South east of Vienna is the district known as Carnuntum with 890 hectares of vines. It stretches across until it reaches the border with Slovakia. To the north is the much larger region of Weinviertel and to the south the regions of Neusiedlersee and Neusiedlersee-Hügelland.
Less than an hour out of Vienna there are 910 hectares of vines. Big reds and fascinating whites. A historic region with strong Roman ancestry where winemaking has taken place for centuries.
Deep soils, cooling winds from the Danube plains and the tempering influence of the lake, combine to produce a climate ideal for the cultivation of Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. It is these latter red wines in particular for which Carnuntum is rapidly becoming known. Monumental Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, bursting with fruit and ripe tannins, plus quality Cabernet Sauvignon, make this a region to be watched.
Carnuntum is known for its rolling hills including the Leitha Mountains, the Hainburger Hills and the Arbesthaler Hügelland (hill country – the area between the plains and the mountains). Stony, heavy soils with sand, clay and gravel make ideal conditions for growing red wine varieties, especially Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Grapes grown on Mount Spitzer are considered the very best. Because there is the Danube River roughly defining the border with Weinviertel to the north and Lake Neusiedl to the south, the hot summers and cold winters are less damaging, as these bodies of water act to control the temperature. Thanks to this geographical blessing, the red grapes are able to mature to full ripeness and allow the winemakers to produce the stunning wines for which the region is rightly famous.
Deep soils, cooling winds from the Danube plains, and the tempering influence of the lake combine to produce a climate ideal for the cultivation of Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch.
It is these latter red wines in particular for which Carnuntum is rapidly becoming known. Monumental Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, bursting with fruit and ripe tannins, plus quality Cabernet Sauvignon, make this a region to be watched.
However, Carnuntum is not just about the big red wines. There are also some superb Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris produced here and, perhaps the most fascinating of all, Gemischter Satz. This is not an obscure grape variety but a fascinating winemaking method that seems very strange today despite the fact that it was, more or less, the universal method for making wine in the past. We have become so used to single variety wines that we may have lost sight of the past and some excellent traditions. Gemischter Satz (or "mixed set" in German) must be a blend of at least three grapes, but up to 15 varieties are allowed (even if in "homeopathic amounts," as described by Rainer Christ). The grapes are harvested and vinified together with some fermentation in stainless steel and, although some is done in wooden barrels, Gemischter Satz rarely has any more than subtle wood notes. It creates a different wine every year but is always very complex but hugely drinkable and very food-friendly.
Netzl Zweigelt Classic 2012
It is a lovely deep ruby colour and the nose is almost physically chewable with lingering black fruits, combining with sweet tones of treacle, caramel and a hint of stewed prunes in the background. Absolutely gorgeous. On tasting it is a surprise to find that it is much lighter in the body than the nose suggests, but this is far from a problem as flavours of black fruits, especially cherry, come through with hints of plum in the background. The length of this wine is astonishing. It keeps on and on giving more and more pleasure.
Netzl Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, 2004
Deep ruby red with a nose of dried fruit, vanilla and spice. On the palate there are dark berry fruit flavours, cassis, coffee, vanilla and spice, all elegantly interwoven and supported by a soft tannic backbone. Very smooth and a big wine.
Netzl Anna Christina 2006
50% Zweigelt, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. This is another stunner from the Netzls. A huge wine which has a dark ruby red colour with a powerful nose of spice and dark fruit. On the palate there is huge concentration of fruit flavours, with spice, plum, cinnamon and chocolate all putting in an appearance. Huge length, long spicy finish.
Weingut Markowitsch Rubin Carnuntum 2010
100% Zweigelt. Deep ruby, intense nose of cherries and dark berries, soft and full on the palate with a gentle chocolate flavour and a long finish.
Weingut Markowitsch Carnuntum Cuvée 2009
80% Zweigelt with the rest made up from Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch and Roesler. Ruby red with a purple rim, the fragrance is reminiscent of cherries and spices, with a light roasted flavour which is soft and elegant on the palate.