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Burgenland, which stretches around Lake Neusiedl, but also far to the south between Hungary and Styria, is not only Austria's second-largest wine-growing region after Lower Austria, it is also possibly the most versatile. A large part of the country's best red wines come from here, produced in the east of the lake mainly from Zweigelt, in the west and south mainly from Blaufränkisch. But other varieties such as St. Laurent, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot also produce remarkable, sometimes even great wines throughout the area. Above all in the Seewinkel in the southeast and on the opposite side around Rust, noble sweet Prädikat wines are also produced with great reliability, which at their peak are without doubt among the best in the world. The area is less well known for its dry whites, though unjustifiably so. The Chardonnays can turn out exceptionally well, and the best wineries also regularly produce first-class wines from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Neuburger, Sauvignon, the occasional Grüner Veltliner and even Welschriesling.

The dynamics and variety of styles is enormous in Burgenland. From light and drinkable to thick and powerful, everything is available in all shades. In addition, more and more wineries are converting to organic or even biodynamic viticulture, and many of them are increasingly using unconventional vinification methods: the number of "natural" or "orange" wines is steadily increasing, and the experience with them is also rubbing off on the more conventional wines of the respective wineries.

Not only, but also because of this, the wine styles in the region are currently undergoing a change. Whereas just a few years ago concentration, power, alcohol and wood were, in the opinion of the producers, what made a great wine, many of them are now reflecting on a much cooler style with elegance and finesse, including some of those who were once among the pioneers of the concentration and new wood wave.

This development is undoubtedly most noticeable in the red wines. Although the alcohol-rich, often chocolaty-roasty and somewhat fruity examples are still in the majority, and there will always be enough lovers of this style to keep it from dying out, the more exciting ones are usually the more finesse-rich versions, especially since regional characteristics, as they are to be emphasised after the introduction of the DAC regions Neusiedlersee, Leihaberg, Mittelburgenland and Eisenberg, are often much more clearly expressed in the character of the wines' origins.

In total, we tasted around 350 wines for this "In Focus". Here we can only present a small selection of wines that particularly caught our eye. But there is much more to discover! You will find links to all the wines and participating producers in the text and at its end, as well as to the detailed presentation of Burgenland and its subzones in the glossary.

You will certainly miss some familiar names. We have not forgotten them, but unfortunately only a tel of the invited wineries followed our request for samples. Wines sent in later will of course be submitted later and, if necessary, also included here.

Lean white wines

2014 Roter Traminer Freyheit, Gernot und Heike Heinrich, ca 30€ Cloudy orange, complex, racy, taut, with tart juice, spice, lots of ripe tannin, firm and substantial and at the same time endowed with a touching inner calm; in the finish then again this wonderful, quite tart juice. Those who don't like Traminer and orange wine will perhaps be converted to both. The Pinot Gris "Freyheit" is also excellent - at just 12% alcohol.

2014 Graupert, Meinklang, 16€ Also cloudy orange. Very juicy and quite spicy, with smoky notes and amazing body for its 11.5% alcohol, distinct yeasty notes, grippy tannin, distinct minerality and a fine aromatic bitterness. Orange-haters might disagree, but for me the bottle was empty in no time at dinner.

2013 Pinot Blanc Heideboden, Anita and Hans Nittnaus, ca. 9€ Clear, straightforward, cool and polished, with salty mineral tones, fine juice and amazing substance despite its slenderness. Hard to beat the price-performance ratio.

2014 H14, Meinklang, 15€ The "H" stands for Hárslevelü, meaning lime-leaf, which originates from Hungary. Brightly floral, melony and apple-like, on the one hand delicately juicy, but also clearly stands out from the mainstream with noticeable tannic grip and salty minerality. Versatile food companion.

2014 Chardonnay Pratsche, MAD - Haus Marienberg, €7.50 Surprisingly mature for a Chardonnay in this price range: nutty, slightly melty, with good substance, clarified fruit, some tobacco and white bacon.

2015 Welschriesling Vogelsang, Hammer, 9€ Taut, cool and firm for all its slenderness, with peppery, salty and herbal notes; perhaps even better next summer than this one.

2015 Welschriesling [limited], Alfred Fischer, 4,50€ Exceedingly animating, fine-juicy, polished, even somewhat salty-mineral Welschriesling at an incredibly reasonable price.

