Influenced by the hot continental Pannonian climate, the easternmost of Austrian federal states – Burgenland – produces the most opulent and authoritative red wines in Austria, along with complex whites and extraordinarily fine nobly sweet wines. Here, though, there are regional differences – not to be underestimated – that come into play with regard to the natural conditions.
Region & Wine
All the way to the south, the Eisenberg offers the grape variety Blaufränkisch the best possible circumstances for yielding red wines of the finest minerality and incomparable elegance, thanks to its special soils and a breath of Styrian freshness in the climate. Ruster Ausbruch – one of the world’s most famous nobly sweet wines – is another cornerstone upon which the diversity and depth of Burgenland’s regional identity is built. The heavy clay soils of Mittelburgenland and the region Rosalia impart a particular depth of fruit and length on the palate to Blaufränkisch, while in the hill country west of Lake Neusiedl, this can be enhanced with a distinct mineral note and vivid tannins.
With its limestone and slate soils, the eastern declivity of the Leitha Range provides a distinctive terroir for complex white wines – above all Weissburgunder and Chardonnay – but also for Grüner Veltliner and the red Blaufränkisch. Fine Prädikatsweine like the legendary Ruster Ausbruch round out the triumvirate of Burgenland’s vivacious palette.
On the east side of Lake Neusiedl, Blauer Zweigelt takes the stage with powerful and juicy red wines – even as Blaufränkisch and Sankt Laurent also yield outstanding results. The subregion Seewinkel to the south belongs to one of the world’s few true bastions of nobly sweet wine. Here the high humidity – thanks to the numerous little bodies of water called
“Zicklacken” – encourages the onset of Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). Thanks to this, it is regularly possible to harvest great Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen here. Along with other varieties like Chardonnay, Scheurebe or Traminer, Welschriesling attains exceptional levels of expressiveness in this form.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the wine industry in Burgenland has been the pioneering spirit of the winegrowers. Their notable combination of innovation and just plain hard work has enabled wines vinified from ‘international’ grape varieties and robust red cuvées to achieve the highest level of recognition.
Since Burgenland’s first regionally typical wines – Mittelburgenland DAC – came on the market (2005 vintage), Leithaberg DAC (red wine 2008, white 2009), Eisenberg DAC (2009, Reserve 2008) and Neusiedlersee DAC (2011, Reserve 2010) have established themselves as well. With the classification of former large collective vineyard site Rosalia as an independent DAC in 2018 and the introduction of Ruster Ausbruch DAC in 2020, the family circle of Burgenland’s DAC regions is now complete.
Burgenland was formed out of the Styrian and Pannonian Basins, as well as from the Eastern Alpine unit and the Penninicum. The Eastern Alpine unit consists of several strata of rock, where the lower level of the Penninic Nappes comes to light in tectonic windows. Deposits from the Quaternary Period are particularly widespread in the north of the region.
With a proportion of more than 60%, the coarsely grained sandy gravels of varying carbon content from the courses of the primeval Danube are dominant, in particular the Seewinkel gravels, which support about one third of all vineyards in the region. The Seewinkel gravels are covered only in places by fine sediments, while in the older terraces a loamy, often limestone-poor covering stratum can be widely observed.
A solid third of the vineyard area is growing on the basin’s Neogene sedimentary deposits. These vary greatly in composition, both in particle size distribution as well as carbon content and solidification: the range extends from partly silty, sometimes almost pure and limestone-free clays in Mittelburgenland to solid Leitha limestone.
The proportion of vineyard parcels growing on solid rock is slight, but one finds here a rich lithic spectrum that includes dolomite and limestone plus limestony schists, argillaceous schists and mica schists, along with gneisses, amphibolites and serpentinites.
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