Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Austro-Hungarian Seminar: Tasting and Lunch

The Austro-Hungarian Tasting Seminar, held on Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at the residence of the Austrian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, started at around 10:00 am as scheduled.  The seminar was held in a room above and to the left of the foyer and reception area and was set up such that the attendees faced the seminar panelists who were seated in a continuous line at tables arrayed across the front of the room.  A screen for projection of presentation material was above and to the right of the 

panelists’ location.

The Chair of the event was Elizabeth Gabay MW and she made a brief statement before introducing the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Emil Brix.  Mr. Brix welcomed us to his residence and the event and wished us the best as we embarked on this very important initial joint marketing effort for the wines of Austria and Hungary.After Mr. Brix’s welcome, Elizabeth explained the process and then turned it over to the panelists.

The tasting itself was organized into three flights.  The first flight -- Indigenous white varieties from Somló and Wachau -- showcased the native white varietals from these two important Austrian wine regions.  The second flight -- Hungarian Kékfrankos and Austrian Blaufränkisch -- sought to compare and contrast the wines made from this varietal (different in name only) in Hungary and Austria.  Flight three highlighted the taste and production methods of the Tokaji and Ruster Ausbruch sweet wines.
Each flight tasting was led by a team comprised of two high-ranking winery representatives, each of whom focused on a particular perspective.  In flight three, for example, Heidi Schröck of 

Weingut Schröck led the session on Ruster Ausbruch while Péter Molnár of Patricus Winery focused on Tokaji.  The wines for each flight were poured prior to the beginning of the flight session which allowed for short breaks between sessions.  Questions were fielded at the end of a flight session.

It was very obvious that each of the panelists attached great significance to these proceedings.  They each stepped out of their winery shoes and focused on the bigger picture of regional/country wines and the going-forward possibilities for co-operation between the wineries of the two countries.  They were earnest and focused and brought along a lot of supporting props (The attendees were bombarded with soil, leaf, and varietal samples.).
The audience, which seemed to be comprised primarily of wine professionals doing business in wines from one or the other of these two countries, was engaged and asked piercing questions whenever the opportunity arose.

At the end of the seminar, we migrated to the Empress Maria Theresia Room which had been set up for a buffet lunch.  The room itself was divided into two sections with the larger of the two serving as the eating space and the smaller as the serving station.  The luncheon was sponsored by the Esterhazy Foundation, one of the supporters of the International Masters of Wine.  The Esterhazy Winery had flown its Chef over to London to oversee preparation of the lunch.  A fine array of wines accompanied the luncheon.

The Hungarian Ambassador joined the group at lunch and made a small speech thanking attendees for participation.  The head of the International Masters of Wine organization also spoke at htis time and was especially grateful to the Esterhazy Foundation for all that they had done to help make the event a success.


  1. How did you like the wines?

  2. As in all tastings, some were good and some not so much. I will be going through each of them in future posts.