Named after the river Kamp that runs through it, the Kamptal’s principal town is Langenlois, Austria’s largest wine-producing town. With 3,582 hectares under vine and numerous internationally reputed leading wineries, the Kamptal is one of the most successful wine-growing regions in the country. Culture and tourism also enjoy particular prominence here. Since the 2008 vintage, the designation Kamptal DAC has been used to label Grüner Veltliner and Riesling produced in classic-to-middleweight styles and as dense, dry Reserve wines.
The Kamp is a river, some 150 km long, which flows north to south and empties into the Danube roughly to the east of Krems. A range of different rock formations can be found in the Kamptal wine-growing region, including loess, gravel, striking crystalline intrusions and red sandstone rich in feldspars, as well as conglomerate on the famous Heiligenstein mountain. These types of rock form the basis of a colourful geological patchwork that stretches throughout the entire region, bearing testimony to the former existence of seas and volcanoes, the displacement of rivers in primeval times, and the rock dust that was blown in during the ice ages. It comes, therefore, as little surprise that the wines from the Kamptal – influenced by differences in aspect, elevation and soils – exhibit very distinctive, individual characteristics.
One particular feature of the Heiligenstein mountain is the 270-million-year-old sandstone with volcanic elements, which originated from the former Permian desert. Although the German word “heilig” translates as “holy”, Heiligenstein actually gets its name from the hellish sunshine that makes for a hot, dry microclimate. The steep terraces of the mountain’s southern slope – so steep that no permanent covering of loess could possibly remain – are home primarily to Riesling, which produces powerful, mineral-driven wines with extremely good ageing potential. Towards the Danube, the soil composition of the vineyards changes. The wide loess and loam terraces provide ideal growing conditions for classic, but also very dense, Grüner Veltliner. As Gebietswein (regional wine) and Ortswein (“villages” wine), both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling express the regional typicity of the classic Kamptal DAC. These are fresh, dry white wines full of personality, with a pleasantly light-footed, yet compact, structure. The premium, dense Riedenwein (single-vineyard wines) and Reserves, with their substantial character and depth, express the typicity of their origins in an unmistakable way. Both red and white Pinot varieties, as well as Blauer Zweigelt, also show their strengths here, and are marketed under the “Niederösterreich” designation.
In terms of climate, there is a noticeable dynamic tension in the Kamptal between the hot, Pannonian basin in the east and the cool Waldviertel to the north-west, and this touch of freshness can also be felt in the wines. The contrast between the heat of the day and the substantially lower night-time temperatures imparts great aromatic finesse and vibrant acidity to the grapes.
A popular attraction for wine tourists here is the Loisium wine museum. Above ground, it offers a futuristic visitor centre together with a vinotheque of regional wines, while the mystically staged underground wine experience includes sound and light displays along the centuries-old pathways. Besides the town of Langenlois and its associated municipalities of Schiltern, Gobelsburg, Haindorf and Zöbing, this region is home to the important wine-growing village of Straß im Straßertal, as well as numerous smaller wine villages such as Etsdorf, Hadersdorf, Kammern, Lengenfeld and Schönberg
- Kamptal DAC, Kamptal DAC with indication of municipality: submission for the Federal Inspection Number as of 1 January in the year following the harvest
- Kamptal DAC with indication of municipality and vineyard designation: submission for the Federal Inspection Number as of 1 March in the year following the harvest
- Kamptal DAC Reserve: submission for the Federal Inspection Number as of 1 July in the year following the harvest
- Kamptal DAC: min. 11.5% vol.
- Kamptal DAC with indication of municipality: min. 12% vol.
- Kamptal DAC with indication of municipality and vineyard designation: min. 12.5% vol.
- Kamptal DAC Reserve: min. 13% vol.
- Kamptal DAC, Kamptal DAC with indication of municipality, Kremstal DAC with indication of municipality and vineyard designation: no dominant botrytis flavours, well-balanced, with the concentration typical of the vintage indicated.
- Kamptal DAC Reserve: robust in style, pronounced regional character, extremely concentrated and long in the finish; delicate notes of botrytis or oak are acceptable
The south-facing wine-growing region comprises rocks with geological expressions from the Variscan orogeny and the Molasse zone. The Molasse zone shows evidence of the transformation from a body of water known to geologists as the Paratethys sea into a river landscape shaped by the overlapping influences of the three river systems of the Kamp, Traisen and Danube.
The north is dominated by diverse and predominantly acidic hard crystalline rocks similar to those found in the Wachau and Kremstal. A rock package, the only one of its kind in Austria, is sunk into these rocks, forming a wedge stretching north-east from the Heiligenstein mountain. This tectonic trench contains the first-cycle sediments from the formerly high mountains of the Bohemian Massif. These comprise conglomerate, sandstone, arkose (red sandstone rich in feldspars) and slate clays formed about 320–250 million years ago, mostly during a dry and hot climatic period as flash-flood sediments poured off the ancient mountains into the foreland. A special feature of the conglomerate is the rhyolite pebbles that it contains, testimony to past volcanic eruptions. Ice-age loess is also the most prevalent type of substratum in the Kamptal vineyards.
The concentrated structure of Kamptal DAC wines harmonises with a wide range of culinary styles and dishes. A Kamptal DAC tastes best with baked or grilled fish and seafood, but also with traditional dishes such as roast chicken or baked meats. The Reserve category will also stand up to the savoury recipes of various ethnic cuisines, but also feel quite at home in creative gourmet preparations.