Austria is so much more than grüner veltliner. You will notice this not least when you come to Burgenland. Drinking the regions red wines from zweigelt, blaufränkisch, sankt laurent and merlot will forever change your perception of Austria as a white wine country. We have recently tasted wines from a small and ambitious producer called Artisan Wines, located in the town of Halbturn. The tasting was an excellent illustration of the great variety you find in Burgenland.
Burgenland is in easternmost Austria and borders Styria (Steiermark) in the south and Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) in the north. The region has just over 13,000 hectares and produces white, red and sweet wine. Austria in total has 48,000 ha of vineyards.
Artisan Wines in Halbturn has around five hectares and is run by the couple Franz Schneider and Ulrike Schmid. The village of Halbturn is just east of the lake Neusiedlersee and only 2 kilometres from the Hungarian border. Franz studied winemaking and oenology and then worked at Luciano Sandrone in Barolo and Klein Constantia in South Africa. He also practised at the Geisenheim Research Institute in Germany. In other words, he has seen different parts of the big wine world, always a good idea when you start your own vineyard.
The white wines
Artisan Wine Heideboden Weiss 2018 Dry, Burgenland, Austrian quality wine
This is a blend of grauburgunder (pinot gris) and chardonnay with a short-ageing in old, large oak barrels. You will find tropical fruit such as mango and also ripe apples on the nose and palate, a good body and intensity. Refreshing acidity and dry finish. 9 euro
Artisan Halbturn white Chardonnay 2017, Burgenland, Austria
A lovely wine indeed. Slightly aromatic, with high acidity, good mouthfeel and some honey. Quite complex. The wine has aged for 13 months on its lees in larger and smaller oak barrels. 19 euro
Artisan Wines Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve Welschriesling Beerenauslese 2019
Smooth and soft with a generous sweetness of 145 grams of sugar per litre. Full-bodied with a taste of ripe apricots and honey.
The red wines
Franz ages the red wines in small and large wooden barrels. He uses old, large barrels that hold 2000 litres and which, unlike the small barrels, are made of acacia.
Heideboden Rot 2018 Trocken, Burgenland, Austria
The grapes are 55% blaufränkisch and 45% merlot. Aromas of fresh herbs and lots of fruit. A good body with some acidity and tannin, just right for a good structure but still with a certain softness at the end. Aged in big oak casks. A lot of wine for the price. 9 euro
Artisan wines, The Artisan Merlot 2017, Burgenland, Austria
Full-bodied and powerful wine with lots of dark fruit. Relatively soft finish but a good backbone of acidity and tannins. It is aged for 23 months in new oak barrels, so the oak aromas are present but are relatively discreet. Delicious and expressive wine. Franz ferments the must in open tanks, with daily punch-downs. 29 euro
Artisan Wines Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve Zweigelt 2017, Burgenland, Austria
Very pleasant and easy-drinking with cherries and other red fruit. Refreshing with good acidity. Zweigelt is Burgenland’s top red grape variety. It is a crossing between saint laurent and blaufränkisch, and it was developed by Friedrich Zweigelt in 1922.
Artisan Wines Frizzante Rosé Blend 2020
This unpretentious bubble is made of zweigelt and with added carbon dioxide. Surprisingly persistent bubbles despite this not so well-regarded method of making bubbly wine. Lots of juicy, refreshing raspberries. 7.90 euro