Stronger white wines

2014 Chardonnay Gloria, Kollwentz, 46€ Pronouncedly firm, still downright compact, yet cool, finesse-rich and deep. Good for many years of maturity. In the "Katerstein" the wood is a bit more noticeable, but it is hardly inferior to the "Gloria". No wonder: Andi Kollwentz is one of the great experts of this variety in the country.

2013 Leithaberg DAC Chardonnay, Gernot and Heike Heinrich, €15.50 A multi-layered character wine, firm, grippy, salty-mineralic and moderately woody-spicy - but still quite reductive. Probably only to be touched in a year. The Pinot Blanc is just as good, but probably needs longer.

2013 Chardonnay Römerstein, Salzl, ca. 20€ More modern style, very powerful and clearly wood-spicy, but also firm, tart, lasting and multi-layered.

2014 Leihaberg DAC Chardonnay Freudshofer, Anita and Hans Nittnaus, ca. 19€ Ripe, substantial and tart at the same time, with restrained wood spice, crumbly tannins and earthy minerality. First-class food companion.

2013 Leithaberg DAC Scheibenberg, Hans Moser, 12€ Very skilfully developed, pure Chardonnay with just a hint of wood, juice, polish, some depth and mineral tension, which can also mature for a few more years.

2015 Pinot Blanc Seeberg, Prieler, ca.13€ Sustained, fine-juicy, firm and mineral - a lot of Pinot Blanc for the money.

2015 Grauburgunder Goldberg, Georg Preisinger, 7,70€ Once again, a hard-to-believe price-performance. Ripe, juicy, polished and firm, with amazing substance but restrained power, therefore perfectly balanced.

2013 Grüner Veltliner Himmelreich, Leopold Sommer, 19€ One of the best Veltliners of Burgenland: firm, ripe, powerful and melting, yet cool, with substance and depth. The Sauvignon "Riefring Thal" is also excellent.

2013 Grüner Veltliner Goldberg, Schönberger, ca, 13€ Firm, grippy and nutty, bone dry, still slightly yeasty; character wine with its very own spice.

Here is the link to all 85 currently tasted white wines from Burgenland.

The best red wines

The boundaries from slender to powerful, from cool to compote or from elegant to massive are so fluid here that it is difficult to put the reds into fixed categories. So here is an attempt to list the wines in order of weight, from light to powerful.

2013 Blaufränkisch "Alter Berg", Gernot and Heike Heinrich, ca. 55€ Stunning Blaufränkisch, whose brilliance, finesse and polish are reminiscent of great Burgundies or Northern Rhone Syrahs, yet remains entirely typical of the variety. Cool, tart, firm and deep, with salty minerality and silky tannins. Needs days in the air to show what it's made of and should definitely mature. Pannobile and Leithaberg are not quite up to it, but they are also classy and cost much less. But strictly speaking, you can buy everything here.

2012 Blaufränkisch Lehmgrube, Schönberger, ca. 30€ Completely on the tart side, despite its ripe fruit, earthy-mineral, underwoody, tobacco and somewhat bitter-chocolatey, with pepper, salt and dry herb aromas, serious, deep and finesse-rich.

2012 Blaufränkisch Urwerk, Ernst Triebaumer, ca. 40€ Unsulphured and therefore quite unique in aroma: dried-vegetable and mushroomy, under-woody, earthy-mineral, yeasty and floral, but also with the typical sour-tart cherry and blackberry tones of the variety, not at all oxidative, rather juicy, taut and long. Already a pleasure to drink, but also developing excellently - as older examples recently proved - despite the lack of sulphur. The '13 version is even more aloof, but should be just as good.

2013 Pannobile, Hans and Anita Nittnaus, approx. 25€ Made from Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Pure-toned, polished, fresh and tartly juicy, with very fine, noble tannins, dense and elegant at the same time. First-class Pannobile, only very young.

2011 Cavallo, Giefing, 29€ One of Austria's best Pinot Noirs, also because Claudia and Erich Giefing now use wood very carefully in Pinot and avoid over-ripeness: firm, tart, mineral, with depth, substance and bite.

2013 Pinot Noir Fabian, Hans Igler, €16.50 Ripe, juicy and polished, with some power and moderate wood, overall pleasingly cool, tart and mineral.

