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The cool winds of Dunkelsteiner Wald

The town of Rossatz is seeing lots of change. A fresh wind is stirring on the Danube’s south bank, bringing with it a strong team spirit, high-potential vineyards and newcomers shooting to international acclaim. Georg Frischengruber and Heinz Sigl know why.

Georg Frischengruber and Heinz Sigl look to a bright future

Back then, they tell us, vintners used to struggle in some years to reach certain sugar levels. Now, due to climate change, the cool plots near Rossatz are benefiting from a strong upcurrent. As is this winegrowing community in general, situated on the right or south bank of the Danube. A great deal has changed here in the past 20 years, according to Rossatz local Heinz Sigl. And he is good with that. “Around Rossatz and Rührsdorf you can find everything that makes up the Wachau’s geology. The Bohemian Massif is just as apparent here as on the Danube’s north bank. We also have all the soil types typical of the Wachau, including sand and gravel – just compare the Ried Steiger vineyard. Kirnberg with its layers of paragneiss is comparable to Ried Singerriedel at Spitz.”

Besides the different soil types, the south bank also features slopes with varying aspects. “This variety often results in differences of ten days during harvest. The last vineyards to be picked are Kreuzberg at Rührsdorf and Goldberg at Rossatz. This is because of their closeness to the forest and the cool fall winds,” Rossatz vintner Georg Frischengruber tells us.

Paragneiss in Ried Kirnberg
Ried Kirnberg offers a sweeping panorama

“On the Ried Zanzl slope
you feel the cool breeze
dropping from Dunkelsteiner Wald.”

Georg Frischengruber

#coolclimate on the fringe of Dunkelsteiner Wald

Slopes facing north. On the edge of the woods. Grapes maturing slowly. All these features are associated with ‘cool climate’. “A buzzword that is currently playing a key role in some target markets, like the US,” Georg Frischengruber explains. For these two winegrowers, the term is synonymous with fresh, fruity wines that display balanced acidity and subtle minerality. Sleek wines that might well have some sharp contours is what #coolclimate is all about. With plots situated along the Dunkelsteiner Wald, Rossatz has perfect conditions for such wines. 

Stay true to your style: for Rossatz vintner Heinz Sigl a secret to success

“Kirnberg produces wines with distinct mineral tones – a must-have for wine freaks.” Heinz Sigl

Some of the vintners at Rossatz and Rührsdorf are picking up on the new style. Others are not. “Compared with Georg’s wines, mine are more opulent. I like to go easier on acidity – maybe a question of age,” Heinz jokingly observes. Rossatz and Rührsdorf have something to offer for everyone, whatever the taste, boasting as they do ten separate vineyards with two sub-sections. “Occasional wine drinkers especially enjoy wines from the Ried Frauenweingärten vineyard. These are always softer, fruitier and more well-rounded. Kirnberg produces wines with distinct mineral tones – a must-have for wine freaks.”

Kirnberg is in fact an elevated plateau
Two approaches to a common goal: building the Rossatz brandname

“Rossatz has changed much – not least because of our team spirit.”

What else makes Rossatz–Rührsdorf special? That new generation of vintners taking over at many estates. “Just look at who has made a name for themselves in the last 20 years. Many of them are from here,” Georg Frischengruber observes. The two winegrowers speak of a strong local team spirit. “At wine tastings, we rate our wines based on blind testing. This way, everyone learns from each other. Together, we’re getting better at what we do. Organic growing is an example of how we spur each other on. With around 40% of the operations already gone organic, we lead the region.”

It will be exciting to see what else this community will come up with. In the meantime, it would be worthwhile to visit one of the local Heuriger wine taverns. The ones at Rossatz and Rührsdorf have, in fact, also made a name for themselves.