Austrian wine country? Yea wasn’t top of my list either! But there are so many gems to discover in this charming country. The wines are bright and fresh, the winemakers are passionate about working hard to showcase their remarkable terroir and the countryside is stunningly beautiful.
Just thirty minutes north of Vienna, in the town of Stetten, is the Weingut Pfaffl, where second generation Heidi and her brother Roman have taken over their family’s winery. What began as a simple farm with just 2 acres of vines, Pfaffl has grown into more than 270 acres, covering different soil types and microclimates that make it possible to produce several different styles of wine. Founded in 1978 by Roman Sr., affectionately known as Mr. Veltliner due to his pioneering role in popularizing the Grüner Veltliner grape variety, the family was awarded the ultimate award when named European Winery of the Year in 2016 by Wine Enthusiast.
The accolades continued in 2017, when German gourmet magazine “Selection” named Pfaffl the “Austrian Winery of the Year”. Well deserved, these wines are absolutely delicious. I spent an afternoon with Heidi, who runs all aspects of sales and marketing while Roman is in charge of viticulture and winemaking. She walked us through their extensive collection of wines, there are currently 25 wines on offer! We tasted through her favorite 14, it was a tough job but I narrowed down my favorites to the below.
Weinviertel DAC Reserve HUND Grüner Veltliner
“Weinviertel DAC Reserve” is a quality control standard, ensuring any Grüner with this label is a true expression of the variety: peppery, crisp, and fruity. Made from grapes grown on the oldest vineyard in the family, this exemplary expression of Grüner Veltliner is full of power: fruit, that signature “Pfaffl” pepper, orange blossom and underlying minerality.
Chardonnay Grand Reserve Rossern
While Chardonnay may not be the most widely planted grape in Austria, Roman knows what to do with this grape! The wine is aged for an entire year on the lees, or yeast cells, stirred weekly to maintain contact. Combined with 18 months in 100% new oak gives this wine a rich, creaminess that is happiness in a glass! This is Heidi’s favorite wine for sipping in front of a fireplace, I couldn’t agree more!
St. Laurent WALD
While the wine regions north of Vienna tend to focus on white wines, they do have the ability to produce outstanding reds. St. Laurent is known as “Austria’s rare, red, wine grape treasure”, a highly aromatic, dark-skinned grape believed to be a cross of Pinot Noir with an unknown variety. The grape is known to ripen early, so to ensure even ripening, the Pfaffl’s planted their St. Laurent next to a forest. The result: juicy layers of plum and spice.