2012 Vintage Top Select, Hans Moser, 17€ Cuvée of pretty much everything the vineyard yields: Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Merlot and Syrah. Ripe dark fruit, peppers and dried tomatoes suggest the French varieties, smoky, spicy wood aromas, pepper, tar, all tart and tight - and without excessive alcohol.

2013 Steinriegel, Tinhof, approx. 12€ From Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and St. Laurent: polished, fine-juicy, taut, lasting and crisp. Great red wine fun for little money.

2013 Blaufränkisch Gloriette, Tinhof, ca. 25€ The big brother of the Steinriegel, clearly denser, more powerful and also riper-fruited, with sweet wood spice but also noticeable acid bite, firmly built, deep and salty-mineral.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Kollwentz, 46,40€ I have never experienced Cabernet Sauvignon from Austria better: enormously concentrated and yet elegant, complex, deep, exciting and tart. Masterful; for the long haul.

2012 Zweigelt Sacris, Salzl, approx. 30€ Fleshy, dense and juicy, with lots of modern wood spice, but also substance and complexity; a Zweigelt like there are not many.

2011 Zweigelt Tempelhüter, MAD - Haus Marienberg, 20€ Another exceptional Zweigelt: firm and juicy, with surprisingly complex fruit and spice for the variety, salty notes, grip and bite.

2013 Cuvée Impresario, Kerschbaum, 36€ Clear and polished, with lots of ripe fruit and nutty-chocolatey wood, also tobacco and cedar, but surprisingly cool despite the high alcohol. The Blaufränkisch "Dürrau" is just as good with a bit more acid bite; both still need some time.

2011 Merlot Joachimsthal, Hans Moser, 28€ Taut, juicy and dark, with notes of paprika and toasty wood, plus tart, salty mineral tones and very skilfully restrained power.

2011 Blaufränkisch Kirschgarten, Umathum, 45€ Already very powerful, rich in alcohol and with clear wood spice, but also quite firm and rather tart than compote-like, becoming juicier, tighter and more complex with aeration. Should be able to mature well for a long time.

2011 Tesoro, Esterházy, 45€ The flagship of the house from Blaufränkisch and Merlot: powerful, but not heavy, with a lot of polished, yet tart fruit, dark wood notes, bloody-animalic aromas from Merlot and peppery spice from Blaufränkisch, still undeveloped, but with air it already shows class. The Blaufränkisch "Föllig" for just under 20 euros is hardly inferior.

2012 Grande Reserve "V-Max", Rotweine Lang, 38€ Dark, tart and firm, very powerful, concentrated and multi-layered, lasting, very mineral and, for all its power, grippy, easily absorbs the alcohol. Needs to mature. The 13er "L1" is also excellent and, at just under 17€, quite friendly priced in view of its goodness.

2013 In Signo Sagittarii, Bayer, ca. 35€ Heribert and Patrick Bayer are convinced representatives of a very powerful red wine style made from highly ripe grapes and with quite spirited use of wood. But they are also experts in their field and the wines are by no means superficial chocolate jams. It is not the first time that we like the In Signo Sagittarii best in a consistently high-quality assortment because, as a pure Blaufränkisch, it still has a bit more bite. Experience has shown that it matures very well.

2012 Grande Reserve "Exzellenz", Domäne Pöttelsdorf, 29€ Blaufränkisch Clearly on the compote and woody side, so only for friends of this style, but just in "good", with substance, bite and a certain astringency.

2011 Potio Magica, Winzerkeller Neckenmarkt, 29€ Alcoholic yet tart and firm, with toasty wood, herbal notes, liquorice, juniper and surprisingly cool elements.

Even away from the absolute top, there are plenty of red wines in Burgenlnd that are worth discovering, and some of them at astonishingly reasonable prices for the quality on offer. A list of the best red wines up to a maximum of 12 euros can be found here. Unfortunately, we are missing the prices of many wines, so the list is quite incomplete. Therefore, here is the link to all 225 currently tasted red wines from Burgenland.

Sweet wines

As already mentioned, Burgenland is one of the most important sweet wine regions of the Weilt. At the same time, even the largest Prädikat wines of the region usually remain extremely inexpensive in comparison to famous Sauternes or German high predicates. For this "In Focus", however, we have concentrated on the dry wines of the region. We will present the sweet wines of the region in detail on another occasion. The few predicates we tasted from Burgenland this year can be found here.

Click here for Burgenland with all its subzones in the glossary.

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