Burgenland

This flat, quintessentially Middle European region is almost as Hungarian in spirit and landscape as it is Austrian, and produces almost all of Austria's great sweet white wines and most of the best red.

Neusiedlersee is the most important sweet white wine district, named after the large, shallow lake that dominates it (although so flat is the landscape that visitors have to climb towers to see the lake beyond the reeds). This large body of water is partly responsible for reliable, annual noble rot infections that shrivel the grapes, concentrating the sweetness, and making wines rich enough to qualify as Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen (see below), rivals to great Sauternes. The fact that many of the best vineyards are surrounded by land designated as a bird sanctuary makes life particularly difficult for growers such as Angerhof-Tschida, Kracher, Nittnaus, Velich, Willi Opitz, Stiegelmar and Umathum, who grow an unusually wide variety of grapes including Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Traminer, Scheurebe, Chardonnay and Welschriesling, which performs particularly well here. Producers such as Gernot Heinrich have shown that Neusiedlersee can produce rich, spicy reds as well as sweet whites.

Neusiedlersee-Hügelland is on the western shore of the lake and produces similar wines to Neusiedlersee. The historic local speciality is Ausbruch wine, made in the postcard-pretty village of Rust. Feiler-Artinger, Kollwentz, Ernst Triebaumer and Heidi Schröck are particularly widely admired.

Further back from the lake in the lee of the Leithagebirge hills lies the relatively new Leithaberg DAC, which is increasingly known for its plump-fruited, mineral red wines from producers such as Kloster am Spitz and Birgit Braunstein.

Mittelburgenland is celebrated as Austria's red wine district, where hot summers help to ripen such grapes as the lively central European Blaufränkisch especially, plus Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Austrian specialities Zweigelt and the Pinot-like St. Laurent. Producers such as Gesellmann and the late Hans Igler have shown that Austrian winemakers are capable of producing ambitious, deep-coloured, well-structured red wines too, though some have been tempted to use too much new oak. In 2005 Mittelburgenland DAC was created for the typical Blaufränkisch wines of this region.

Südburgenland is best known for refreshing red Blaufränkisch with the iron-rich soils of Eisenberg DAC producing one of Südburgenland’s relatively few wine specialities. Good producers include Krutzler and Uwe Schiefer. 

In a nutshell

Serious reds and sweet whites.

Main grapes