Classy and exclusive, the Tour de Vin lets you peek behind the scenes at Lower Austria’s finest vineyards.
By Catherine Hooker and Leopold Winkler
After spitting out approximately the 40th wine I tasted that day, I was starting to get the hang of it. The flavors and bouquets were slowly becoming distinct to me, allowing me to finally appreciate the differences between a Welschriesling or a Grüner Veltliner. But the modern, exposed concrete foyer of the acclaimed vintner Loimer in the Kamptal beckoned with every red and white wine from 2015 open and ready for tasting, so I still had a ways to go. Yet I steeled my resolve – no one ever said wine appreciation came easy, and such is life on the Tour de Vin. With 33 prime vineyards opening their doors for a weekend to present the finest wines in Lower Austria, this open house by venerable producers is proud of its exclusive pedigree, offering a wonderful way to discover the best wines of the Kremstal, Kamptal, Wagram and Traisental regions – though it may test your endurance.
Organized by the Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (Association of Traditional Austrian Winemakers) Tour de Vin has been going strong since starting in 1999. Their focus is on understanding the effects of soil and microclimate on their wines, leading to their classification of Erste Lagen (premier locations), a vineyard’s very best areas that produce the highest quality.
Determined by the winemakers themselves, cultivating Erste Lagen encourages the development of individual flavors based on their unique terroir (down to the hectare), instead of opting for a uniform mass product.
Life on tour
Visiting so many vineyards in one or even two days is best done with a car or by hiking, so bring your walking shoes or designate a driver – exploring vineyards is hard, thirsty work. Booking a hotel in epicenters like Krems or Langenlois is a good idea, making it easy to stroll between vineyards without worrying about driving home. Extra cash is also advisable – expect a €20 deposit for your tasting glass at each vineyard, which is forfeit if you break it. And above all, travel light – if a certain wine catches your fancy, home delivery is always an option.
Finally – if you prefer the destination over the journey – the tour reaches a high point with their Magnum Party in Krems, where all 33 members bring their own Magnum bottles (1.5 liter), allowing you to taste their finest all in one location. If you want to try something different, many vintners also offer vertical wine tastings (by consecutive vintages) for particular wines going back all the way to the 1990s or blind tastings to test your taste buds, with prizes in the balance.
Classics and Variations
Walking from vineyard to vineyard, you gradually get a feel for the makers and the philosophies behind their product. The surrounding landscape and architecture, as well as the general atmosphere and even their labels speak volumes. At every estate, you can chat with people who were involved from the vine to the cellar, knowing exactly what led to the unique character of their product.
After tasting a cloudy red that elicited mixed reactions from our group, the vintner confessed, “We actually forgot this barrel in the cellar, and when we found it a year later we were pleasantly surprised by the result!” Of course, prominent wineries have their classics, but such experiments can lead to interesting results – the forgotten barrel eventually joined the ranks of their natural wines.
After we visited our sixth vineyard and had our little guidebooks stamped, we submitted our completed stub for the chance to win some bottles to take home. But at this point I was thoroughly unenthusiastic after trying over 60 different wines in a single day. With so many flavors still dancing on my palate, we strolled back as the sun was setting behind us, all the more aware of the smell of loam and mud that gives Kamptal vintages their distinct taste. I felt a flicker of hope: At long last, I finally knew what a Welschriesling was. As a mere wine initiate, this was no small revelation.
A Day in Langenlois
With 33 vineyards, Langenlois is a treasure trove of liquid delight, ideal for a day trip. If you’re leaving the car at home to indulge yourself to the fullest, take the regional train from Heiligenstadt to Hadersdorf am Kamp, then take a local to Langenlois. Going easy, five vineyards are quite possible in a day, for example:
1. Loimer, Haindorfer Vogerlweg 23
2. Ludwig Ehn, Bahnstraße 3
3. Alwin Jurtschitsch, Rudolfstraße 39
4. Weszeli, Großer Buriweg 16
5. Hiedler, Am Rosenhügel 13
A visit in this order has a walking distance of 6.5 km, with a maximum of 20 minutes between tastings – just enough time to get some fresh air before moving on.
May 6 & 7 10:00-18:00, €25
May 6 Kloster Und
Undstrasse 6 20:30-1:00 Dresscode:
Smart casual Entry: €30, €20
with Tour de Vin button
Win a button and free entry to the Magnum Party!
Send an email to [email protected] with the subject: “I want to go to the Tour De Vin” and participate! Sweepstakes ends on Apr 23, 2017. Visit our website for more details.