Enjoying Vienna

Work brought me to Vienna for a couple of days. In the next few posts I will tell you more about Vienna’s wine bars and some of the Austrian wines I had. But today I want to share a couple of pictures with you from this beautiful city, because I liked it so much. I had been in Vienna a few years ago, but didn’t have time then to really explore the city. This time I had a bit more time and luckily the weather was good as well.

In 2018 Vienna was voted the most liveable city in the world for the ninth time in a row. Quite a feat! (Baghdad is the worst in case you wonder.) And I must say that in the little time that I had to wander around, Vienna really made a big impression on me. What I find really unique here is that the city is packed with beautiful historical buildings in a relatively small area. Vienna has a total area of 414.65 square kilometres. The metropolitan area of Paris is about 2300 square kilometres, just to give you an idea.

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Amazing, isn’t it?

In Vienna impressive palaces, old churches, and elegant houses keep appearing in every new street you take. And there is absolutely no need to take a bus or a metro anywhere, you can cover the whole historical centre by Foot. Even outside the historical centre, you will still find beautiful and stately houses like the one below.

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Probably not in any guide, but this was just one block away from where I was staying.

One day I finished early and took advantage to go to the Leopold Museum. As there was little over an hour left to visit the museum, I almost ran through all the exhibitions, but I’m glad I did it. There was a beautiful exhibition dedicated to Egon Schiele. I will not post a picture of his work here because I would probably be banned from WordPress. Rather explicit!

An artist whom I did not know before, but really impressed me, was Koloman Moser, one of leading artists of the Vienna Secession movement, a group of “rebel” artists at the end of the 19th century, amongs whom also Gustav Klimt. He was known for his graphic art, but also his paintings and his furniture.

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I wouldn’t mind having this in my living room

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And a loungy couch for on the terrace perhaps?

The Leopold Museum is situated in an area that concentrates quite a few museums around a square. The square was a great place where people just chilled, had a beer or soaked up the sun.

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You’d probably need a week to visit all the museums around this square.

And of course, when in Wien, you need to have a sausage at one of the many food stalls in the city. I had a great curry sausage, with a sauce that was actually quite spicy, but I liked it very much. Purists will say that curry wurst is actually from Berlin. And they’re right, but they make darn good ones in Vienna too.

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Comfort food

I just want to show you the food stall that sold these sausages :

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Have you noticed the rabbit?

And on the other side there’s the Opera House :

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How often do you get to eat street food with a view like this?

And they actually sold wine! And not just any…

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Do you fancy a glass of champagne with your sausage, sir?

I’ll stop it here. I could go on forever about the wonders of Vienna. If you have a chance to visit, don’t hesitate. It’s a great place!

Next time, I’ll talk about wine again, I promise!

 

 

Reviewing James Suckling’s The Miracle of Alto Adige

On 22th of March, the Miracle of Alto Adige was released, a documentary produced by James Suckling and his son Jack about this wine region in the north of Italy. On 29th it was released for the general public on his website. I was pretty excited about this documentary and eager to see it. I’m a big fan of audiovisual productions about wine. Probably because I’m not the most avid reader there is, but also because the treshold is lower than reading a thick book. After a long day at work, I find it quite relaxing to watch a documentary or listen to a podcast. On the train for example, since I spend at least two hours per day commuting.

One of the series I really enjoyed watching, already quite a few years ago, was Jancis Robinson’s wine course. When I started getting interested in wine that was the perfect introduction for me to the subject. It was very educative and had a good mix of factual information, beautiful images of the world’s best known wine regions, and interviews with key winemakers. When I heard about James Suckling’s documentary about Alto Adige, I expected something similar. I was particularly happy to see that someone like James Suckling chose a fairly unknown region like Alto Adige. I might be wrong, but I think of him as a critic who has a preference for “big” wines, while I know Alto Adige as a wine region that’s especially known for somewhat lighter and fresh wines. Anyhow, it’s a region that doesn’t get a lot of attention, even among lovers of Italian wines, Tuscany and Piedmont still being the go to regions for many.

The documentary starts off with very impressive footage of the mountainous area. The images, shot by drones and helicopters, are really breathtaking, immediately driving home the point of the “miracle” of Alto Adige. That probably should not come as a surprise, the director of the documentary being James Orr, known for popular Hollywood movies such as Three Men and a Baby, and Sister Act 2. The scenery is the perfect introduction to the winemakers of the region, including top winemakers such as Alois Lageder and Elena Walch, but I was happy to see also a few cooperatives such a Cantina Tramin. They only get a few minutes each to talk about their experiences with wine making in the region. After all, the documentary is only 23 minutes long and that seriously limits the possibilities of what you can show. If you want to showcase 6 wineries, well then there’s not an awful lot of time left to show or tell anything else.

Unfortunately this means that you don’t get to know much about the region in general : where is it situated? what kind of wines are made there? and which grapes are used? Particularly the last question is of interest, I find, because Alto Adige is home to a few indigenous grapes such as the well-known gewürztraminer, but also less well-known, but not less interesting, grapes such as schiava and lagrein. Especially lagrein is a grape that I find interesting. It produces medium-bodied, sometimes floral, but mainly spicy, peppery red wines,  reminiscent of syrah. Alas, no word about lagrein or any wine of the region for that matter. It makes you wonder a bit about the point of this documentary. Perhaps James Suckling has a personal preference for the wines coming from Alto Adige? Well, again, you won’t find out by watching this documentary! James Suckling is not to be seen anywhere. You only hear him saying a few lines at the beginning of the documentary.

I won’t hide that I find this documentary a bit of a missed opportunity. James Suckling uses his popularity to draw the attention to a less-known wine region, such as Alto-Adige, and that’s great. But he does not use his knowledge or tasting experience to share his insights, or to let us in on a few talented but yet undiscovered wine makers for example. Nor do we really learn anything about Alto Adige. Pity…

Well, let me give you at least one lagrein to look out for then! It’s the Staves, a Lagrein Riserva of Weingut Kornell. This is a wine that is defined by its pureness, its elegance and yes, the black pepper that could lead you to northern rhone syrah. In its youth the wood can still dominate the fruit a bit, but I drank the 2012 and the wood is perfectly integrated now. I found this wine just under 30€, so quality also has its price in Alto Adige, but what you get in your glass is definitely worth the money.

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So, if you watch The Miracle of Alto Adige, then treat yourself with a nice peppery lagrein or a flowery schiava. They go well with the beautiful scenery.