in Austria the magic of the Wachau Valley

Each November 11 in Mautern, on the Nikolaihof property, a mass is held within the candlelit cellars. “It is very important thanks for the whole lot that’s given to us”, Christine Saahs insists. Her husband’s household purchased this property in 1894, one of the crucial necessary in Austria’s Wachau Valley.

Right this moment, the eldest son manages the vineyards and cellars, the second affords a variety of natural grape cosmetics. However at Nikolaihof we nonetheless do not mess with God or with traditions and a job effectively carried out.

«Ici, concludes Christine Saahs, a mom who can be the writer of three books of native recipes, we’ve been working for 5 generations below the patronage of St. Nicholas, St. Seweryn and St. Agapita. And we stay in Roman ruins. » The cellars the place the wines mature in spectacular oak barrels had been created within the cellars of a primitive church in-built Roman occasions.

This two-thousand-year historical past doesn’t stop the 22-hectare property from changing into a part of modernity: it’s biodynamically managed; and for extensively exported wines, offered on-line, in retailers and eating places, which open in the summertime below the shade of an enormous linden tree, the pursuit of high quality is a continuing requirement. It justifies usually fairly excessive costs, but additionally quite a few prizes.

So in 2002, Robert Parker, writer of reference wine guides, awarded 100 factors (out of 100) to the property’s Riesling. “It was the primary Austrian dry white to realize this ranking. There was a rush instantly. We offered the whole lot in half an hour! It gave us credibility after we had been criticized for switching to biodynamics “, says Marlene Bergkirchner, who runs tastings at Nikolaihof, that she is going to quickly should resolve whether or not she and her brother will take over the household property, which, though smaller, nonetheless sacrifices two emblematic Wachau productions: apricot and wine.

Birthplace of Austria

Positioned about 80 km west of Vienna and partially categorized by UNESCO since 2000, this valley crossed by the Danube stretches 36 kilometers between the picturesque cities of Krems and Melk. Following the gracefully undulating river, it is likely one of the most stunning in Europe, with terraced hills and planted with vines, and numerous orchards effectively uncovered to the solar.

→ ANALYSIS. Austria, world champion in natural manufacturing

Agriculture will not be the one wealth of the Wachau. This area can be the birthplace of Austria. Lengthy earlier than the Habsburgs, the Babenbergs based their dynasty right here – from 976 to 1246 – establishing for a time their residence in Melk, on the positioning of the previous Roman camp. And simply upstream from this valley Chanson des Nibelungen which has been hydrating from 13to me century tradition of the Germanic international locations.

This medieval epic – fragments discovered within the library of Melk Abbey – impressed him Tetralogy to Wagner. It tells concerning the adventures of the courageous Siegfried and the fantastic rides of King Gunther of Burgundy.

Wachau, which as soon as noticed so many invaders and retailers, in the present day attracts with its romanticism. The majestic Danube has loads to do with it. There are bicycle paths on its shores. The cruises assist you to admire its landscapes steeped in lots of tales, such because the one with the English king Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned for a very long time in Dürnstein.

From the hill, the ruins of a medieval fort nonetheless watch over this huge city with picturesque homes and an abbey based in 1410: the blue church tower is now one of many symbols of the area. However on the primary road, the apricot retailers now adjoin the wine bar.

Romans, then monks

It was the Romans who introduced the vines to the shores of the Danube and its tributaries. Later the monks, inspired by “Now and work” (“Pray and work”) The foundations of St. Benedict, they introduced this tradition to perfection. See the spectacular Benedictine abbeys of Göttweig and Melk.

Also known as “Austrian Monte Cassino”, Göttweig might be seen from a distance because it crowns a hill coated with vineyards and forests. Established in 1083, it was rebuilt after a fireplace within the seventeenth centuryto me century, therefore its late baroque type and monumental imperial stairs adorned with frescoes by Paul Troger.

As for Melk Abbey, it impresses with its ocher-colored façade, 1,365 home windows, 497 rooms, 2.2 hectares of roofs, a cheeky Danube terrace, the treasures of the prelates’ court docket, the marble corridor, the emperor’s gallery, his abbey church, museum, library and naturally admirable frescoes by the identical Paul Troger.

Whereas these architectural splendors appeal to numerous guests (over 1,000,000 yearly in Melk), these abbeys nonetheless inhabited by monks (35 in Göttweig, 25 in Melk) stay trustworthy to their vocation and multiply the supply of religious hospitality. They usually each nonetheless take satisfaction in seeing their lands produce excellent nectars.

→ ARCHIVE. Natural farming is gaining floor in Austria

The white wines of the Wachau, probably the greatest in Austria, nonetheless, are neither a privilege of abbeys nor non-public estates. Cooperatives aren’t any exception. The dry whiteness obtained in 2020 from the Grüner Veltliner grape selection by Winzer Krems (860 winemakers), one of many two Krems cooperatives, affords nice acidity, nice pear and peach notes, and on the similar time an unbeatable worth.

“We perceive that much less is extra. That an important factor is high quality “, assures Michael Mayr, displaying the vines now pruned in such a method as to restrict the yield. For twenty years, Winzer Krems has additionally been continually bettering its units and strategies of wine manufacturing.

apricot gold

The second gold of the Wachau is apricot. He, too, boarded the fashionable practice with out warning. To seek out out about it, it is sufficient to stroll alongside the “path” marked out within the neighborhood of Krems on the property managed since 1866 by the Aufreiter household. Historically, apricots had been tall timber “open to the wind”, able to reaching the centenary age. Any further, new plantations line up with the decrease timber: they stay shorter, are extra delicate to frost, however the fruit is simple to reap by machine.

Nevertheless, the love of Austrians for this tree, which coexists virtually all over the place with vines, doesn’t change. “The cultivation of apricots developed considerably on the finish of the nineteenth me the century when phylloxera induced a horrible disaster in viticulture “, clearly Katharina Aufreiter.

Tourism: in Austria the magic of the Wachau valley

Presently protected by the European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation, the native strong-flavored apricot carries the candy identify ‘Marille’. It may be eaten recent in addition to in juice, liqueur, jam, chutney, and so forth. It is usually a fragrance Marillenknödel : this quenelle filled with apricots is in fact one of many specialties of the hotel-restaurant Aufreiter.

“On the finish of March, many Austrians journey for miles to see orchards in bloom”, provides Katharina Aufreiter. Just like the terraced vineyards – beautiful within the fall – spherical bell towers, painted Renaissance facades, fairly colourful homes, ruined fortresses, elegant castles, baroque abbeys, apricot is a part of the Wachau id, in the way in which cherry blossoms are inseparable from Japanese ones.


Categorised by UNESCO

An integral a part of the Decrease Austrian Nation, The sparsely populated Wachau is generally residence to villages, except Melk (5,300 inhabitants) and Krems (25,000 inhabitants). Since 2015, the latter has been making an attempt to strengthen its affect with artwork exhibitions organized in an ultra-modern constructing designed by the Marte.Marte architectural studio.

Wachau has been listed since 2000 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Checklist as“Excellent instance” With “cultural panorama” testify “Harmonious relationship between water, nature and … human habitats”.

In apply

To go. The Austrian Railways (ÖBB) and SNCF supply an in a single day practice between Paris and Vienna twice per week. In Sankt Pölten (Saint-Hippolyte), the capital of Decrease Austria, the place it stops, take the native practice to Krems. An excellent native bus community then makes it potential to discover the Wachau.

Ask about. Austrian Vacationer Board and Decrease Austrian Vacationer Board.

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