Probably every wine country has its secrets: wines that are produced only in hidden corners of the vineyard area, drunk only by the locals. I have come across wines like this in France a few years ago, and in Austria in 2010, during EWBC. And there are undoubtedly much more. These are wines that are not exported, not produced in large quantities, sometime even almost forbidden, but not quite. And mostly, there is a very interesting history behind these wines.
One such wine – let’s called it X – I tasted last week, at home, together with a friend who happened to have a bottle of X in his cellar. When Bernard learned I had heard of X, but not tasted it, he offered to come by and share that bottle together. And so we did.
Wine museum Moschendorf
I first heard about X during the press trip after EWBC 2010 to Südburgenland. We visited the tiny open air wine museum in Moschendorf, close to the Hungarian border. Walking to the tasting room, where we were going to taste some 30 and more wines from Blaufränkisch, from the Eisenberg DAC, we saw the word ‘uhudler’ on a large information panel and also on the walls of some houses. A welcoming sign moreover spoke of Uhudler-Verkostung im Stadel. So uhudler was probably a wine! And that is indeed what the information panel told us. Uhudler is a wine made of what the Austrians call Direktträger: American vines, with American rootstock and all. During the big phylloxera epidemic of the late nineteenth century, whereby a tiny aphid devasted almost all of Europe’s vineyards by gnawing at the roots of the vines, people tried all kinds of things to be able to keep making wine. It took a while before the final cure was discovered: grafting European Vinifera vines onto American non-Vinifera rootstock. The continent of Northern America has a large array of berry carrying vines, different from the European Vitis Vinifera. These vines go by the name of Vitis Lambrusca, or Vitis Rupestris. And they are immune to the grape louse, phylloxera vastatrix.