Heidi Schrock Selektion Beerenauslese 2013
With vineyards that point towards the southeast and have sunlight from morning till evening. The oldest vineyard was planted in 1955 and the youngest was opened in the Riede Vogelsang area in 2013. (Riede is an Austrian term describing special winegrowing areas.) There is an oversee a rather broad spectrum of grapes, with Welschriesling, Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, Furmint, Gelber Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. Many hardworking helpers harvest the grapes exclusively by hand. For the dry white wines, the grapes are de-stemmed and pressed and the wine lees settle overnight. Subsequently, they ferment at 19° to 20°C and then remain on the yeast for some time, which allows them to develop their typical character and style. The red wines are fermented at 29°C and then lie on the skins for about 14 days before being gently pressed. Subsequently, they ripen for 9 months (Zweigelt) or 14 months (Blaufränkisch) in large oak barrels in the wine cellar.
Fog and humidity arise from the Neusiedlersee (lake), and extend over the wet flatlands region of the same name, all the way to Austria’s border with Hungary. This moisture, coupled with the daily sunshine that reflects from its wet surfaces, serves as the perfect environment for the development of the desirable fungus called, Botrytis cinerea.
This fungus causes the grapes to essentially “rot” and dry, concentrating their sugars for harvest. It also helps the grapes develop intricate phenolic complexities leading to some of the most sought-after and unique sweet wines in the world. Austrian law categorizes these botrytized, sweet wines according to the must weight (sugar concentration) at harvest in the same way as the Germans. So the wines will be labeled, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.
While the region’s reputation has historically ridden on the success of its sweet, botrytized wines, in 2011, Austria granted the official appellation of origin, Neusiedlersee, to its high quality Zweigelt red wines. As a result, any of its prestigious sweet wines will be actually be labeled after the general region of Burgenland.
Neusiedlersee’s slopes of mica, schist, limestone and variations in gravel, sand and clay make it ideal for its indigenous red varieties, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and Zwiegelt, as well as the international varieties of Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder), Merlot, Cabernet and even Syrah.
Though not widely planted here, some white wines, such as Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), have distinguished themselves locally.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.