Südburgenland is Austria’s smallest and poorest wine producing region. It straddles the border with Hungary and there are approximately 460 hectares under vine, which are divided amongst 2400 growers – although the majority of these vignerons are working their vines as a hobby, tending them on weekends and evenings. Amongst the 400+ hectares is 120 hectares of vineyard called Eisenberg. It is regarded by many as the best site in Südburgenland and it is predominantly here that Uwe Schiefer works with Blaufränkisch. The region benefits from a Pannonian climate, with low precipitation and warm air coming up from the south.
In the 1990s, when land in the area was less desirable and, as such, affordable, Uwe Schiefer started to put together his estate. While others were put off by the steep, schistous hillsides of Eisenberg he saw potential. With iron-rich, slate soils predominating and no influence from the Danube, the weather and microclimate of the region are very different to that of more well-known regions further north, like the Wachau. Located further south, and with Eisenberg shaped like an amphitheatre, it is better suited to red varieties, in particular Blaufränkisch. This is a variety that Uwe feels can successfully display a sense of place and as such his winemaking philosophy is simple – less is more. He wants to express purity in his wines.
From 2006 he started working some of his vineyard biodynamically, with the intention of gradually converting all his sites. He does buy in some grapes, around 20%, to supplement the estate grown fruit in his Eisenberg. Königsberg comes from south west facing slopes and often shows more immediately seductive fruit than the mineral Eisenberg. The Reihburg is made from his oldest vines, grown on four sites that total no more than 1.8 hectares – this is a truly fine and ethereal wine, made for long-term ageing.
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