Monday, January 22, 2018

Travelogue - 36 Hours in Vienna

Following our whirlwind tour through the wine regions surrounding Vienna (read about part 1 and part 2) we headed in to the city and dropped our car for 2 nights and one full day to explore.  

We stayed at Hotel Das Tyrol, the perfect location and a steam room and sauna available for guests to top it off!  The breakfast was 25 euro per person so we decided to venture out and so glad we did.  We started our day at Neni in the Naschmarkt where we feasted on the Israeli breakfast spread of our dreams.  The market is worth a walk around as well, with vendors hawking samples of everything from truffle salami to falafel.  We put together a breakfast picnic for our early train ride the next morning. 

We spent the day wandering Vienna and loosely following Rick Steve's walking tour, hitting the highlights of the very manageable and walkable city.  I made Jared hike the 343 steps to the top of St. Stephen's Cathedral, we had to make room for lunch at Weibel's Wirtshaus!

Infamous schnitzel!

After lunch we wandered through the various Christmas markets.

We followed "Rick's crude tip" and bought same day standing tickets for the Opera and stayed for the first 30 minutes before heading to dinner.  To view the inside you have to either view a performance or take one of the 45 minute guided tours, at 4 euro per person we were front row center just behind the orchestra section, such a good deal and just enough Opera for our attention spans!  

We had dinner at Trattoria da Paolo & Anna the first night and O Boufes the second night, both delicious but very different. The service at both elevated the food and experience to a memorable level!

I was a little concerned that we wouldn't have enough time to see the city but it was the perfect amount of time.  Granted we're not the biggest museum people and you'll notice we didn't visit any in our one day, so if you wanted to build that in I would recommend 2 full days to see it all.  

Next up, Budapest!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Regions of Austria Part 2 - Burgenland and Tattendorf

After a successful morning in the Kamptal region, we continued our drive past Vienna, another hour south to Rust in the heart of Burgenland.  We rested our heads at Pension Kral Bike & Wine, after over 30 wines in one day I don't think I've ever hit the pillow so hard!  Word of warning, almost nothing is open in Rust on Monday nights, we drove 20 minutes to Eisenstadt and for dinner at Die Alm, it was good, and in a really cool building perched on a hilltop, but we were so tired it was a quick evening and back home to bed.

Austria's bed set up was actually very functional with two individual duvets (no cover hogging!), gotta try this at home!
After a simple breakfast overlooking the vines behind the pension we headed to Triebaumer where we spent the morning in the cellar with Gunter, third generation wine maker who with his wife Regina runs the winery.  It was so eye opening to chat with Gunter and taste through his truly extraordinary wines, 14 of them to be exact, again we were off to the races well before noon!

Rust and Burgenland is more red wine territory and Gunter's wines really showcased the terroir.  His 2015 Blaufränkisch Reserve was incredible, with notes of dark cherry and a hint of spice.  His sweet wines were also amazing, especially the 2014 Ruster Ausbruch (the signature wine of the region, made from hand-selected individual grapes affected with Botrytis or "noble rot") with notes of apricot compote, honey and fresh out of the oven brioche.  

We headed a few doors down to our next stop, Feiler-Artinger.  Run by 4th generation Kurt Feiler and his wife Katrin, who took us through her favorite 9 wines in their warm and cozy tasting room right on the main street.  They are one of the few to produce a Ruster Ausbruch from the red Zweigelt grape, the 2013 was harvested the first week of December!  These grapes hang around for quite some time until that noble rot sets in!  The wine is then fermented for 2 years in oak, so it's certainly a labor of love from grape to bottle.    

Next up, perhaps one of the more widely known Rust producers, Heidi Schrock.  Her son gave us a cellar tour and barrel tasting of some of the still fermenting 2017 wines!  Then we went upstairs for more tasting, including their Furmint, Weisburgunder and sweet wines Auslese and Ruster Ausbruch.  Their sweet wine labels are designed with images and symbols representing the tasting notes found in the wines, making it very easy to decide which wine you would want to pair with your mood or meal!

We hit the road to drive back towards Vienna stopping in Tattendorf to visit our friend Stefan at his family's winery Landauer-Gisperg.  Another solid lineup of wines including several different St. Laurent wines (the 3rd most widely planted grape in Austria, known for being highly aromatic with dark skins).  

This itinerary is not for the weak!  We tasted over 50 wines in one day (I spit all but 3) with no time for lunch as we raced through the Austrian countryside!  But it was so eye opening to experience these unique varieties and to hear the stories of these hardworking families living their passion.  

We made our way back to Vienna where we faceplanted into the most delicious dinner at Trattoria da Paolo y Anna.  I can't even believe it but I was a little wine'd out at that point, but a glass of dry prosecco revived my palate and made for a truly enjoyable end to an amazing tour through the best of Austrian wine! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Regions of Austria Part 1 - Kamptal

Kayak flight search lead us to book Thanksgiving week in Austria and Hungary, two totally unexpected spots that I didn't have very high on my list of must-see places, but that was honestly part of the fun of it, something totally different and unexpected from our long list of western Europe bucket-list destinations.  

And so we found ourselves spending 2 nights in the wine regions surrounding Vienna.  We flew into Vienna and rented a car to drive 1 hour north to Langenlois, Austria's largest wine-producing town in the heart of the Kamptal region.  We spent one night at the Loisium Wine & Spa Resort where we greatly enjoyed the 3 different saunas/steam room and outdoor heated pool!  The rooms were so spacious and the breakfast was wonderful!  We walked down the hill to a delicious dinner at Heurigenhof Brundlmayer, the restaurant affiliated with the famous Brundlmayer Winery.  As we were there Sunday/Monday, the winery was closed so the restaurant was a great option to taste several wines paired with some of the best food of our time in Austria.  

Lucky for us it was the beginning of goose season, paired with dumplings and the most amazing red wine cabbage!  Seriously one of the best apple desserts I've ever had, and the cheese.....goes without saying!  The wines were all delicious as well, I know we're in white wine territory but one of my favorites of the night was the Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend!  We also had a Chardonnay dessert wine which was a first for me but how could I say no to a new version of Chardonnay??  A perfect pairing for the apple tart.

We started day 2 with a dip in the pool before breakfast, can every day start like that?

We headed to Schloss Gobelsburg where we were really given the royal treatment by our lovely host Evelyn and a broad tasting of some of their best.  10 wines before noon, going strong straight out of the gate!  Their 2015 "Tradition" Gruner Veltliner and Riesling were my favorites.

We said our goodbyes and made our way back towards Vienna to the town of Stetten where we spent the afternoon with Heidi of Pfaffl Winery.  Her and her brother Roman took over their parent's winery and were awarded European Winery of the Year in 2016 by Wine Enthusiast!  Talk about brother/sister dream team and serious #goals.

Roman Sr. started the winery in 1978 and has been a steward of the Grüner Veltliner grape ever since; so much so that he was deemed "Mr. Veltliner" and has pushed for world recognition of the grape through his skilled winemaking.  This grape is often associated with notes of pepper, this is very prevalent in Pfaffl wines, so much so that it's referred to as the signature "Pfaffl Pepper".    


Stay tuned for Part 2 - onward south to Rust in the heart of Burgenland!

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