarian or vegan restaurant I have tried globally – from Jean Georges’ ABCv, Dirt Candy and the vegan kaiseki (shojin ryori) Kajitsu New York, LA’s Crossroads by Tal Ronen, Plant food & wine by Matthew Kenney in Miami, King’s Joy in Beijing to Milan’s Michelin stared Joia and even the three star Parisian institution L’Arpège by Alain Passard. Tian in Vienna is showing the highest level of culinary sophistication from the vegetal world. Now, with his second restaurant in Munich and more casual veggie bistros* around Vienna, the awareness of excellent, more sustainable dining is deeply planted by the Tian group in Central Europe.


*Tian bistro Am Spitelberg for the best evening atmosphere, while Tian Bistro inside the Kunsthaus Wien museum embodies the nature adoring spirit of the Austrian architect and eco activist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who designed it. There, under the organically curved ceilings, you must order the exquisite Flamkuchen (known as Tarte flambée in Alsace) flatbreads.


Joseph Bröt: design bakery, bistro and patisserie meets tradition in Vienna

Bröt means bread in German. The round and generous loaf of Joseph Bröt, fragrant, giving off a nurturing grain scent and showing a face slashed with open cuts that like scars on a human flesh prove that this bread is a living organism.

Slow bread served with style in Vienna

Joseph Bröt is the antithesis to the plastic wrapped, with various life extending and age camouflaging agents enhanced, mass-produced, aka conventional, dead bread. This combination of all organic wheat, wholegrain rye and wholewheat flours is yeast-free, was left to rest and strengthen itself for up to 48 hours) and finally twice baked in a steam oven into a beautiful rustic loaf that is more nutritious, flavourful and easier to digest than the rushed convenience product. Slow, high quality bread is on the rise in the Western world. The popular Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, the E5 Bakery in London as well as the always full Joseph Bröt in Vienna have all gained a certain cultish following.
bio bread and pastries at Joseph Bröt in Vienna

Old made new: traditional baking reinterpreted into a design bakery

Traditional baking is as important to the Vienese café culture as is its Julius Meinl stamped coffee, the breaded and well-pounded Wiener schnitzel and the Sacher cake. There are plenty of elegant centenary cafés such as the always full Café Central, Café Hawelka or the Sacher café at the Hotel Sacher. I have done all of that, and these institutions are a compulsory experience when visting Vienna for the first time. But if you want to experience the Vienna of now, then you must notice that the contemporary, real local café culture there looks very different. Joseph Bröt is so far tourist-free, filled with creative young Austrians, quality seeking families and these appreciating efficient service and simple design. Founded in 2009 by youthful Josef Weghaupt, the Joseph bakery has an uncomplicated philosophy: simplicity.
Joseph Bröt offers freshly made bread, pastry and locally sourced and made artisanal delicatessen. It is expensive, but high quality, traditionally slow-risen bread with a crunchy crust, while having a juicy crumb and a chewy moist centre is worth the splurge (over €6 per loaf). The best bread can only be made by a skilled hand of an artisan from the purest natural ingredients. The same is true of sweet pastry. At Joseph they knead each pastry by hand.
Compared to a typical French bakery, the prices are higher, but this is because of the use of organic regional ingredients as opposed to bulk-flour and cheating with margarine instead of butter in croissants. The pastry is often inspired by seasonal ripe fruits that are incorporated into the sugary blissful experience.
Joseph Bröt bakery Vienna

French connection and retracable illusion of European pastry

Curiously the Austrians often title sweet baked pastry as patisserie, while the French may more likely describe the same as viennoiserie. The pain au chocolat, the croissant and the other sweet pastries you find in a basket at a good hotel are indeed called by the French viennoiserie. The Danish pastry also ows to borrowing from the Austrian tradition. As a descendant of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, I am familiar with most Vienese savory and sweet pastries. Czech Republic inherited plenty of the typically Austrian breadrolls, buns, braided breads and twists. The generous, spiced with a nut paste stuffed roll, the poppyseed twists, the apple strudel and many others, now with Czech names, are regular at the bakeries across the country.
The interconnectivity of the European culinary inspiration also today defines Joseph Bröt where some of the creative recipes span abroad to Italy. For example by using chestnut flour from Piedmont and kneeding the delectable foccacia.
Emmer porridge

