Monday, December 19, 2011

A Wedding and a Wine Tasting at Schloss Halbturn in Austria

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Markus Sieben, General Manager of Weingut Schloss Halbturn

When I heard that my daughter’s best friend, the Austrian Marie would marry her Australian partner Caleb at Schloss Halbturn in Austria, about an hour east of Vienna, very close to the Hungarian border, I got very excited, because I knew that Schloss Halbturn included a winery, which was producing world class wines.

Picture: Map of the Neusiedler See Wine Region

At Schloss Halbturn, I had the wines of Weingut Schloss Halbturn during the wedding party; I also was able to have a wine tasting with Weingut Schloss Halbturn Managing Director Markus Sieben and a quick winery tour with Torsten Aumueller, who is in charge of Marketing and Export.

During this trip, I also visited and wrote about four other wineries in the area:

Visiting Christine, Christina and Franz Netzl in their Weingut Netzl in Carnuntum, Austria

Visiting Leo Hillinger, Michael Hoeffken and Edgar Brutler at the Leo Hillinger Winery in Jois, Austria

At the Forefront of Biodynamic Winemaking: Visiting Werner and Angela Michlits and their Weingut Meinklang in Austria

The Wines of Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg in Somlo, Hungary

Schloss Halbturn

Schloss Halbturn is the most important baroque building in the Burgenland. It once served as summer residence to the Austrian imperial family. The castle as it stands today was built in 1711 by the famous Baroque architect Lucas von Hildebrandt (1668-1745). It was purchased in 1746 by Stefan, the husband of Maria Theresia (1717-1780), and thus became part of the private property of the Habsburg-Lothringen family. Since then, Schloss Halbturn has remained in the hands of this family.

Pictures: Schloss Halbturn

Today, Schloss Halbturn, which comprises 3000 hectares of land, is owned by the families of Markus Graf zu Koenigsegg-Aulendorf and Max Erbgraf zu Koenigsegg-Aulendorf.

Weingut Schloss Halbturn

Weingut Schloss Halbturn has a long tradition. The beginning of Weingut Schloss Halbturn was in 1214, when Count Poth established the first vineyards in Jois. Another milestone was the planting of 40 hectares of vineyard land around Weingut Schloss Halbturn in 1960 by the then owner Baron Paul Waldbott-Bassenheim. Today, the Weingut Schloss Halbutn vineyard area totals 48 hectares, of which 40 hectares are located in the commune of Halbturn and 8 hectares in the commune of Jois.

90% of the area is planted with the red varieties Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, the remaining 10% is planted with the white varieties Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

In addition, a wine estate with 17 hectares of vineyards has been leased in the commune of Kleinhöflein. Annual production is around 120.000 bottles of wine. Weingut Schloss Halbturn is owned today by the families of Markus Graf zu Koenigsegg-Aulendorf, Max Erbgraf zu Koenigsegg-Aulendorf and Dieter Hoffmann-Unzog.

Restructuring Efforts

In 2001, Markus Graf zu Kœnigsegg initiated a radical restructuring of Weingut Schloss Halbturn. No cost or effort was spared to make Weingut Schloss Halbturn again one of the leading wine producers of the country. Altogether 2/3 of the vineyard land was cleared and replanted. The cellar, too, was rebuilt, and equipped with state-of-the-art technology. A new, international winemaker team was formed that now comprises the French Francois-Xavier Gaboriaud as Winemaker (red varieties) and the German Markus Sieben as Managing Director and Winemaker (white varieties). Torsten Aumueller is in charge of marketing and sales.

The Weingut Schloss Halbturn Wine Portfolio

The wines of Schloss Halbturn are marketed in 3 ranges:

(1) Schloss Halbturn – premium single vineyard wines from single vineyards; the top wines of Schloss Halbturn.

(2) Imperial - below Schloss Halbturn, you find the blends Imperial Weiß (white, Chardonnay with some Sauvignon Blanc), Imperial Rot (red, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Blaufränkisch) and Imperial Cuvée Merietheres (Welschriesling, Riesling).

(3) Koenigsegg - the third range includes a number of varietal red and white wines. These are Weingut Schloss Halbturn’s entry-level wines. Vinificated is either in high-grade-steel ("Classic") or second-filled oak casks ("Premium").

Wining, Dining and Lodging at Schloss Halbturn

We stayed at Hotel Knappenstöckl, which used to be Schloss Halbturn’s residential wing. Each room has a historic décor and a modern bathroom. Some rooms have solid oak floors and a separate living room and bedroom. Restaurant Knappenstöckl offers regional cuisine such as deer and fish.

The Wedding Wines

The wedding ceremony took place at the near-by church and the wedding party at Schloss Halbturn.

Picture: The Wedding Ceremony

Here are the wines we had.

Koenigsegg Brut Rose
Koenigsegg Classic Grüner Veltliner 2010
Koenigsegg Classic Zweigelt 2010

What Markus Sieben Poured

At the day of the wedding in the early afternoon, I was able to have a wine tasting with Schloss Halbturn General Manager Markus Sieben. Markus is also the Schloss Halbturn winemaker for the white wines, which account for 10% of the total production, as stated above.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller Tasting with Markus Sieben

Imperial Weiss 2008

Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, medium yellow-green, oak spice, stone fruits on the nose, fresh and juicy on the palate, with a lively acidity, coupled with mineral tones.

Imperial Rot 2008

Dark ruby-garnet, purple reflexes, mildly spicy, tobacco on the nose, good structure, fine tannins and hints of dark chocolate on the palate, good finish.

Schloss Halbturn Pinot Noir 2008

Ruby garnet, attack of ripe cherries and strawberries on the nose, elegant texture, nicely integrated oak spices on the palate, long finish.

Touring Weingut Schloss Halbturn with Torsten Aumueller
On the Monday morning following the wedding, before going to Somlo in Hungary to meet Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg, Torsten Aumueller provided me with a quick tour of Weingut Schloss Halbturn. He went again into the major restructuring efforts that started in 2001. Torsten emphasized over and over again the high quality standards that have been applied since then, including, inter alia the manual and very selective harvest in the vineyard and the rigorous double sorting of the grapes in the wine cellar before vinification.

Pictures: Touring Weingut Schloss Halbturn with Torsten Aumueller

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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  1. We just returned from Berlin where we tried the Imperial Schloss Halbturn ROT 2007 for the first time and we absolutely LOVED it! Any ideas where can we find this wine in NY area?

  2. I do not know but will try to find out. Cheers. Christian