The Leitha Range is home to the all-rounders. Hardly any other winegrowing region hosts such diversely varied forms of wine as do these 2,878 hectares on the western banks of Lake Neusiedl. Leithaberg DAC wines can be both red and white, and will always display the minerality, dynamic tension and vitality typical of the region.
Region & Wine
Leithaberg is one of the oldest winegrowing regions in the world, on the Burgenland side of the Leitha Range west of Lake Neusiedl, with 2,878 hectares under vines. Discoveries of grape seeds as grave-goods in a Celtic burial mound from the Hallstatt Culture in Zagersdorf dating back to the 8th century BCE provide some of the oldest evidence of viticulture in Central Europe. Characteristic for this locale are the vineyards sloping down toward Lake Neusiedl, embraced by countless almond, cherry and peach trees.
The dry wines all carry the signature of the soils on the slope of the Leitha Range, where acidic, crystalline schist and gneiss appear between limestone-rich strata again and again. This fossil limestone – around 15 million years old – brings a slightly salty note and an element of elegance to the wines, while the schist imparts the desired dynamic tension and backbone. Climatically, Lake Neusiedl brings important ripeness to the wines with its warm winds, while the mountains lend nocturnal coolness and thus fruitiness, freshness, finesse and vivacity.
The regionally typical wines here are marketed under the designation “ Leithaberg DAC ”. White Leithaberg DAC may be produced from the varieties Weissburgunder, Chardonnay, Neuburger or Grüner Veltliner, as well as cuvées composed of these varieties. Red Leithaberg is vinified from Blaufränkisch. The reds are matured in cask, but any woody note should remain discreetly in the background and support the character, the elegance and tension of the wine, while not claiming any undue attention. White or red Leithaberg DAC is always mineral-driven and relatively robust in character (stated alcohol on the label 12.5%, 13% or 13.5% vol.). In addition, in the area west of Lake Neusiedl a wide range of other varieties and styles appear, which are customarily marketed under the designation of origin “Burgenland”.
The region, with its many excellent wine estates, is also a top destination for wine tourism. (Wine) culture as a supporting program is offered, among the many attractions, by the state capital Eisenstadt, with its famous Esterházy Palace, Mörbisch with the lake festivals, Sankt Margarethen with its music festival in the ancient Roman quarry, or the Austrian Wine Academy in Rust.
(WHITE: AS OF THE 2009 VINTAGE, RED: AS OF THE 2008 VINTAGE)
Encompasses the political district Eisenstadt and vicinity, the free cities Eisenstadt and Rust, the communities Jois and Winden, as well as some vineyards in the municipality Neusiedl am See.
- White: Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, Neuburger, Grüner Veltliner or a cuvée of these varieties
- Red: Blaufränkisch
- Leithaberg DAC without more specific designation of origin (designation of village or Ried (single vineyard)): Submission for the Federal Inspection Number from 1 February in the year following the harvest
- Leithaberg DAC with more specific designation of origin (designation of village or Ried (single vineyard)):
Alcohol: min. 12.5% vol.
- White: dry
- Red: max. 2.5 g/l
The oldest forms of rock here are the acidic schist and gneiss of the Eastern Alpine unit, which form the central part of the Leitha Range and support the highest-elevations vineyards between Breitenbrunn and Donnerskirchen, as well as individual sites around Eisenstadt and Oslip. The most noteworthy rock in the region, however, is the Leitha limestone. This distinctive stone was created in the calm shallow waters of the warm sea, which lapped at the edges of the Leitha Range some 11–16 million years ago and provided space for the formation of small reefs. Leitha limestone is a solid and bright algae limestone rich in remnants of marine creatures such as bivalves, snails and sharks. In contrast, the quartz-rich, sandy gravel one finds in the hills of Rust is somewhat older. Separated by a tectonic displacement from the Leitha limestones, here one finds two very different parent rocks for both acidic and calcareous vineyard soils right next to each other.
In the lower elevations, the vineyards are planted on loose, mostly calcareous silt, sands and gravels of the Pannonian Basin, as well as on loam, lacustrine clay and gritty alluvial deposits.
White Leithaberg is an extremely versatile dining companion, a congenial partner to fish and poultry dishes that feature a touch of the savoury – paprika, for example. With asparagus as well, one finds many very elegant regional ambassadors with a bit of bottle age to be marvellously complementary. The mineral character of the red Leithaberg DAC asks for pan-seared steaks, venison fillets or ragouts, rack of lamb or a pink duck breast.
