While German wineries, even quite good ones, can seem unduly modest about their own accomplishments and shy about marketing to new groups of consumers, no such light treading for our southern neighbour, Austria. Austria's wine reputation was all but shattered by the dramatic adulterated wine scandal of 1985. From this low point, Austrian wine has - and here, the tired metaphor makes sense for once - pullet itself up by its own bootstraps, and wineries are rightly and vocally proud of their successes. Austrians themselves have fuelled the growth of a new wine scene with all but insatiable home demand. That, too, makes a great difference from Germany, where wine patriotism was lukewarm for the longest time and has only really taken off in the wake of the Große Gewächse (great growth/grand cru) campaign.
The Thermenregion south of Vienna is one of those success stories, as it supplies the ever-thirsty throats of Vienna with original whites from indigenous grapes such as Zierfandler and Rotgipfler. The Schellmann winery, run as a side project by the Kamptal winemaker Fred Loimer and some partners, is one of those confident establishments, as you can tell by the label: Love me or leave me, it seems to say, and I don't think you're going to leave me, are you now?
A cuvée of - well of anything really, Chardonnay, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler, Traminer and for good measure, Riesling, this surprised and seduced me with a wonderfully complex smell: pears, hay, exotic and perfumed notes (Traminer doing its dirty work here, probably), ripe fruit - a promise. A promise that is not quite kept on the palate, I'm sorry to report: Somewhat matured, very soft fruit, strong warm alcohol, exotic traces still there, but slackened by a somewhat tired and bitter finish. I missed a little freshness in the glass, but regular readers of these pages know that for acid hounds like us, freshness is something of a bee in the bonnet - so some of you may now be rolling your eyes heavenward, and perhaps rightly so. For those of you this should be a very interesting wine. I for my part ended up thinking that it was probably more interesting to drink, but may have been less interesting to smell in its earlier days. But a rich and original white nonetheless for those comfortable with power and creaminess.