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.
Region 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 412 hectares of 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 the 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!
(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 and the communities Jois and Winden, as well as some vineyards in the municipality Neusiedl am See.
- White: submission for the Federal Inspection Number as of 1 May in the year following the harvest
- Red: mandatory élevage in wooden cask, submission for the Federal Inspection Number as of 1 May in the second year following the harvest.
Alcohol:min. 12.5% vol.
- White: dry
- Red: max. 2.5 g/l
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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