Leithaberg’s limestone and schist rock vineyards rise to about 300 metres above the glistening Neusiedlersee. From these cool elevated sites you can spy on Hungary on a clear day and view the extent of the Leithaberg D.A.C. from Jois to the north of the lake to Morbisch and Zagersdorf in the south. By the way, D.A.C. stands for ‘Districtus Austriae Controllatus’, Austria’s status for special region-typical Quality Wines.
If you looking for a little musical history whilst sipping these Austrian reds, you can pop into the majestic church nestling in the vineyards overlooking the lake where Franz Joseph Haydn famously composed and tickled the ivories for many years, no doubt inspired by the local reds.
The Leithaberg vineyards are also well suited to white wines and for those who’d prefer a rich white look out for Grüner Veltliner, the variety that’s making a name for itself and lifting Austria’s reputation as it goes. The other white varieties that are allowed to carry the Leithaberg D.A.C. label are Pinot Blanc (known as Weissburgunder in Austria), our old mate Chardonnay and the little known variety, Neuburger.
For the wine tourist there’s far more to Leithaberg than its wines as its long been a favourite with visitors who flock to the region each year to enjoy the impressive Schloss Esterhazy castle in Eisenstadt and the wine enriched lakeside music festivals at Morbisch and Sankt Margarethen.
It’s rumoured that Joseph Haydn enjoyed dining out and brought a few cases of Leithaberg wines to enjoy during his time in London in the 1790’s. I’m not sure which ‘weinguts’ (Austrian for ‘winery’) he supported with his schillings but if he was composing today I think he’d be really happy with Weinguts Tinhof, Prieler, Nittnaus, Altenbuger, Birgit Braunstein, Hartl, Nehmer, Kaiser and Bayer Erbhof.
John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer,cspeaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John’s website at www.johndownes.com. Follow him on Twitter @JOHNDOWNESMW