HeinzelCheeseTalk no 16: Austria! Friday, August 14, 2015

I had been climbing up Austrian Alpine hills and busied myself tasting through one wine cellar after another – all for you, my HeinzelCheeseTalk faithfuls! There is so much more exciting cheese to be discovered in our (mostly) idyllic neighbor country than most of us would expect. And so much gorgeous wine, of course, where this time I focussed on Grüner Veltliner in its concentrated, delicious form. All of this we explored together upon my return to Berlin, loaded with good stuff.

HCT AustriaFirst of all a compliment not only to you, who came so numerously and so excitedly to sit at our table in Markthalle Neun in spite very summery temperatures, but also to the cheeses, who had stood the test of transport under those same conditions much better than one would normally expect. And it was worth all the effort and sweat, because our alpine neighbor country had decided to treat us with real moments of glory…

We started with an extra-curricular, very refreshing Basque country cider (thanks Wernher!), then moved on to the very fine Müller-Thurgau from Winzerverein Hagnau on (German) Lake Constance, slowly approaching Austria, so to say. Without any planning behind, the small, white-mouldy soft goat cheese from Josef Pranz in the Innviertel made for a very lovely companion – not goaty at all, as someone noticed positively surprised, offering instead discreet acidity and on-the-tongue melting texture. The next cheese, a goat Camembert from Tirol, tasted much stronger and more rustic and made for a much more demanding match with Martin Muthentalers 2012 Veltliner from the Spitzer Graben/Wachau… Then a classic, Bachensteiner from the Sibratsgfäll dairy in Bregenzerwald. This „stinky“ rind-washed soft cheese in the shape of a small brick has been traditionally produced by alpine cheese makers as a faster ripening alternative to the large mountain hard cheeses; something to eat yourself instead of selling. And as summoned by some cheesy (benevolent) ghost in this very moment Gerhard Beer walked by, who sells this (and many more, very good) cheeses from the Bregenzerwald at his  Menze stall in the Markthalle (as well as in a new shop in Wilmersdorf’s Niebuhr/Bleibtreustraße).

Paget KäseIn our glasses we travelled to Burgenland, with the Groszer’s Gemischter Satz, mixed white planting, from the Suff excellent wine store’s collection, and after that moved back to the Danube, or more exactly to its tributary the Traisen, with Veltliner Berg Reserve from Markus Huber, refreshing and intensely tropically fruited. To be followed by a surprise, embraced by all of you with great enthusiasm: Veltliner Michelsberg from the Palatinate in Germany! Peter Klein from Weingut Gerhard Klein in Hainfeld worked with the famous FX Pichler in the Wachau and had so fallen in love with Veltliner that on his return he planted some at home. His wine had a very seductive hint of honey that seemed weightless and proved to be very cheese-friendly.

Paget BüffelAfter a very special, one year old mountain hard cheese from Alpe Loch we moved on to Robert Paget’s unusual (and excellent) „Taleggio“ (pictured above) from Diendorf in the Kamptal region (another Danube tributary). Robert is the only Austrian cheese maker with water buffalos (besides goats), and if you can’t go and meet him on his picturesque farm, you absolutely have to watch this beautiful video.  Then, a sheep detour, with the ash coated fresh cheese from the Nuart family that had been highly recommended by the friendly and very knowledgeable folks of kaes.at at the gorgeous (and literarilly hot) Karmelitermarkt farmers market in Vienna. And rightly so – such a sweet, mineral, savory and dense consolidation of great milk – first there was sudden silence around the table, always a good sign, then, very slowly, a deeeep „mmmmh“ arose from your cheese lovers‘ hearts and souls…

OttFinally, two blue cheeses. First Robert Paget’s ten months aged one (pictured above), in texture and sweetness reminiscent of nougat in a totally good way, again made from buffalo milk. An exceptional cheese. Dessert and cheese in one, the naturally high fat content beautifully balanced, like whipped lardo, and not a hint of sharpness. A real moment of glory in HeinzelCheeseTalk history, as by then our glasses were filled with the 2003 Veltliner Reserve (from the Rosenberg site) from Bernhard Ott, the Wagram Veltliner wizard; likewise „slimmed down“ and structured by age in its intense, rich beauty. Oh praise to you cheese gods, and you, serendipity… Because with the Nuart family’s sheep blue cheese, this love at first sight evolved into an intimate, loving trio – and we around the table urgently needed a good sip of the lighter style, refreshing Ehmoser Veltliner from the Suff shelves, to get us down from the cheese clouds on to firm Markthalle ground.

By the way: as you probably noted, this website has been redesigned, finally (big thanks due to ever so patient Stefan Kraft!), and I now use Tiny Letter for the mailing list in order to make things a little easier. Any comments welcome – cheesio and see you soon!

HeinzelCheeseTalks take place regularly, usually on a Friday at 6pm at Markthalle Neun in Berlin-Kreuzberg. I bring some interesting cheese, open a few bottles of wine, and we sit around the large table opposite the Suff wine stall, tasting, drinking, talking, discussing (mostly in German – but we usually manage to cater to English speakers too). Invites are sent out about ten days before we meet, to a mailing list you can join here. Reservations need to be confirmed and are strictly by first come first serve – so be quick! And please do let me know if you can’t make it – there is always a waiting list.  A donation of ten euros per person (or one or two euros more if you really had a lot of fun…) is much appreciated. Cheesio! 

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