By Fiona Sims
pic: The 'buschenschank' at Mayer am Pffarrplatz where the Viennese hang out on Sundays in the summer
Gemischter Satz. Try saying that after you’ve had a few (Ger-mish-ter Satz). Don’t know what it is? It’s a dry white wine made from various white grape varieties that are planted together, harvested together and fermented into wine together. Where’s it from? Austria - though Vienna makes the best. Why the fuss? It’s now starring in trendy wine bars from Hackney to Haight-Ashbury.
Gemischter Satz was considered plonk up until a decade ago, when a bunch of smart young Austrian winemakers decided that it had great potential. Now Gemischter Satz makes up the majority of production in the Vienna wine region, usurping fashionable favourite Grüner Veltliner, with a growing number gaining international recognition.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Austrian wine is on a roll. Its increasingly exciting winemakers are feted around the world in top restaurants and bars, with wines from regions in Lower Austria, such as the Wachau, and in Burgenland to the south, topping the wish list for its global fans.
Not that Austria exports that much wine. No, they’re having way too much fun drinking it themselves, which is particularly evident in Vienna, which has a significant wine region right here within the city limits – the world’s biggest, in fact.
There are 276 producers working nearly 600 hectares of vineyards all within sight of the Stephansdom, Vienna’s iconic gaily roof-tiled cathedral - and they’ve been doing this since forever. Vines were growing within the city walls in what is today’s 1st district right up until the late Middle Ages.
pic: Gerhard Lobner at Mayer am Pfaffplatz
“The Nussberg is the biggest vineyard area in the Vienna wine region, half the wine producers in Vienna are here,” explains Gerhard Lobner of Weingut Mayer am Pfarrplatz, a member of the small but extremely influential group of winemakers called WienWein.
Founded in 2006, the WienWein Group have been transforming the image of Gemischter Satz by making and promoting the best of these field blend wines from Vienna’s top vineyard sites.
They were so successful that in 2013 Wiener Gemischter Satz became Austria’s ninth official DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus), which demands that at least three white grape varieties must be used in the blend, while up to twenty varieties are permitted to be planted and cultivated together, the most important of which include Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Chardonnay.
Another big plus, the group also recently successfully lobbied the government to save vineyards from the clutches of developers, who had been eyeing up the valuable land for housing – Vienna was voted by Mercer the world’s most livable city for the seventh year in a row.
Five of the best Gemischter Satz
2015 Edlmoser Gemischter Satz Maurerberg
Based in the wine village of Mauer in the south of Vienna, the Edlmoser family boasts a winemaking history that dates back to 1374, edlmoser.com
2015 Weingut Christ Bisamberg Gemischter Satz
2015 Mayer am Pfarrplatz Gemischter Satz
2015 Wieninger Gemischter Satz Nussberg
2015 Jutta Ambrositsch Gemischter Satz ‘Satellit’
For more information about Austrian wine go to austrianwine.com
It’s difficult. We sympathise. Despite being an entirely different shape and size we have an uncanny ability to turn up in the same outfit (usually black) and order the same dishes. We both wear glasses, swathe ourselves in scarves and fancy Daniel Craig.
This is the page where we share our current enthusiasms at a greater length than the 140 characters we're allowed on Twitter but more briefly than we burble away about them on our blog.
Where we talk about where we've been, the people we've seen and the things we're excited about right now.
© 2015 Fiona Beckett & Fiona Sims (the2fionas.com), photography © Gary Latham, website by Scend