Weinviertel DAC is the largest and most northerly wine region in Austria. The Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) or Viertel unter dem Manhartsberg (“area below the Manhartsberg”) is located in the northeast of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich). It stretches from Vienna and the Danube river in the south to the border with the Czech Republic in the north, from the Marchfeld to the Kamptal, and from the Manhartsberg in the west to the border of Slovakia in the east.
‘This is overwhelmingly Grüner Veltliner country and its wine is light, dry: the very opposite of Burgenland’s potent produce,’ (Hugh Johnson: 1991, p.418). A wealth of other grape varieties are grown too. Reserva wines are labelled Weinviertel DAC Reserve.
Main towns: Ebenthal. | Falkenstein. | Haugsdorf. | Herrnbaumgarten. | Hohenwarth. | Jetzelsdorf. | Klosterneuberg. | Mailberg. | Mannersdorf an der March. | Poysdorf. | Pulkautal. | Retz. | Röschitz. | Schrattenberg. | Staatz. | Wolkersdorf.
Terroir: The Weinviertel region can be divided into three sub-regions based on their geological aspects and climatic conditions: Retz, Pulkautal and Röschitz. A highlight of the western part of Weinviertel is the area around the historic wine-trading town of Retz, with its labyrinth of underground wine cellars. The dry micro-climate here always has favoured red wine making as well. In the Pulkautal – around the villages of Jetzelsdorf and Haugsdorf – and in the extensive Mailberg basin area, Zweigelt and Blauer Portugieser thrive. For lovers of white wine, the anchor point is another “island”, but this one features granite, around Röschitz, where Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grow with a remarkable finesse.
Climate: ‘The Weinviertel is characterized by a Pannonian climate, which means that it is thermally continental but hygrally oceanic. This means hot summers, cold winters and very little rainfall. A rapid change from winter to spring is characteristic for this region. The most, usually heavy, precipitation falls in summer, but long periods of persistent rain are rare. Snowfall in the winters is relatively light. In numerical terms: Annual median temperature from +9 to +10 °C. Duration of sunshine from 1,750 to 1,900 hours per year. Total annual rainfall from 400 to 600 mm. Summer days (max. over 25°C): 55 to 65 per year. Hot days (max. over 30°C): 15 per year. Strong wind days (peak windspeed higher than 60 km/h): 15 to 35 per year,’ says Herbert Zillinger.
Soil, Geology: At the edge of the Waldviertel region, the vines stand upon the acidic granite of the Moravian Superunit which weathers to quartz-rich sand. To the east two basins consisting of unconsolidated rocks occur. These are separated by the ridge of the Leis Mountains and the striking klippes of the Waschberg Zone formed of light-coloured, hard limestone. The central part of the Weinviertel region also has occurrences of the flysch rocks in the south with calcareous sandstones and marls at Bisamberg while acidic, quartz-rich sandstones and shales are more commonly found on the eastern edge of the Korneuburger Basin.
West of the Waschberg Zone are the Molasse sediments with sand, gravel, clayey silts and a remarkable diatom horizon on the one hand and on the other hand the broad gravel ridge of the ancient Danube.
The region east of the Waschberg Zone forms part of the Vienna basin and is also predominantly composed of unconsolidated, mostly calcareous rocks such as gravel, sand and clayey silt. Consolidated limestone or calcareous sandstone only occurs locally in both basins.
More than half of the vineyards are located on loess: the glacial rock dust which can cover all the older rocks in varying thickness and then also provides a source of calcium on acid substrates.
Wine styles: The winemakers in the northeastern part of the Weinviertel, around Poysdorf, focus especially on spicy Veltliners, fresh Welschrieslings and weighty Burgundy wines. The northern border of the Weinviertel, toward Moravia, reveals the limestone cliffs of Staatz and Falkenstein, which have excellent conditions for fruit-toned, minerally wines. Herrnbaumgarten and Schrattenberg, villages to the north of Poysdorf, were predestined for their outstanding red wines thanks to the area’s vineyard basin site. Further south east, along the edge of the Marchfeld around the village of Mannersdorf an der March, the climatic effects of the warm Pannonian climate are felt, which in combination with the Morava river (the Austrian name is ‘March’, referring to the river that flows into the Danube), offer optimal growing conditions for Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, the Pinot varieties, as well as the aromatic Traminer, from dry to luscious dessert wines. After Mannersdorf, the journey back to Vienna passes through the wine-growing town of Wolkersdorf, and great Rieslings with pronounced aromas also grow close to the political boundary with Vienna, on the steep inclines of the Bisamberg hillsides.
Vineyard area: 2015 13,356ha. | 2017 15,800ha.
Wines of Austria.
Giles MacDonogh: Austria, New Wines from the Old World 1997, p.45).