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The Town of storks & noble wine
On the west bank of Lake Neusiedl, the free city of Rust is one of Austria’s wine communities richest in tradition. Along with its regionally typical mineral-driven red and white Leithaberg DAC wines, the town is home to an Austrian legend: the nobly sweet Ruster Ausbruch, which is protected by DAC regulation as of 2020.
Origin and Wine
Nestled in the winegrowing region Leithaberg and open on its east side to Lake Neusiedl, the town of Rust has a mere 2,000 inhabitants but a rich history in wine. As early as the Middle Ages, the winegrowers of Rust could draw on a wide network of trade contacts to Bavaria and as far away as Poland for selling their excellent wines. In 1524, Queen Maria of Hungary granted Rust’s winegrowers the privilege of burning a large “R” in their wine casks as an early designation and protection of origin. The excellent reputation of the sweet Ruster Ausbruch ensured prosperity in the city and ultimately even contributed to Rust’s official ascendancy: in 1681, the citizens bought the title of “Royal Free City” for 60,000 guilders and 500 Eimer (about 30,000 litres) of Ausbruch from Emperor Leopold I.
Winegrowing continues to play a central role to this day in Rust: the Austrian Wine Academy is located here, and long-established winegrower families produce stylistically distinctive white, red and sweet wines from the town's vineyards. While the soils, characterised by the Leitha limestone in the north of the municipality, furnish an excellent basis for Blaufränkisch and the Pinot varieties, in the south the quartz-rich, typical “Ruster gravel” yields mostly delicate white wines with conspicuous minerality – also from the rare, traditional variety Furmint, which was once the most important grape variety in Burgenland and is currently experiencing a renaissance. Like all Leithaberg wines, the wines of Rust are moulded by the Pannonian influence, the temperature regulation of Lake Neusiedl and the foothills of the Leitha Range with their cooling downdrafts. With fully ripened fruit, the wines always show spice, minerality and finesse. Dry wines from Rust may bear the designation of origin “ Leithaberg DAC ” as of the 2020 vintage, provided they meet the requirements of the corresponding regulation.
But the greatest treasure remains the Ruster Ausbruch, a nobly sweet wine with a centuries-old tradition and an international reputation, which is protected by its own DAC regulation as of 2020. Basically, the Ruster Ausbruch DAC corresponds to a Trockenbeerenauslese; only Qualitätswein grapes grown in the free city of Rust, which are affected and shrivelled by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, may be used. The term “Ausbruch” comes from the laborious hand-selection of suitable berries, in which the desired berries are “broken” from the grape. These wines are characterised by a refined interplay of sweetness and acidity – Ruster Ausbruch is never overly corpulent, despite its high degree of concentration – making it a very versatile companion to fine dining.
All wines not released to the market as Leithaberg DAC or Ruster Ausbruch DAC bear the designation of origin “Burgenland”. Above all this includes the abundant portfolio of dry wines, but also nobly sweet specialties such as Auslese and Beerenauslese.
In addition to the wine, Rust attracts visitors to its charming and historic town centre, where chimneys are decorated every year by the nests of visiting families of storks. From March to August, the migratory birds shape the cityscape to such an extent that Rust has been given the nickname “City of Storks”. A wide range of leisure activities around Lake Neusiedl and fine culinary opportunities in town and the surrounding area round off the possibilities awaiting the tourist.
Ruster Ausbruch DAC
Regional delineation: the wine must be vinified exclusively from grapes grown within the municipal limits of Rust.
Residual sugar: min. 45 g/l
Hand harvesting mandatory!
The geological conditions that prevail in Rust are particularly striking: the quartz-rich Rust gravel and sand predominate to the south, while the somewhat younger Leitha limestone dominates in the north. The Leitha limestone was created in the calm shallow water of the warm sea that washed around the crystalline bedrock 11–16 million years ago in the interior of the Ruster hills, forming small reefs and hosting copious marine life. The Rust gravel and sand can be traced back to an older river, which brought quartz, quartzite, gneiss and mica schist from the rising Alps with it and deposited them here as rounded pebbles and sand. Separated from the Leitha limestone by a tectonic shift, there are two very different base rocks in Rust, which finds acidic and limestony vineyard soils situated side by side. In the lower elevations towards the lake, the vineyards grow on washed-down loam and young lacustrine clays.
Like the dry wines of Rust, the Ruster Ausbruch is a very versatile food companion. Of course it harmonises with classic Austrian pastries and international desserts, but for the adventuresome individual, a truly exciting universe of flavour combinations opens up: fowl liver, blue cheese, spicy Asian dishes, even a hearty ragout or a steak can be paired and complemented with the sweet liquid gold of Rust, offering incomparable culinary experiences.
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