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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

11/18/2015 - Austria: A Story of Great Wine and Travel

This week, Slow Living Radio takes off to Austria to learn more about the lifestyle, culture, history, places to visit, food and wine, particularly Grüner Veltliner .  We check in the Peter Katz, of the Austrian Tourist Office for the low down, before welcoming Dieter Hübler, from Laurenz V, one of Austria's most acclaimed Gruner Veltliner producers.

Dieter Hübler

In 2004, Laurenz Maria Moser V., descendant of the famous Austrian Lenz Moser wine family dedicated himself wholly to Grüner Veltliner with the support of two partners by presenting his first Grüner.

Today in 2014, ten years later, seven examples are made each year:
Forbidden – Sunny – Singing – Friendly – Silver Bullet – Charming Grüner – Four

 Laurenz Maria's partner, Franz Schweiger, a trained accountant and economics expert takes responsibility for the financial end of things while Dieter Hübler takes care of marketing and distribution and Laurenz Maria concentrates on the vineyard and vinification.

The enthusiasm for Grüner Veltliner and the knowledge and experience in winemaking for more than 400 years resulted in a new international style of Grüner Veltliner: subtle spice, elegant acidity, vibrant and playful on the palate and flattering on the finish.

Laurenz Maria Moser V. inherited his knowledge from his grandfather, the legendary "Grandpa Grüner", Professor Dr. Lorenz Moser III., who invented and developed the ubiquitous Austrian trellising system called the "Lenz Moser Hocherziehung", which revolutionized vineyard cultivation right across Europe.

His advice to his grandson was: "Concentrate on the important tasks in life and do them well. The art of good Grüner Veltliner is to cultivate perfect grapes and simply not ruin them in the cellar!"

LAURENZ V. exports to 45 countries around the world and one can enjoy CharmingSilver Bullet and Friendly, Singing and Sunny Grüner, as well as  the fruity Forbidden and the icon Grüner Four from Los Angeles to London, Dublin to Dubai, Sydney to Shanghai and New York to Oslo to name just a few.


Dieter on the left, with the Moser's from left, Laurenz Maria Moser V,
and his daughters, Sophie and Anna.

Austria: A Singular Journey, A Lifetime of Memories

Interview with Peter Katz 
Anyone traveling to Austria for the first time will benefit from a general overview of Austrian customs. Austria has been a premier tourism country for many decades, and navigating the country is easy. But like any foreign country, there are local customs that are useful to be aware of.

Gemütlichkeit: Austria has similarities with Germany, to its north, and Italy, to its south. Austrians have in common with Germans a love of order and efficiency, but they share with Italians a profound interest in the pleasures of the senses. Austrians are orderly and respect the importance of rules, but above all they seek to enjoy life, whether that means art, coffee, relaxation, opera, pastries, wine, or sports. Enjoying life at an unhurried pace is the essence of Gemütlichkeit.


Authenticity: Another important aspect of Austria is authenticity, both historical and geographical. History covers so much; after all, where in the world is there not history? Perhaps the proper term is really continuity. In Austria, connections to the past are everywhere, whether it is the many impressive palaces in the city or the dozens of astonishing castles and abbeys in the countryside. Additionally, virtually every Austrian village has an authentic town center and cobblestones and charming, narrow paths and lanes. Just outside of the villages, the unspoilt mountains, rivers, lakes, prairies, marshes, and valleys communicate the Austrians' deep connection to and respect for the land. Traditions die hard here; the past is part of the present.

The combination of pleasure, culture, modernity, authenticity, and Gemütlichkeit has made Austria such a beloved destination throughout the years.


DINING: For many Austrians, lunch is the primary meal of the day, especially in the countryside. On weekends and holidays, Austrians often gather for coffee (Kaffee) in the late afternoon. Often it is accompanied by a generous selection of fresh pastries. This is an occasion for pleasant chat and companionship - it may last several hours. It is an important social custom, in its way.

Since lunch is substantial, Austrians are often content with cold cuts for dinner; if you meet up with friends in the evening, you may find that a modest plate of cheese and bread is the only food anyone orders. (If you are counting your pennies, you can always dash outside for a quick snack at a Würstelstand (sausage stand) - Austrians will find that strategy perfectly sensible.)

There is no such thing as a diner in Austria, but fortunately there is the Beisl, an equally charming institution that provides excellent, simple fare at very reasonable prices. Look for the Tagesmenü (prix fixe meal) posted on the sidewalk out front for excellent values. Also, budget-conscious travelers should know that the delicatessen sections in all supermarkets can prepare delicious sandwiches at low cost.

LEISURE: Austrians draw a sharp distinction between work and play. When the workday is over, then thoughts of work are banished as well - it is time for the evening's pleasure, time to enjoy life with culture or cuisine or conviviality. The hectic person who lets work concerns invade the evenings and weekends will not meet with great approval. It is considered healthy and proper to limit work to its own sphere, to live life with a sense of proportion, and to enjoy the time away from the workplace. (For the same reason, most Austrians are guaranteed generous vacation time.)

Because they set aside time for personal enjoyment, Austrians love to linger. There is nothing more pleasant than an evening gathering in a restaurant with friends, over wine and cheese, that stretches to midnight or beyond.  By the same token, you will hardly ever feel pressure from the waitstaff in a café or restaurant to make room for another patron. In a café, when you receive your coffee, it arrives on a diminutive silver platter also bearing a small glass of water with a spoon draped over it - that glass of water symbolizes your right to keep your seat without ordering further coffees. You can refill the glass endlessly….

This is the essence of Gemütlichkeit - a complex and deeply felt concept that cannot be limited to mere "coziness." It denotes an atmosphere that incorporates relaxation, conviviality, and freedom from a stressful lifestyle. Because Austrian restaurants are genuinely gemütlich and affordable, Austrians prefer to gather in public settings rather than the home. In Austria, this is generally reserved for family and close friends.

ALCOHOL: Austrians generally favor wine over beer and spirits (although an evening of companionship may end with a round of schnapps or grappa). Most Austrians drink white wine (Grüner Veltliner) diluted with seltzer water (ein G'spritzter, a white wine spritzer). Austria also produces excellent red wines, for instance Blaufränkisch. Austrian beers are not well-known abroad, but Austria produces many fine lagers, many of which are produced locally.


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