The grapevine Furmint has been at home on the shores of Lake Neusiedl since the 15th century. But as precious and individualistic as it might be, Furmint remains something of a rarity. This specialty wine – still often overlooked – has reached new heights with the Furmint Geyerumriss 2019. Because the winegrower couple Günter & Regina Triebaumer from Rust, long known as dedicated experts working with this grape variety, are bottling a single vineyard Furmint for the first time.
A rarity from Rust. With the Furmint Geyerumriss 2019, Regina & Günter Triebaumer demonstrate what the Furmint is capable of doing. © Steve Haider
It has always been known around Lake Neusiedl that the choice of vineyard has a major impact on the character of the wine. ‘The Furmint has to sense the lake nearby’ – this is an old saying in Rust, the idyllic free town on the west bank of the lake: the secret capital of Furmint Nation and one of the most exciting wine regions in Austria.
Furmint found its second home here early on, after originating in the Tokaj region. Out of the total twelve hectares under cultivation in Austria, eleven hectares of Furmint are planted in Rust. The slate soils coupled with the special microclimate so near to Lake Neusiedl create ideal conditions. One small vineyard stands out again as being particularly well-suited: the Geyerumriss, 0.5 hectares in size. ‘The time is ripe’, says Günter Triebaumer; ‘we know that Furmint is something for connoisseurs and will probably always remain a specialty programme. But we want to show what this grape can really do’.
The origins of the name »Geyerumriss« have not yet been adequately explored. The adjacent parcel, which is simply called »Geyer«, also remains a bit of a mystery to local researchers. But this patch of land has visibly demonstrated its merits in matters of viticulture for many years now. The vineyard is located in the west of Rust toward Sankt Margarethen, with a magnificent view of Ruster Bay. The soil consists of weathered slate without any limestone content.
The vineyard Riede Geyerumriss lies to the west of Rust. A wonderful view of Lake Neusiedl opens up behind the crest of the hill.
Günter Triebaumer’s father Paul set out Furmint here back in 1987. Günter & Regina Triebaumer are conscious of the unique nature of the terroir: like an arena, the hemispherical rolling hill composed of mica schist stretches out along the lake shore, crowned by woodlands. The large water surface of the lake ensures even temperatures & moisture, even in the dry Pannonian summer months. Cool air flows down from the top of the hill at night, creating a microclimate that is unique in all the world.
Furmint has always been a wine for connoisseurs, as well as for imaginative sommeliers who never tire of singing the virtues of this grape variety to their guests. Some folks associate the name Furmint with sweet wine, because in the past the grape was almost exclusively vinified with residual sugar, and from botrytised grapes. Those nobly sweet pearls of the vintner’s art are still around, but winegrowers and wine lovers are becoming increasingly aware of the dry wines. Günter Triebaumer is one of the few growers who cultivates this variety and understands its special characteristics. ‘With Furmint we are at the top of the game’, reports Triebaumer, ‘and we attract attention everywhere’.
Furmint Geyerumriss 2019: A complex bouquet of fruits streams into the nose – pear, topaz apple, quince and a hint of green tea. On the palate as well one perceives a yellow-fruit-flavoured juiciness, accompanied by a piquant spice. Tingling acidity gives the wine inner tension & precision; it seems to have been sculpted out of marble. With these qualities, this Furmint offers an ideal accompaniment to seafood, chicken, mushrooms or goat cheese.
The Furmint must sense the lake nearby’ is an old saying in Rust. © Steve Haider
The grape variety has experienced all the highlights and setbacks that moved Austrian viticulture over the past 150 years. In the second half of the 19th century, Furmint was the most widely grown vine in Rust. In the mid-1980s, just two hectares were planted with Furmint. The variety ripens late and has a tendency to develop botrytis, which means working with extreme precision if one wishes to vinify it dry. In earlier days, most producers decided to let nature take its course, and only recently have more winegrowers become interested in vinifying dry Furmint.
The town of Rust enjoys a very special location, situated directly on Lake Neusiedl, which exerts a moderating influence on the Pannonian climate with its dry summers & long-lasting autumn. The vineyards surround Rust like an arena – the lower steps of the amphitheatre are ideal for sweet wines, because the moisture of the lake here encourages the ‘noble rot’ Botrytis cinerea. The higher elevations are dry, exposed to wind and therefore cooler; here (among other varieties, though not the only one) Blaufränkisch grows under favourable conditions. The middle of the slope is the homeland of dry Furmint – this is also where the vineyards Geyerumriss & Plachen are planted.
If one thinks of the passionately dedicated winegrower couple from Rust, the first thing that likely comes to mind is their spicy Blaufränkisch, which has made a name for the Triebaumers. Günter & Regina have also contributed to the revival of Ruster Ausbruch, a nobly sweet specialty that was in danger of being forgotten. The couple cultivate a total of twenty-four hectares, which are spread out over forty-five parcels. The two want to bring the unmistakable characteristics of the different vineyards into the bottle, so they tend their vineyards with loving devotion and literally let each vine grow according to its own individual inclination. That is why the Triebaumers have a fondness for those wine lovers who have retained their sense of appreciation for quality craftsmanship. ‘We don’t produce wines for everybody’, says Günter Triebaumer confidently, ‘but for those who value honest, solid and regionally appropriate farming. We communicate openly & simply. Everything we do and what our wines reveal, we can explain & justify’.
The renowned winegrower couple Regina and Günter Triebaumer in one of the small alleys of the idyllic town of Rust on Lake Neusiedl. © Steve Haider