Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Stift Klosterneuburg Sparkling Grüner Veltliner Unveils Delicious Bubbles

This Austrian Sekt has a legendary past.

During our recent wine dinner featuring six big California reds, we started things on a lighter note. The opening wine was the Stift Klosterneuburg Sparkling Grüner Veltliner.

Austrian Sekt Bubbles With History

The sparkling wine in Austria is called sekt. I’ve enjoyed a bottle or two of German sekt, but this is the first I’ve had from Austria and, in fact, didn’t know they made it.

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Sparkling wine in Austria actually dates back to 1859 and Emperor Franz Josef is said to have enjoyed a bottle of sekt every Sunday. It’s surprising to learn that Austria has created a sparkling wine innovation that is with us today. The wire cage (muselet) that fits over the cork in sparkling wine and is used around the world today was developed there.

The weather conditions were perfect for me to introduce the sekt on the patio. Showers had moved out earlier in the day, but a gust of wind still wafted around.

As we poured the bubbly, I related the “legend of the veil,” first recorded in the 14th century. About 900 years ago, on their wedding day, Prince Leopold III and his bride Agnes stood on Leopoldsberg Hill. A sudden gust of wind took hold of Agnes’ bridal veil and blew it off her head.

In present time, the wind cooperated on the patio and a nice gust of wind blew just at that time in my story. I only wish I thought to toss a white napkin in the air.

The Prince, The Bridal Veil And The Monastery

Agnes’ veil, was made of a fine fabric from Byzantium and flew over the hills of the Leopoldsberg. Leopold knelt down and swore to found a monastery in the place where he’d find the veil again. Nine years later, Leopold was hunting in the area all at once the dogs started to bark in the scrub. There was the white veil, hanging fully intact on a blossoming elder tree. On that spot, the Klosterneuburg monastery was built. Without that veil, we would have none of the delicious sekt that is produced there!

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Stift Klosterneuburg is the oldest wine estate in Austria, being founded in 1114. Grüner Veltliner is the most widely grown grape in Austria and produces world-class wines in a variety of styles. The sekt has a delicate froth with fruity and spicy notes. In the glass the fine bubbles shot up in continuous streams, adding to the elegance of the occasion.

The flavors of pears, apples, and peaches blend deliciously in this brut-style wine. It has a crisp and clean finish.

We served the bubbles with a savory dish of Vadouvan Spiced Carrots and Radishes prepared by our friend Dathan of Triangle Around Town. This was a great counterpoint to the sekt and a standout pairing.

At about $20 or less, this is a great buy for entertaining.

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