Wine Border Regions – Austria & Slovenia (Styria / Štajerska)
1st December 2020
I must admit that I am yet to visit Austria with a wine tasting agenda and it is some years since I was there and enjoying the pleasantries of the Tyrol region on a week long break by coach leaving from Victoria station in London – I am sure we (myself along with Eve our Editor) booked that holiday via Ceefax). Though I am very aware of the splendid lifestyle this country holds and have experienced much of their traditional cuisine and wines and just last year I placed a few footsteps in Austria as I was visiting the north eastern region of Slovenia, Štajerska. I feel excited that I still have a lot of fabulous experiences that I’m yet to discover.
As mentioned, it was only recently that I was exploring the wine region of Štajerska which holds a magical wine tourism experience and especially for those who love traditional cooking and hearty meals. It is merely only a few km’s that separate the wineries of this region of Slovenia with that of the Styria region (also known as the Steiermark region) of Austria.
At the time of my visit, 2019, the borders were quite relaxed and a walk over a bridge on the River Mur took me from Slovenia to Austria and though no changes visually were apparent, I was leaving also one wine region and entering another, I was going from Vinska Klet’s to Weingut’s.
Both Austria and Slovenia will not currently be battling at the centre stage in the world of wine. Both Austria and Slovenia, though in amongst to and adjoining some of the greatest wine countries and regions, are certainly still very much in the zone of emerging markets with great potential. The wine industry is a tough one with market leaders that many will say are hard to compete against in both quality and brand awareness. Many will say that once we leave the Champagne region, for sparkling wine, then we are only heading downwards. “This is both true and not true in my mind.“.
If we now add Covid-19 restrictions and how governments globally have seemed to have targeted and brought down much of the tourism and hospitality sectors, the wine industry needs us more than any other time to support sales and awareness.
So today, as the second article in this new series of ‘Wine Border Regions’, I wanted to take a look at one that sees wineries only a short drive away from each other where you can visit vineyards in two different countries in a single day. The Styria (Austria) and Štajerska (Slovenia) regions have a wide selection of wineries to be visited and both offer great a driving experience and very natural landscape – “It felt very Alpine fresh to me whilst I enjoyed this region“.
Styria (Austria) and Štajerska (Slovenia):
The Glass of Bubbly Awards 2020 saw a great number of entries both from Austria and Slovenia so a focus on this article would be two wineries from each region that have received medals. We wanted to take a look at any similarity between the wines and if the terroir can be expressed via them.
Initially, we picked two wines that are located only 39.4km from each other (Google Map), that crosses the border and both these wines picked up a gold medal in the category of ‘Oaky & Toasty’.
House of Wine Doppler – Diona Brut Nature 2010 – Slovenia: “This wine is wonderful, it really impressed me and was ever so suitable for the category that it won a gold medal in – ‘Oaky & Toasty’. I am pleased to have met the owner when I was in Slovenia and to have congratulated her on this wine. It is full of toasty and burnt oak aromas with subtle ripe golden fruits. The flavours are very much similar with toasty characters.” Visit the House of Doppler website here.
“The Doppler Wine House is located at 380 meters above sea level and 9 hectares, where your heart will open when you reach the top.” House of Wine Doppler
Harkamp – Brut Reserve – Austria: “The Harkamp is a perfect example of ‘Oaky & Toasty’ in its character. Reminds me of the Diona Brut Nature 2010 from Doppler winery in Slovenia. It emits a great oaky and fresh yellow / white fruit aroma.” Visit the Harkamp website here.
“Respecting nature, allowing the vine and its grapes to express their character, that is our philosophy.” Harkamp Winery
Maribor, where House of Wine Doppler is located also boasts the oldest vine in the world which is a tourist attraction offering a museum and tastings within the building that it is planted outside of. The 400 year old vine is featured in the Guinness Book of Records.
The next two wineries and wines we will look takes us on another cross border journey of 40.6 km (Google Map). Radgonske Gorice is quite literally a stone’s throw away from the border of Slovenia sitting adjacent to the River Mur and with an impressive winery to visit and enjoy with future plans for accommodation. Radgonske Gorice is possibly the biggest producer of sparkling wines in Slovenia with a wide selection of labels to choose from.
Radgonske Gorice are also innovators and this is recently shown by the release of their unique label ‘Untouched By Light’ which sees a sparkling wine that is quite simply protected from light from picking of grapes to packaging. We decided to add this Gold Medal winning bubbly to this tasting.
Just a fifty minute drive away and crossing the border from Slovenia to Austria via the Zollbrücke Mureck (bridge over the River Mur) we get to Skoff Original winery. Recognised and awarded for it’s Sauvignon Blanc wines we decided to taste their Brut Reserve which received a Bronze Medal at the 2020 Glass of Bubbly Awards in the category of ‘First Date’.
Radgonske Gorice – Untouched By Light – Slovenia: “First of all it is a new experience for me to see a bottle of wine shrink-wrapped and looking like it is an object d’art over something containing fizzy wine. Of course, it is all about being untouched by light so to be expected that the winemaker is wanting light only to affect your tasting experience when it has been poured (unless you opt for black glasses that is). It is fresh and fruity though with a subtle creamy edge. Young and refreshing, soft floral, yellow fruits and decent acidity with apricot / peach skin experienced at the close.”
Skoff Original – Sauvignon Blanc Reserve – Austria: “Green fruits, grassy, a touch of honeysuckle on the nose. Refreshing in style with soft citrus notes, subtle passion fruit and a pleasing dry savoury pastry finish.“
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.