Feiler-Artinger and Wenzel: Top Producers of Ruster Ausbruch

The town of Rust on the western shore of Lake Neusiedl [pictured here] is world famous for the special sweet wine called Ruster Ausbruch. The wine is made from botrysized grapes and was a favorite of the Habsburgs. Indeed, they like it so much that Emperor Leopold I made Rust a Free Town of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in exchange for an annual payment of 10 thousand liters of Ruster Ausbruch. We traveled to Rust late last year to taste the wines of the best producers of Ruster Ausbruch, including Weingut Feiler-Artinger and Weingut Wenzel. These two top notch producers are both imported by Winemonger of Los Angeles, CA.

World War II and the Cold War’s Iron Curtain almost brought about the demise of this special wine, but in 1953 Gustav Feiler began making the wine once again, and today his grandson Kurt continues the family tradition. Weingut Wenzel is another family winery located in Rust. Michael Wenzel [pictured here reading the International Wine Review] took over winemaking responsibilities in 2008 after sharing responsibilities with his father since 1994.

Top producers like Feiler-Artinger and Wenzel make up to half a dozen passes through the vineyard to ensure optimally ripe fruit. After harvesting, the grapes are macerated, gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel or wooden barrels. Fermentation can take up to four months, often followed by aging in oak casks. Wenzel ages his traditionally styled Ruster Ausbruch in new oak for up to 18 months. The finished wines last for decades, gaining complexity and integration over time. With age the sensation of sweetness is reduced.

The wine reviews below come from Report # 27 Sweet Wines of the World.

Feiler-Artinger 2007 Ruster Ausbruch Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($48/375ml) 91+
Given its sweetness, this blend of Pinot Blanc (60%), Welschriesling (30%), Chardonnay and Neuburger is unexpectedly ethereal in character. A beautiful amber gold color, there are aromas of fresh and dried stone fruit along with botrytis notes on the nose. The palate is exceptionally well-balanced and delicate, giving rise to that heavenly lightness. Alc 11%, RS 249.8 g/l, TA 7.2 g/l

Feiler-Artinger 2007 Ruster Ausbruch Pinot Cuvée Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($59/375ml) 93
The Pinot Cuvée is a gorgeous deep yellow gold in color. It is sweet and unctuous with aromas of ripe apricot tart and botrytis. The palate shows excellent acidity with ripe stonefruit flavors and a creamy, velvet mouthfeel. Right now fruit dominates this wine, but as it ages minerals and more nuanced flavors may come to the fore. This wine has a great future! It’s called Pinto Cuvée because its principal grapes are all Pinots—Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Chardonnay. The Pinot Blanc is fermented in stainless steel, but the other grapes are fermented in 50 percent new oak and then aged in oak for an additional year.

Feiler-Artinger 2001 Welschriesling Essenz Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($55/375ml) 94

The amber colored 2001 Essenz is almost syrup-like in consistency. The bouquet of this Welschriesling based Ruster Ausbruch conjures up images of dried fruit, nuts and orange marmalade. Unctuous on the palate, it offers layers of flavors—caramelized tart tatin, roasted walnuts, and rich Scotch whisky aged in sherry casks.

Feiler-Artinger 2006 Welschriesling Essenz Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($59/375ml) 93
This amber gold nectar is a younger version of the 2001 Essenz but made with a higher proportion of Chardonnay (60%) than Welschriesling (40%). The sugar content is outrageously high (250 g/l), resulting in a syrup like consistency. The high sugar is due in part to an early attack of botrytis in 2006, resulting in highly shriveled and concentrated fruit at harvest time. The aromas are of pure rich apricot, and the palate offers more pure ripe fruit than the nuts and oxidized notes of the 2001. Fermented in oak, this lovely, pure wine will evolve into an increasingly complex and interesting wine over time. Alc 5.5%, RS 429 g/l, TA 10.7 g/l

Wenzel 2006 Ruster Ausbruch Am Fusse des Berges Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($62/375ml) 92
The Am Fusse des Berges is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Welschriesling. It shows gorgeous botrytis and ripe apricot and peach aromas and shows incredible purity of ripe nectarine on the velvet like palate. It is fermented in 50 percent new oak. Alc 10.5%, RS 210 g/l.

Wenzel 2006 Ruster Ausbruch Saz Neusiedlersee-Hügelland ($90/375ml) 94
This golden yellow nectar is a heavenly drink. While sweet and showing tangy stone fruit on the nose, it’s also delicate and perfectly balanced. High acidity makes for a wine that is lovely to sip and even better with a rich, creamy cheese. With this wine Mike Wenzel tries to resuscitate the Ruster Ausbruch of old, using hand-picked botrytis-affected Furmint grapes (60%) blended with Gelber Muskateller (40%). Fermented in 50 percent new oak. RS 210 g/l.

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