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Passport Magazine

The Imperial Tailoring Co.

The Hills are Alive

Text Charles W. Borden
Photos Alexei Zhukov

When an upcoming business trip to Vienna prompted the decision to focus on Austrian wines for this month’s wine tasting, we set to scouring Moscow for appropriate subjects. Our search yielded four whites, two dessert wines, no reds at all, and the realization that the local selection of Austrian wine is woefully thin. This under-representation may be attributable both to the relatively high prices and low profile of Austrian wines in world markets. Whatever the reason, it is unfortunate because Austrian wines, particularly whites, can be very good. In any event, the dearth of candidates forced us to fill in with a few interestinglooking reds that are not Austrian but are available in Moscow.

Most of Austria’s main wine-producing regions lie in the east — the Niederoesterreich province that surrounds the capital, Burgenland at the eastern border with Hungary, and Steiermark in the southeast near the Slovenian border.

The Austrian choices came from just three wineries: F.X. Pichler of the Wachau area, and Alois Karcher and Leo Hillinger, both in Burgenland. Pichler and Karcher are two of the best-known Austrian wineries, and some of their wines carry very high Wine Spectator and Parker scores.


The Hillinger Sauvignon Blanc 2006 is from a new high-tech, family-owned winery opened in 2004 in Jois, Burgenland, about 50 kilometers southeast of Vienna. The winery presents a modern product, and its wines are broadly exported. This Sauvignon Blanc was a typical Austrian white, crisp with light residual sugar and a touch of fruit.

F.X. Pichler is located west of Vienna in Wachau where the steep, terraced vineyards follow the Danube River Valley. In this region, the two principal grapes are Riesling and Gruener Veltliner. Gruener Veltliner is Austria’s own high-production grape used for simple table wines meant for drinking young. The dry, white wines we tried from Pichler were a Sauvignon Blanc and a Riesling, which consistently receive 90+ Parker ratings.

Paul O’Brien, Laura Bridge, John Ortega
Eric Boone, Anna Kulyagina,
Gearge Voloshin

Dessert Wines

The Austrian dessert wines were the Pichler Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Durmeister Kellerberg 2003 and the Alois Kracher Grand Cuvee Trockenbeeren #6 2001. Kracher is one of the world’s top dessert wine houses. It is located near Burgenland’s large Lake Neusiedl, and the cool autumn fog of this area provides the conditions for the Botrytis “rot” that intensifies sugars in grapes to produce great dessert wines. The Kracher winery has a very large range of dessert wines, producing ten or more every year, as well as ice wines, and these often receive 95+ Wine Spectator scores. The Grand Cuvee wines, such as the one we tried, are considered to be the most balanced and are often described as having a flavor of “candied apples, jammy apricots, hints of citrus zests.”


The non-Austrian wines included represented three of the world’s great wine regions — California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Barossa Valley, and Burgundy’s Vosne-Romanee. The very expensive Burgundy should have been a fabulous wine, but, to our disappointment, the bottle we tried must have been mishandled or miscorked.

Eric Boone
Charles Borden
Michel Lauga, Chef of
Observatoire Restaurant

Knights of the Vine

John Ortega, International Apparel
Charles Borden, Meridian Capital
George Voloshin, Passport Magazine
Anna Kulyagina, Passport Magazine
Laura Bridge, Executive Chef
Eric Boone, Business Consultant
Paul O’Brien, Restaurateur

Ortega Easy Rating System

I love this wine! 5 pts.
I really like this wine! 4 pts.
This wine is good! 3 pts.
This wine is not that good! 2 pts.
I don’t really care for this wine! 1 pt.

  Wine Source Retail (RR) Retail (USD) Rating
1. Leo Hillinger Sauvignon 2006 (Burgenland) Kollektion Vin 1,600 $65 3.40
2. F.X. Pichler Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (Wachau) Grand Cru 2,385 $97 3.13
F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Durnsteiner Kellerberg (Wachau) Grand Cru 3,339 $136 3.76
4. Kistler Chardonnay 2005 (Napa Valley) Magnum 3,901 $159 3.81
F.X. Pichler Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Durmeister Kellerberg 2003 (Wachau) Grand Cru 6,127  $250 4.18
Alois Kracher Grand Cuvee Trockenbeeren #6 2001 (Burgenland) Magnum 3,349 $137 4.47
1. Miner Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (Napa Valley) Grand Cru 3,858 $157 4.30
2. Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Gardens 2006 (Barossa Valley) Grand Cru 2,523 $103 3.52
3. Leroy Vosne-Romanee Les Beaux Monts 2003 (Burgundy) Grand Cru 19,027 $777 2.27

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