There are many reasons to love Vienna. Art, music, architecture, Christmas markets and, of course, cake, might come immediately to mind but did you know that Vienna has the largest vineyards within its city limits in the world? Around 400 individual vineyards produce around 20,000 hectolitres a year and we’re here today to explore one such gem, Schloss Gobelsburg.
Schloss Gobelsburg – The Terroir
With individual microclimates surrounding the central castle, Schloss Gobelsburg has the advantage of distinct soil conditions suited to a variety of grapes. Best known for their Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, Heiligenstein and Gaisberg provide rocky terraces ideal for the latter, while the Grüner Veltliner shines in the loosely compacted and sandy terroir. Besides the two main grapes, the team at Schloss Gobelsburg also grows small crops of Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent and Merlot. We’re fortunate today to have the cellar opened just for us (it’s Christmas and the winery is usually closed until after the new year). And, we’re even more lucky to have Peter, father of Eva Moosbrugger and father-in-law to CEO Michael Moosbrugger, give us a personal tour and tasting.
The castle at the heart of the vineyards of Schloss Gobelsburg has an incredible history reaching back to 1074! Moosbrugger and Bründlmayer took over in 1996 and have since continued the tradition of the monks, with “simplicity and strength” forming their core philosophy in winemaking.
Rather than attempting to produce a wine that is uniform in taste, the team at Schloss Gobelsburg aim to express the individuality of each grape and season. They liken it to, “the wine and the sun shaping the face and expression of the farmer’s face, so authentic wine is a reflection of the soil, the rain, the sun and the wine.”
Further contributing to the development of unique character is the use of Austrian wood from Manhartsberg instead of the typical French or American oak. With the barrels experiencing a similar climate to the vineyards, they mirror the conditions of the grapes that they store.
Our tastings focus on the majority of the production, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, from the Classics, Village and Single Vineyards ranges.
Schloss Gobelsburg Classics
2017 URGESTEIN Riesling & 2017 Löss Grüner Veltliner
Wines in the Classics collection hold a picturesque label of the castle, church and surrounding countryside. Representing the historical foundations of the winery, the picture is original lithography from 1840. The 2017 URGESTEIN Riesling from this range is crisp and aromatic and meant to be drunk young. It’s ideal with trout or simply seasoned clear water fish. The 2017 LÖSS Grüner Veltliner is an entry-level wine, fresh and crisp and often used in the famous Austrian spritzer in the summer. Pour three parts chilled GV in a glass, top it up with one part chilled soda or sparkling water and add a slice of citrus and you have yourself an authentic Viennese way to cool off in warm weather.
Schloss Gobelsburg Single Vineyard, Village and Specialities
Premium wines, such as those from single vineyards, carry the Schloss Gobelsburg label featuring an aerial perspective over the castle. The nuances of the Danube region Kamptal and specialities including the Brut Reserve, Pinot Noir and sweet wines are celebrated with this series.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg LANGENLOIS Grüner Veltliner
It turns out that our guide Peter is quite the gastronome and we delight in hearing stories of the history of Austrian cuisine such as how the current recipe for the Wiener schnitzel came to be. Our first village wine, the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg LANGENLOIS Grüner Veltliner, with its crisp acidity is not only a recommended pairing for the schnitzel but also a popular drink for pre-dinner snacks.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg ZÖBING Riesling
Another village wine, the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg ZÖBING Riesling, comes from the primary rock and Permian soil from the small town of Zöbing at the foot of the table top mountain. It offers a greater fullness in the mouth than the Urgestein Riesling and can handle a fish a bit richer in flavour. Arctic char, which resembles salmon in appearance and is native to Alpine lakes, is a fine match.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried STEINSETZ Grüner Veltliner
We can see the vineyards of the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried STEINSETZ Grüner Veltliner from the window of our tasting room just south of the castle. The traces of minerality in the profile are a result of the Alpine gravel brought by an old pathway of the Danube. What is particularly interesting about this wine is that it actually pairs well with asparagus: known to be one of the most difficult foods to match with wine. Other veggies do well with this GV too along with lightly seasoned white fish.
OTW Erste Lage
The following wines are rather special in Austria as they are part of the first vineyard classification system in the Danube region. Founded in 1992 the Association of Austrian Traditional Wine Estates set forth to classify the “outstanding vineyard sites of the Danube region.” As of 2018, there are 72 vineyards that carry the ÖTW Erste Lage mark on their label and the team at Schloss Gobelsburg is proud to have five sites with the classification. Only traditional grapes of the Danube can be used for these wines and they must be vinified in a dry style.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried RENNER (ÖTW Erste Lage) I Kamptal Grüner Veltliner
Peter shares that his family’s recipe of stuffed veal breast (made with cream, milk, shallots, parsley and bread stuffing) is a must for the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried RENNER (ÖTW Erste Lage) I Kamptal Grüner Veltliner. Seafood risotto is said to be another delicious mate for this wine that is grown in soil composed of calcareous sandy silt and crystalline rocks.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried GRUB (ÖTW Erste Lage) I Kamptal Grüner Veltliner
One of my favourites of the tasting, the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried GRUB (ÖTW Erste Lage) I Kamptal Grüner Veltliner comes from a plot protected from the wind on three sides, open only to the south-west. The grapes grow in calcareous soil with a loamy consistency and occasional gravelly components. The bouquet is intensely aromatic and I find it a little creamy in the finish. Is it by chance that my most preferred wine also goes well with mildly spicy Asian dishes?
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried LAMM (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Grüner Veltliner
The next wine, the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried LAMM (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Grüner Veltliner, comes from a neighbouring site to Grub and is one of the warmest sites in the classification. Situated on the south-eastern slope of the Heiligenstein mountains, this land again is calcareous and loamy but distinguished in the higher part by little or no lime close to the surface. After the Grub, the Lamm is my next most-liked. I’m not the only one to rate this one highly as James Suckling has it listed in the top 100 Austrian wines of 2018 with a score of 95. Not bad.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried GAISBERG (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Riesling
A Celtic word, Gaisberg, means “goat mountain” and this plot of land is up to 330 metres above sea level. It features a steep east-facing slope and gentle decline towards the south with soil developed from “paragneiss, mica schist and amphibolite bedrock” in the upper part and the southern foot is “rich in humus over a layer of loess.” The 2017Schloss Gobelsburg Ried GAISBERG (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Riesling has also received recognition from the experts with Wine Advocate donning it a rating of 94 and James Suckling a 93. It too offers a concentrated bouquet and manages to balance fullness with elegance rounding out to a long lingering end with a hint of spice.
2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried HEILIGENSTEIN (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Riesling
The site of the vineyard for our final tasting, the 2017 Schloss Gobelsburg Ried HEILIGENSTEIN (ÖTW Erste Lage) | Kamptal Riesling, is especially interesting as the reddish-brown sandstone, coarse conglomerates and minor siltstone were formed between 250 – 280 million years ago with some of the rocks containing fossilized plants! This one has gained the attention of Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator Insider and James Suckling with respective scores of 94, 93 and 95. Golden yellow in the glass, it has a fruity bouquet with a whisper of spice. It offers multiple layers of complexity in the mouth and rolls out to a respectable finish with reminders of the soil from which it was born.
Reasons to drink Schloss Gobelsburg wines: fine examples of the potential of Austrian wines, particularly Riesling and Grüner Veltliner from their most innocent interpretations all the way through to the most complex; my personal favourites were the two from neighbouring plots, the Grub and the Lamm.