The big daddy of the Viennese Vigneron Wine Scene, Fritz Wieninger had a plan, it was a good one. Picnic and taste his wines on one of the Alpine foothill vineyards near Vienna. The Nussberg.
As we were preparing to leave his winery, his energetic mother, gone out of her jeep, knee deep in Wellies.
At 7pm, she had come straight from a day in the vines, in fact that Nussberg next destination. Though she wouldn't tell me how old she was, she was certainly less enervated than any 25 -year- old after a day of whipping the vines in shape, under the strong sun.
Turns out that she was the first woman to ever graduate from the local winemaking program studies in 1964! That might make her the first in the world. I'm not sure, but someone give that babe and award. What spirit. What a smile. And I hear she is a slave driver.
We took refuge at forever smiling Stefan Hajszan's snack joint in the middle of the vines. We waited, drinking the 2010 Gemischten Satz and waited.
Best laid plans.
After it was safe to venture out and the fireworks of nature eased off over Vienna in the near distance, we headed off down the mount.
Frit, one of the most generous winemakers I know, promotes his area ahead of his own wines. He is well known for influencing others to go organic, bioD, or Respect (ful). So, he brought me to a Heuriger (the wine equivalent to a beer hall), to taste wines of another maker. It was more complicated than that, but that's what the shorthand.
I won't tell you the name, but I hated the wines. We were next to a loud accordion player, when the very sweet, though perhaps clueless marketer, poured me a sauvignon blanc and asked me what I thought.
I was pissed off by it, offended by it. I turned tables on him and asked what he thought of the wine, as he had gone to winemaking school.
He started on the marketing speak. I stopped him, mid bite into his sausage. And said,
"It's a pandering wine made to a market. Why bother making wine like that. What's the point? This is Vienna, why sauvignon blanc? You're trying to mimic New Zealand and New Zealand is trying to get away from that green bean shit. In fact, why make SB here at all?" Then I said, if he did want to find out the identity of the grape on that soil, take it off it's medication to find its baseline, that was the only way.
It was a moment that I had avoided for the week I was in town. But you push the right button on me, I suppose, I get verbal, acute, and sling the shots. Poor guy. He was sweet and tried to get out of it, but he dug himself in worse. He talked about the careful selection of yeasts, the flavors of the wine that reflect the soil.
"Don't pull that marketing shit on me," I said. Fritz was nodding his head in agreement. But still, I wonder if there wasn't a better way.
I was in Austria as the guest of the Austrian Wine people, and even though he wasn't there, I had a feeling that this was the reason that Willi Klinger asked me to come over.
The night was salvaged with the increasingly better wines of Stefan (at his all organic heuriger on Grinzingerstrasse,) and those of Fritz.
Vienna is an interesting area. The fine hills are riddled with chemical farming, and then there are the ones that Fritz has nudged into happiness. I'll be watching this place for sure.