Austria's Thermenregion, the Zierfandler Grape and Stadlmann

Posted by CrushWine

The Thermenregion is south of Vienna - really just on the city's outskirts. The name refers to the thermal springs that abound in the area.

Zierfandler is an indigenous grape grown in the tiny region and basically nowhere else. The Mandel-Höh vineyard is the grape's favorite spot on earth - Stadlmann's bottling represents the most noble expression of Zierfandler, from the kind of vintage that only comes around every decade or so.

The Zierfandler in the Mandel-Höh vineyard is roughly 45 years old and the gem of the estate. The grapes are harvested with great care and fermented in large old wooden barrels. Fermentation takes about two weeks, though the wine is left to settle for an additional 8 months before it is bottled.

The Stadlmann winery was founded in the late 18th century and is one of the region's best. The passionate Monica Caha imports the wine and has been a tireless enthusiast for the great wines of Austria - we're thankful to count her as our great friend. As for the Stadlmanns, the winery is is currently run by the seventh generation - Johann Stadlmann - and the wines must be counted as amongst the best of this little-known region.

I wrote in my "Wine of the Year" email that "Stadlmann is too small a producer (less than 200 cases of this wine make it to the US) and the Zierfandler grape too esoteric to ever be welcomed into the mainstream."

Well - I happily stand corrected, though I think the fact that this wine is showing up at all on the national radar is simply a testament to the quality of the wine, and honestly the rigor of Schildknecht's scholariship, which I very much admire.