Vienna’s unique, off-beat wine culture yields a sort of wine you can’t find anywhere else.
Why This Wine?
Vienna is the only major city in the world that doubles as a wine appellation. Perhaps we should have known that the capital of an empire ruled by wine-obsessed Hapsburgs for a thousand years would have developed a healthy and vibrant wine culture, but Vienna goes a step further with 650 hectares of vineyards on rolling hills just outside the city center. When the Viennese go for walks out in the city parks, they walk amongst working vineyards, and they stop at the iconic Heurigen, wine bars with wineries in the back, or the even more intensive version, the Buschenschank, taverns who can only sell what they produce. The close connection between wine production and customers at the cellar door has led to an unusually vibrant winemaking community in Vienna, with fifty minuscule producers sharing those 650 hectares of vines scattered among dozens of plots. Vienna is also among the most organic wine regions in the world. As notable winemaker Rainer Christ puts it: “It’s no wonder our vineyards are so well cared for. We have 2 million inspectors here.”
About the Winery
Jutta Ambrositsch moved from Sudbergenland to Vienna to pursue a career in graphic design. By 2004, she had a job as art director for a well-known ad agency, but it was clear to her that she was on the wrong path. She wanted to spend more time out of the office, so she turned to winemaking, starting up a micro-winery in 2004, purchasing just a half an acre of Riesling to make a few dozen cases of wine. By 2006, she and her husband Marco Kalchbrenner had started a Buschenschank at the base of vineyard-covered hills, and she had assembled a set of some of Vienna’s very best vineyard plots. Her timing was excellent, as she was one of the first of a new generation of winemakers in Vienna, and there was less competition for vineyards. As an outsider with little background in wine, she still had to win over aging growers with pure sincerity and the promise of hard work. As with many growers in Vienna, Ambrositsch farms organically, and lets her wines ferment naturally. Any reservations growers had about Jutta fell away quickly, because her wines quickly became the talk of the town, and today, Ambrositsch is one of the leading estates in Vienna, if not all of Austria.
The mixed set
Jutta Ambrositch makes a number of wines, and they are all blends in Vienna’s most cherished tradition, the Gemischter Satz. With a wild array of tiny vineyard plots split among so many growers, Vienna’s vineyards are also home to a dizzying number of grape varieties. Some are familiar names like Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Weissburgunder, or Sauvignon Blanc. Some are rarer vines like Brauner and Roter Veltliner, Rieslaner, and so on. It is tradition here to pick them all at the same time and co-ferment them at the winery, so the skill for a winemaker is to choose the right moment to harvest, when both fast and slow ripening grapes will all have something to contribute to the mix. As Jutta puts it: “Gemischter Satz’s shining virtue is its ability to capture vintage and vineyard in multiple dimensions.”
Vienna is a city of about 2 million people, but it has grown around vineyards, which remain in place amidst urban creep, generally around the northern and western rim of the city center. Today, the vineyards are officially protected from development, and growers are given a bonus to convert to organic farming, which nearly all have done.
Jutta cultivates a total of 4 hectares split among 10 plots scattered across Vienna’s hilltops in many of the city’s best sites: Rosengartl, Riesenberg, Sievering, and Bisamberg. Her oldest vines (“I love old vineyards”) date to 1952, and include dozens of varieties. The plots used for the Kosmopolit are Stammersdorf, Sievering, Prussen, Mukenthal, and Plagen
Nose is of tangerine concentrate, wintergreen, granite, petrichor, preserved lemon, petrol, and rosemary. The palate is of lemon and apple juice, with lots and lots of acid, a limestone-ish soil note, pear, and prickly acidity. A vivid and lively wine for Autumnal fare.