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Winery #83: Hammer Wein (Rust, Austria)

Driving southeast of Vienna, we arrived to our next wine destination at Hammer Wein in the city of Rust. Besides its amazing wine scene, Rust hosts 22 pairs of storks throughout the city. You can find the live stork nest camera here!

Our host for the wine experience, Markus Hammer, greeted us upon our arrival to the winery and escorted us the tasting room to give us an overview of the winery. We had the opportunity to meet his partner Birgit who also coordinates wine experiences. Markus is a second generation wine producer with his parents originally starting to produce wine in the 1980s. Passionate about biodiversity and organic farming, Markus immediately made the switch to fully Certified Organic wine production when he took over the family business in 2014.

Markus led us on a tour of the production facilities towards the rear of the building complex. We were able to see his set-up of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the oak barrels he uses to mature some of the wines he produces. Markus allows the natural yeasts from the grape skins and the winery to start the fermentation process rather than relying on yeast from commercial laboratories.

During our experience, our host explained the unique climate conditions that exist in the Rust area. The town of Rust and its surrounding vineyards are located on the west coast of Neusiedlersee (or Lake Neusiedl, “see” means “lake” in German). The lake is fairly large covering 315 kilometers (122 square miles), but very shallow at a maximum of 1.8 meters (5 feet 11 inches). That probably explains why we didn’t see many boats on the lake! The lake’s early morning fog and humidity that burns off with the afternoon sun provides optimal conditions for a unique fungus to thrive: Botrytis cinerea. Also known as Nobel Rot, Botrytis infects the grape’s skin causing small holes to develop. Water from the grape drains through these holes and evaporates with the afternoon sun, concentrating the grape’s sugars, acids, and flavors. When using these grapes to produce wine, the result is an extremely sweet, luscious, and full-bodied wine.

Back in the tasting room, Markus provided us with 17 wines representative of Hammer Wein’s range of production. Our favorite from the line-up was the 2013 Chardonnay Ausbruch, and as you probably can guess, its produced with grapes affected by Botrytis. The Chardonnay grapes were harvested in 2013, and based upon the extremely high sugar content of the grapes, also measured as must weight, wineries around Rust call the wine Ausbruch. Ausbruch is the same as Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA), which we will cover with greater depth in our next Blog Post along with must weights. I’m sure you’re not going to be able to sleep tonight due to the anticipation!! Taking notes while tasting the 2013 Chardonnay Ausbruch, I wrote one word next to the wine’s name: “Wow!!!” The wine showed the unique honey aroma and flavor associated with wines made from botrytized grapes in addition to peach and pineapple. From the last 19 years in the bottle, a hint of petrol developed giving the wine even more complexity. The wine's finesse on the palate was incredible. As value-oriented wine consumers, we can honestly say this wine exhibits fantastic quality for the money!

Check out the YouTube Video of our experience here!

Experience Rating: 3 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 1 Paw Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Production Facilities Tour, Standing Bar Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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