The winegrowing region Vulkanland Steiermark is characterised by many small wine islands, with distinctive vineyards growing on the slopes of extinct volcanoes, which impart a truly unique and uncommon character to the landscape. 1,671 hectares of vineyards are cultivated in the region, concentrated around Klöch, Sankt Anna am Aigen and Straden. One grape variety here exhibits a special flair: the highly aromatic Traminer. The preferred form of wine marketing in the region is the Buschenschank, the traditional wine tavern.
Region & Wine
For centuries this was often highly contested border territory, as evidenced by the heavily fortified castles and strongholds built on the towering basalt cliffs. Today the borders are open; the Riegersburg, Kapfenstein Castle and other imposing and formerly noble residences have come to provide settings for peaceful cultural happenings, in many cases for wine- and culinary events.
The winegrowing region also has enough variety to support this, because a wide range of grapevines are happily growing here: Welschriesling, Morillon (Chardonnay), Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder, Gelber Muskateller, Traminer in all its varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and even Riesling on the white-wine side. Together they form the foundation for Vulkanland Steiermark DAC and Vulkanland Steiermark DAC Reserve. At the Ortswein level, Sauvignon Blanc is the most important leading variety, but Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder also play important roles here. Both find excellent conditions in Vulkanland, in that they prefer milder environments. One particular specialty of Vulkanland is Traminer, which can also be vinified semi-dry as an Ortswein from Klöch. Its distinctive aroma of roses is supported on the palate by delicate acidity. Interesting red wines, primarily vinified from Blauer Zweigelt, complement the winegrowing region Vulkanland’s extensive offering and are marketed with the designation of origin “Steiermark”.
The connecting element between all the wines here is a refined, mineral-driven spice, which evolves in the wines thanks to the special geologic conditions. Here in the transitional area from the hot, dry, Pannonian to damp, warm, Illyrian Mediterranean climates, tendrils of the Pannonian climate projecting out of the east also give the wines a subtle, regionally typical sense of substance. Pronounced temperature differences between day and night support the development of aromaticity in particular and the harmonious ripening of the grapes in general.
The warm soils upon which the vineyards grow show a strong variability between calcareous and limestone-free substrates, sandy and argillaceous basic materials or gravelly and volcanic deposits, as well as weathered schists and gneisses. On the upper slopes outside of Klöch the most common soils are sandy, argillaceous and mostly limestone-free. In Klöch itself, limestone-free red clay and brown clay, originating from basalt and tuff, are found almost exclusively.
Four wine trails lead through the photogenic and picturesque hilly landscape, while an entirely Styrian vinotheque in Sankt Anna am Aigen offers a good overview of the region’s production; popular tourist destinations include the thermal resorts strung along the volcanic fault line. The most important winegrowing districts are Bad Radkersburg, Feldbach, Gleisdorf, Hartberg, Kapfenstein, Klöch, Riegersburg, Sankt Peter, Straden, Tieschen and Weiz. In the north, on the Ringkogel near Hartberg, there are vineyards growing up to 650 metres above sea level, which figure among the highest in Austria.
Vulkanland Steiermark is also one of the most naturally unspoiled areas for tourism in Austria. Wonderful, perfectly signposted, themed hiking trails lead through an enchanting landscape. And everywhere, the friendly local Buschenschank – the wine tavern – invites the guest to taste the culinary delights of the neighbourhood along with the wines; one particular treat is the famous Styrian pumpkin seed oil.
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC: Submission for the Federal Inspection Number from 15 January in the year following the harvest, for Welschriesling as of 1 December in the harvest year
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with indication of municipality: Submission for the Federal Inspection Number from 1 April in the year following the harvest, for Klöcher Traminer in the first three years as of 1 March in the year following the harvest
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with vineyard designation: Submission for the Federal Inspection Number from 1 April in the year following the harvest
- Additional designation "Reserve": earliest sales date 18 months later than prescribed in the respective level
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC: max. 4 g/l; Riesling and Traminer must correspond to the designation “dry”
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with indication of municipality: max. 4 g/l; Riesling and Traminer must correspond to the designation “dry”; Klöcher Traminer also “half dry” or from Prädikatswein level with no limited residual sugar content
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with vineyard designation: max. 4 g/l; Riesling and Traminer must correspond to the designation “dry”
- Not specified
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC: Indication of origin (incl. “DAC) must be shown on the primary label (the label with all mandatory information) and the front label. Indication of the harvest year is mandatory.
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with indication of municipality: Designation of origin (incl. “DAC) and the name of the municipality must be shown on the primary label (the label with all mandatory information) and the front label.
- Vulkanland SteiermarkDAC with vineyard designation: Indication of origin (incl. “DAC) and the name of the vineyard must be shown on the primary label (the label with all mandatory information).
- Qualitätswein with the designation of origin “Steiermark” may not include a more detailed geographical designation than “Steiermark”.
Primary varieties for Ortswein:
- Oststeiermark: Sauvignon Blanc, Weissburgunder
- Gleichenberg: Sauvignon Blanc, Morillon
- Riegersburg: Sauvignon Blanc, Weissburgunder
- Kapfenstein: Sauvignon Blanc, Weissburgunder
- Sankt Anna: Sauvignon Blanc, Morillon
- Tieschen: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot cuvées
- Klöch: Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer
- Straden: Sauvignon Blanc, Grauburgunder
- Sankt Peter: Sauvignon Blanc, Weissburgunder
In upper Vulkanland Steiermark, on the southeast heights of the Joglland near Hartberg, the vineyards are laid out upon crystalline rock formations of the Eastern Alpine unit. Most are gneiss and mica schists, or to a lesser extent amphibolites and granites. Loose and rather variable, sandy and often pebbly-gravelly rocks of the Styrian Basin dominate further to the southeast.
The landscape and geology of lower Vulkanland Steiermark are shaped by the extinct volcanoes; they constitute quite a conspicuous presence in the landscape and are unique in Austria’s winegrowing regions, although they make up less than 10% of the winegrowing rock in Vulkanland Steiermark. An older and then a more recent phase of volcanic activity left behind red trachyandesite, hard black basalt, blistered basalt slag, tufts of solidified ash created by explosive volcanic eruptions and finely grained formations in crater lakes. The majority of the vineyards lie on variable deposits from the Paratethys Sea, the lakes and rivers of the Styrian Basin, and on Quaternary gravel terraces, which usually carry a top layer of clay.
Vulkanland has established itself as a region of gourmet indulgence, with its outstanding culinary specialties, which, in addition to wine, feature a wide variety of regional delights (including hams). But the Vulkanland DAC wines don’t cut such a fine figure just on their home turf. The Sauvignon Blancs are excellent companions for lighter to medium-texture fish, plus vegetable, asparagus and pasta dishes. Regionally typical Grauburgunder harmonises very nicely with powerful seafood dishes – in fuller-bodied versions also wonderfully with red-culture soft cheeses. Fruity-sweet Traminer also shines in combination with this type of cheese. Anyone who wants to travel further afield in the culinary world will find an excellent companion in the Traminer: its residual sweetness and opulence buffer the characteristic spiciness of many Asian dishes and provide special moments of pleasure.
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