Joseph Bröt: from a tiny bakery to a lively bistro

All the bread has been since the mid 2016 baked in the new work space surrounded by a natural forest around Burgschleinitz. Yet, all the food is prepared on the premisses of the bistro. My favourites are the popular plain Joseph Bröt (you can also buy just a half), spelt “praline” shaped bun with grape juice, apricot and hazelnut ciabatta from the sweet offerings and the baguette-long pumpkin as well as the sesame bread sticks. Still, I have not tried them all, so be guided by your own taste buds. Perhaps the levander honey loaf is your kind of glutenous pleasure. Most of the artisan produce here contains gluten, but many of the ancient grains as well as the frequently used rye flour here are naturally lower in this excessively villified bread texture improving protein. If you do not have a cealiac or other health condition that has been scietifically proven to be worsened by gluten, enjoy this wholegrain organic quality of yeast-free, slowly rised and thus easier to digest bread. Yeast is used just for raising the sweet temptations.
The classic Wiener Frühstuck (Vienese breakfast) of hard boiled eggs, a slice of bread, butter and jam, meets the millenial demand for vegan bowls such as the giant Emmer porridge that I tried once. I wish it were half the size, and had more fruit in it though. The Pur Pur Birchermüsli was sublime, as my sister, by ordering it at each breakfast, approved of.
Joseph Bröt bakerychia pudding
To take out, I highly recommend the raw butter, the dense Greek-style cow’s milk organic yogurts by Hofer family, the fresh plain cheese or the feta blended into a soft cheese with Mediterranean vegetables, granola, seed oils and various preserves and pickles by artisanal Austrian producers, but also high quality cheese from the neighboring countries (burrata and mozzarella di buffala from Italy). I found the pickled baby green tomatoes overpriced and too sour.
With breakfast a cup of coffee or tea is like an inhale without the exhale for most of us. We need a warm beverage with a bite to eat before trailing out to the work maze of a city. At Joseph, the olive leaves tisane was not my kind’a cuppa, but the Darjeeling as well as the espresso were of top quality and well-made. Bottled cold pressed juice as well as wine list make any meal more fun.
Although, I usually breakfast at the Joseph Bistro, I also tried a lunch, but so far not a dinner. With different menus, a weekend brunch, still with plenty of the superb bread and mainly local ingredients (forget about the superb salmon sandwich though), this is a perfect choice if you are in the promiximity of the lovely Stadt Park.
 Joseph Backerei Patisserie Bistro: 4 Landstraßer Hauptsraße, Wien
Joseph Brot: Naglergasse 9 & Obkirchergasse 37-39
At Landstraße: Bakery & Patisserie: Mon – Fri 7:30am – 9pm, Sat, Sun & public holidays 8am – 6pm
Bistro: Mon – Fri 8am – 9pm, Sat, Sun & public holidays 8am-6pm


Wachau: wine terraces, apricots, Danube and exquisite villages in Austria

In the Wachau valley – embroidering the grandiose Danube river in the North-West of Austria – the grapes share their carpet of land with lush apricot trees in a perfect harmony.
Wachau - apricots and vines
Wachau and Danube river
The siblings have a tolerant relationship with apricots ripening in July and later, when the pickers are rested, the grapes take on the workforce in a September harvest.
Speaking about harmony, the Wachau wine region is famous for its white Rieslings and Gruner Veltliners accompanying dishes from apricots in a precise match.
In July when every local restaurant adds to their menu the sinfully tasty apricot dumplings you have the unique opportunity to savour the ideal marriage between the apricots and Rieslings.
A local summer favourite is an Austrian version of the Bellini in which here the sparkling wine [often the fresher Gruner Veltliner] is mixed with lightly sour and sweet apricot juice. Great aperitif as well as great friend with the apricot dumplings. My creative taste buds were right this time – I would call this match the desert of summer gods.
Wines in the Wachau are of three categories according to their level of alcohol:
1) STEINFEDER – under 11.5 % alcohol
This fine and fruity wine is light and refreshing in the summer or and ideal light aperitif.
2) FEDERSPIEL – between 11.5 and 12.5% alcohol
Highly popular style since it is a great match with food. Elegant, fruity and mineral tones go well with fish [especially sweet water fish] and lean meat dishes.
3) SMARAGD – over 12.5% alcohol
Complex, aromatic, intense wine with great ageing potential. It should be drunk with heavier food, so creamy Austrian sauces, red meet, game, deserts and other intense dishes are perfect with it.
I have tasted a number of wines from all three categories. Two particular wines blew my mind: The first was a Riesling Jochinger Pichl Federspiel 2009 made by Josef Jamek in Joching, where a lovely hotel Jamek with restaurant and winery are located. Its mineral tone is perfectly balanced with sweetness of the Riesling – outstanding harmony with refreshing nose – must try!
Janek winery, hotel and restaurant in Wachau in Austria
The second was a very interesting Riesling from F.X.Pichler – Riesling F.X. Pichler “Unendlich” 2005 is Mr.Pichler’s top wine, perhaps the reason for calling it “eternal” or “endless”. Not everyone will love it, but if its unique flavours enchant you then it will be a love forever. I have tried it in the magnificent two Michelin starred restaurant Landhaus Bacher in Mautern. They definitely deserve their two stars as the food and staff will make your evening unforgettable while the ambiance is not at all stuffy. Just beware, you are in Austria where smoking is allowed in the restaurants, so if you are a non-smoker, then book ahead a non-smoking table in a separate lovely room. You will be pampered by their locally sourced food – mushrooms, sweet water fish, vegetable, apricots, … – and also well advised about an ideal wine to suit your palate. An interesting pearl at the end; their young chef Thomas Dorfer was voted the best chef by Gaut Millau in 2009 – worth a trip.
You can whet your appetite with these pictures.


