Monthly Archives: February 2019

Tripping and Sipping at Loisium Winery

During a Scenic Jasper river cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg, I opted for a visit to Loisium Winery, an architectural wonder located in Melk, a city in lower Austria, next to the Wachau Valley along the Danube. My experience might have been a dream if not for the photographs I took.

The winery reminded me of the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, Southern Australia, but we were in Austria, looking at a winery built by New York architect Steven Holl. I learned that to provide shade for vineyard workers and to keep mosquitoes away, walnut trees were planted.

Vineyards are everywhere in Melk, including vines that grow on ledge rock. Fifty-five percent of vines grown in Wachau Valley produce white wine made from grüner veltliner grapes, followed by Riesling.

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Our tour at Loisium Winery was surreal. I thought maybe I’d consumed a magic mushroom because I couldn’t believe the experience from start to finish. First, our group gathered in what seemed like an underground well, and this is when the water and laser show began, with a voiceover like the Wizard of Oz. I was ready to flee and grab the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom to bring back to this mysterious voice.

From there, we toured through a cave with stops to view elements of the winery’s storied history. We viewed an example of wine’s evolution in comparison to a baby’s feet. There were actually baby’s feet to tickle in an interactive stop before we reached the end of this 900-year-old cave to watch a laser show.

My favorite in the region is the red zweigelt grape. The 2016 Steininger Zweigelt brought forth a bouquet of molded berries and a taste much like a Burgundian red. This wine would be great with a serving of goulash. I fell in love with this wine and purchased a bottle for about $30 and brought it back to the U.S., where I later enjoyed with friends during a dinner party.

A few good reds

Amid the month of romance, it’s a good idea to stock your wine rack with a few good reds. You never know when you’ll want to bring out your inner Cupid, so here are three wines worthy of sharing with that someone special:

#1 – Two Angels Petite Sirah 2016 Vintage, made with grapes grown in the highest vineyards in California, in Lake County’s “Red Hills” appellation for deepened complexity. This dark purple wine offers a bouquet of ripe, dark berries and plums that match the taste with a slow, long, luxurious finish. Enjoy this wine with any dish deemed robust, such as venison, game birds, beef and hard cheeses. $26.99

#2 – Heading Down Under to McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia, the 2014 Block 6 Shiraz is a pleasant change of pace. This deep, crimson wine is 100% shiraz (single vineyard) and a decadent splurge at $119.99. Know this: Block 6 vineyard is on four acres with heavy clay in the middle of the block and gravely alluvial soils on the lower side. Geologically speaking, which is essential in the making of good wine, quartz, ironstone and some silty limestone guide these grapes to their best presentation.

Take your time with a glass of this shiraz. You’ll want to enjoy its seductive aromas of Chinese 5 spice, anise, boysenberry and hint of marzipan before you take that first sip of juicy red fruit. What’s even more interesting is that this wine offers a gentler acidity than most, and a slow buildup of fine, chalky tannin structure. It’s a rich and concentrated mouthfeel with power and finesse. Save this if you have a wine cellar. It’s only going to get better with age. When you’re ready to open a bottle, decant it before you enjoy with hearty meat and game dishes.

#3 – Back in California, in the Sierra Foothills, a blend of 85% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Zinfandel and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon comprises a bottle of 2016 Ironstone Reserve Cabernet Franc ($24.99). This is definitely a soft wine blend, with elegance and richness to enjoy now. Worth noting is that the winery practices sustainable viticulture practices: crop reduction, leaf removal, organic materials and drip irrigation to improve the quality of the grapes and intensify the flavors. Cover crops to attract beneficial insects are also a practice that deems this winery a nod in a Roundup world. If you’re in the mood for chicken Marsala, grab a bottle of this Ironstone Reserve blend and enjoy!

Visit Quintessential Wines for more information.