In August I mentioned one of Vienna’s best natural wine shops, but as part of a roundup, and I didn’t go into any detail, so this time around I thought I should give Enrico a bit of a plug.
Vinifero occupies a narrow shop front on a road you’d probably never venture down were you not in search of a great selection of natural wine, although a few regular readers will note that it’s a mere few minutes from my favourite café in Vienna, Café Sperl.
Enrico Bachechi describes himself as an Önologe, and as well as owning Vinifero he also consults for a number of wineries. You can tell Enrico isn’t Austrian, right? His shop has a very good selection of Italian natural wines, with perhaps a slight emphasis on Tuscany, but you’ll find familiar names beside less familiar ones from all over the world.
One thing I particularly like about Vinifero is that the range of Austrian wines is less obvious than some stores. I’m not going to deny that my heart leaps every time I go in a wine shop and see Gut Oggau, Werlitsch, Rennersistas and the like, but here you’ll find some less well known labels.
Top – some of the excellent international wines at Vinifero.
Bottom- some of the local bottles. The eclectic labels to the right and bottom shelf left are from Florian Schuhmann’s experimental Quantum Winery (Weinviertal in Lower Austria)
Vinifero used to be an old Beisl (neighbourhood restaurant) and aside from the ventilation ducts it retains a nice old feel.
I brought back a few Austrian bottles, but the one we drank whilst in Vienna was quite unusual, “Mea” Elderflower Fizz by Hochdeutsch. Hochdeutsch is the label of Julie-Ann Hoch (whose partner, Christoph Hoch, might be known to readers of this blog and customers of Newcomer Wines). Julie-Ann is German, hence the play on words here.
Mea is not exactly a “wine”, partly because of its low (6%) alcohol content, but also because it’s a blend of wine and botanicals, in this case elderflower tea. This lightly sparkling drink is made by blending biodynamically grown grape must (Demeter certified) with biodynamically grown botanicals, both directly filled into bottle to ferment on natural yeasts, in a similar way to a petnat.
The result is super-refreshing, bone dry, and with the feel and weight of a sparkling cider. The elderflower scent and flavours are subtle, which adds to an attractive lightness.
Julie-Ann is based (with Christoph) at Hollenburg, south of the Danube not far from Krems, and around 35 miles west of Vienna. These drinks are very low production but well worth seeking out, just the sort of thing to be guzzling once the weather warms up, but none the worse for being sipped in a minus six-degree Vienna January.
Vinifero is at Gumpendorfer Straße 36, 1060 Wien. Note its limited opening hours, Tuesday to Friday 2pm to 8pm and Saturday 12pm until 6pm. They close Sunday and Monday.
Whilst on the subject of cold Vienna temperatures, we made another trip up into the vineyards, via a walk in the woods. Of course, in winter all the pop-up Heuriger on the Nussberg are closed, even Sirbu which opens again in early springtime (and Mayer-am-Pfarrplatz, which is a good place to end your walk, at Pfarrplatz, before catching the 38A (see below) back to Heiligenstadt, generally opens at 4pm in the winter). It wasn’t always easy walking in a biting southerly wind blowing up from the Pannonian Plain, but worth it to see the vineyards in the winter.
It really is a great way to spend one of your days in Vienna. Just take the U4 Line to its final destination, Heiligenstadt. Directly outside the station exit is the stop for the 38A Bus, which will take you through Grinzing and up into the hills. Alight at the stop called Sulzwies (one stop before Kahlenberg – the bus has an electronic route screen). All you have to do is head down the path just to the right of the bus stop and you are into the Vienna Woods, eventually coming out into the Nussberg vines. There’s more information from our summer walk here. This includes details of a good, I’d say invaluable, map of Vienna and the surrounding woods and vineyards at 1:25,000, some ideas for summer lunches and information about a café at the start of the walk (that’s if you haven’t read it already).
Finally, a photo of some Schilchersekt. If a trip to Vienna isn’t the same without a schnitzel, neither is it the same without a few glasses of this bracing Blauer Wildbacher speciality of raspberry-and-blueberry-tasting frivolity from Styria. Viennese friends can always be relied upon to open some before dinner.