Niederösterreich or Lower Austria is the north-easternmost of the nine federal states of Austria. A sprawling region, which stretches from the Danube to the Czech border, it was traditionally divided into the Donauland (Danube) region, the Südbahn now re-named Thermenregion, and the Weinviertel (Wine Quarter) region.
Capital city: Since 1986, Niederösterreich’s capital has been its largest city, Sankt Pölten.
Terroir: Niederösterreich lies both north and south of Vienna, and is Austria’s biggest region with over half the nation’s wine (Hugh Johnson: Wine Companion 1991, p.417). A sprawling region, Niederösterreich is traditionally divided into the Donauland (Danube) region, the Südbahn or southern railway out of Vienna (now the Thermenregion), and the Weinviertel or Wine Quarter, which stretches from the Danube north to the Czech border (Hugh Johnson: Wine Companion 1991, p.418).
Geology: Niederösterreich grew out of several major geological units: the Moldanubicum, the Moravic zone, the Molasse basin, the Vienna basin, the Weinviertel hill country, the Flysch zone, the Northern Limestone Alps and the Central Eastern Alps. Quaternary deposits, especially the fine-grained loess and coarse-grained terrace gravels so conducive to viticulture, are spread across all major units.
Loess provides the base material for the deep soil in about half of the vineyards, calcareous-dolomitic in varying proportions. Neogene deposits in the Molasse basin and the Vienna basin support about one third of the vineyards. Apart from locally formed marl and sandstones, conglomerates and Leithakalk, loose rock is dominant here. Compositions vary from argillaceous silt over sand to gravel and pebbles in all conceivable mixtures, and can also differ greatly in terms of their carbonate content.
Just over six per cent of the vineyards grow in soils lying upon the crystalline rock of the Bohemian Massif. Acid gneiss, granite and granulite predominate. Especially in the consistency of the often schistic paragneisses, one encounters frequent alternation between amphibolite beds and less prevalent layers of marble. One special feature is present in the remnants from the initial erosion of the erstwhile high mountains, preserved in the so-called Zöbing formation from the Paleozoic era.
Hugh Johnson, Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion (1991, 3rd edition, Mitchell Beazley).