Rare wine cellar in Vienna

You would expect to find a wine cellar this scale anywhere in France or in the US, but in Austria?
The wine cellar is hidden underground the luxurious hotel Palais Coburg in the heart of the old city.
This outstanding collection of wines from all over the world is a must-see if you are visiting Vienna.
It is possible to visit only upon a special request, either if you are staying at the hotel or dine at their gastronomic restaurant, which sources its bottles from this cellar.
I made a short video inside the cellar for those of you not able to travel there or as a teaser for the enthusiasts. I am sure after seeing this you will pack your suitcase on the nearest occasion and head to this charming Austrian capital.


Vienna's Heurigen: enjoying great wines casually

High quality wine by the glass? Usually, you would have to visit one of the top gourmet wine restaurants or bars where you would pay a fortune for them. Not in Vienna.
Traditional Heurigen are a blessing for wine lovers visiting the Austrian capital as well as for locals. These legendary wine shops, which are sometimes also wine bars, with a traditional Austrian ambiance are run by Viennese wine growers. You can get a very nice glass of Grüner Veltliner for as little as 1,50 € or a tasting session of six varieties from 7 €.
"smart" wine tasting board
Compared to the Middle Ages when the wines sprawled out right into the centre of the town, today you must head to the outskirts. In the North you find fine Riesling, Chardonnay and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) pampered by the limestone soil. The most popular and also more touristy area there is Grinzing.
If you want to escape the crowd then head to the South. Black earth soils favour strong white wines and opulent red cuvées (blends).
In a bone-chilling December I couldn’t explore any of the open wineries, so popular during the summer as you can enjoy wines outdoors with a spectacular view on Vienna.
During the winter you have to look for places with their own warm premises where you can taste the whole evening and in some even get a bite to eat.
I’ve visited Steinklammer, located in the Southern area of Mauer. This Heuriger has over 310 years of tradition and their staff is very helpful.
Steinklammer heurigen
Their lovely wooden inn was perfect for an icy evening. Starting with a glass of white Grüner Veltliner, high in acidity and tasting like a ripe green pear, I was a bit disappointed as it was perhaps too young for me.
Nevertheless, I moved to a Riesling, Reisberg, 2008 smelling like an elder flower, which with its balanced and refreshing citrus aroma enticed me to taste more.
I moved to reds and went for a tasting of six varieties for 9€. They were served on a long wooden tray with six fitted cuts for glasses.
The most interesting was Cabernet Franc 2002. Sweet at the beginning reminding me a black currant juice and later moving to deeper tones of casis.
Similar to this was Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 as it was quite fruity as well, but more distinct tannins in the mouth.
Cuvée Titan 2005 was a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Its unique taste of raisins and griotte was a pearl in a shell. Now I could happily leave this cosy Heuriger lucky enough to have a friend to take me home in her car. No way I would be able to drive after such a feast!
Still I was far from tasting all. In Vienna you can explore a wide variety of the typical “Gemischter Satz”, which is a wine made from different grape varieties planted next to each other and even harvested together.
Viennese are not afraid to experiment, but not on the account of the quality. Their wines will surprise you.
I bet, that most of you will know mostly the white Austrian wines as they make for 70% of the total production. That said the remaining 30% of reds are worth trial, at least for me they were a pleasant surprise. Let me know if I am wrong.
Look at the list of some Heurigen in Vienna and some facts about Heurigen in Vienna.
 


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