Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Finding the perfect wine that can go with all the rich flavors found on the Thanksgiving menu, the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberries, and the various side dishes, can be challenging. Nonetheless, I think that a wine that is bright and fruity, and not too tannic nor alcoholic, is always a great choice. So when I recently tasted the 2009 Juris St. Laurent Selection, I thought that this year, it was time to invite Austria to our Thanksgiving table.

Owned by the Stiegelmar family, Juris farms 17 hectares of vineyards in the Neusiedlersee wine region, half way between Vienna and Budapest. This is the warmest part of Austria with climatic conditions well suited to red varieties, which explains the winery’s special focus on St Laurent and Pinot Noir wines.

The Stiegelmar family has been cultivating grapes in this area since the 16th century. One of the winery’s underground cellars was built in 1756, Mozart’s birth year. It was dug 52 meters long, 12 meters below the surface, and maintains a stable temperature of 10°C (50°F).

The underground cellars.

But over the past 10 years, Axel Stiegelmar and his father Georg have developed a modern winery. The transport of grapes, mash, must, and wine is done predominantly through gravity to avoid damage by careless transport. The storage building is Austria’s first passive energy wine storage facility. The building, neither heated nor cooled by fossil or electric energy, has various temperature and humidity zones to provide optimal storage conditions for different wines at different stages of their production.

St. Laurent is a red grape of mysterious origins. It is said to belong to the Pinot family, although its exact ancestry remains unclear. It is an early ripening grape variety, sensitive to frost, sunburn, and botrytis. The name comes from Saint Laurent’s name day on August 10, which is when the veraison of the grape occurs.

If the wine had the bright acidity of a Pinot Noir, it was spicy like a Syrah. It showed a very dark color with aromas of black cherries, moka, and gamey notes. On the palate, it was quite smooth and tasty with maybe a hint of sweet chestnut on the finish.