Vievinum is a great national wine event to help the professional wine world get to meet Austrian winemakers and also to get to know their wines. Amateurs can have an equal amount of fun indulging in their own chosen way. What makes it most enjoyable is the setting: a 17th century palace for a backdrop can be quite a distraction, but luckily, for the Austrians, it only further lends to the charm of the event, further strengthening the traditions and values that formed this nation.
I have attended three Vievinums and while a lot has remained reliably similar, a lot has changed too. Here are some observations that I am jotting down after my most recent experience.
- AWMB: Almost sounds like a plug but it isn’t. OK, maybe it is, but it isn’t intended to
be one. AWMB knows how to do it right: from putting on a punctual performance, a well-set array of events and programmes to keep us healthily and intelligently occupied, catering to every possible need of visiting professionals and journalists, and then going that extra bit by organising some gorgeous events with the best of catering, music, and what not. The fact that Wili Klinger behind the piano looks uncannily a lot like Elton John still doesn’t discount his abilities to belt out some great Beatles numbers. On earlier visits, I have played football matches against the winemakers, this time I saw them come together to perform as a band and create music, not just the drinking kind.
- Leithaberg DAC Blaufränkisch: This region is knocking it out of the stadium: such silky wines that South Indian movie sirens seem like fumbling fielders! It is a must try the first chance you get. Up next is the Eisenberg DAC and am sure in times to come they too will shine with their wines based on…hang on now, wht was the DAC grape there. Ah shucks!
- Bio-Dynamic (BD) Wars: First there was Demeter and then Ecocert, and now, we have people who are so tuned into the natural rhythm that they can’t be bothered with formal corporatized certifications. Respekt is one such group that will not be applying
for the above-mentioned two even as they claim to be 100% BD. The others who coughed up the Demeter dough are not too happy and touting how without this one certificate there is no telling just how much BD are the others. Is it enough to skitter around the field in a saffron kaftan and dreadlocks preaching oneness or does one really have to get elbow-deep in cowdung. If this sounds mighty easy obvious to you please don’t go creating your school of BD just yet!
- Fun Wines: Grooner and Zvygelt: These wines were quite the highlight. An American endeavour (or, if it is American, is it endeavor?) to make Austrian wines popular, they launched Groo-Vee and Zvy-Gelt. The labels “screamed” out these easy-to-pronounce versions of the original tongue-warping Grüner Veltliner and Zwygelt grapes. Sensible too. What’s the point of having a wine name that you can’t pronounce without sounding slurred-drunk
after just one glass!? So successful was the launch that the ingenious indigenous wines are now being launched in Austria, to dumb down things for the local vinos! A bit daring and bold a move if you ask me, but hey! The wines
tasted fine – pleasant aromatic and fruity sips with a sense of balance – so I don’t see why they won’t work. They have the quality banderole and are well-made but will Austrians see it as mockery of their heritage, a hit to their national pride, or will the sentiment be a lot more relaxed and take-it-with-a-chuckle types? More on that, next year…but don’t hold your breath on it!
- Summer of Riesling: Keeping the fun element going were Paul and Steve from the Terroir wine bar in NYC. These guys hold some sort of a record for tattooing more women then is possible on a per hour basis at wine fairs. Already ‘wine fairs’ and ‘tattoos’ aren’t the obvious connect but these guys do it. They
are crazy about Riesling and (am sure one of them even screams it during sex) they have compiled a wine list that glamorises this grape for all that it is. It makes wine drinking fun and cool. Steve has the uncanny ability to (A) insult anything within sniper range and (B) making the victim cuddle him like a homeless puppy, and Paul has the undying patience that is required to endure a dozen Steves; luckily for him, there is only one and that one shall never be cloned nor replicated, not at least in the interest of sanity. But if in NYC area this summers, you have to make for a long pit stop there. A separate Q&A with them will follow but for now, this is it.
More in part 2…where I announce some fun fun wine awards I just made up in my head…