Rosenhof in Illmitz has long been an address associated with viticulture of the highest international standards. Starting in 1947, our grandparents practiced both viticulture and farming, but after 1969 our parents concentrated only on wine. Over the years a hotel with its own restaurant has become a successful addition to our enterprise. Today over 14 hectares of vineyards are under cultivation - the vines are in an ideal position with sandy, gravelly and humus-rich soil ensuring the production of full-bodied reds, fruity whites and fantastic dessert wines.
“Every vintage is a challenge for me. Wine needs not only the right touch, but also knowledge, experience, good judgement and a certain willingness to take risks.”
Sixty percent of our vineyards are planted with red wine varieties like Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. The focus of our white wines centres on Welschriesling, Chardonnay and Muscat varieties. Our grapes are handpicked and carefully selected while still on the vine, which guarantees our high quality. The work we carry out in the wine-cellar takes place n a meticulous manner in a calm environment. Oak barrels and stainless steel vats give the wine a quiet haven before being bottled.
“Many of our vineyards are planted around the ponds in Seewinkel - unique, beautiful and an absolute privilege for our vines.”
The climate plays a very important role in the development of the Noble Rot. The constant wet weather in late summer and autumn with warm temperatures leads to a rapid development of the mould. If this is followed by long periods of fair weather, the Botrytis fungus extracts water from the grapes, simultaneously concentrating the sugar. We have the Noble Rot to thank for noble late harvest and dessert wines like the Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese varieties.
Waiting for the ice wine is always an anxious time. For us this means watching the weather very closely. When will temperatures fall to -7°C? Ice wines are always harvested at a temperature of at least -7°C because the grapes must be frozen through. As a result the harvest usually takes place on starlit nights when it gets really cold. Quick decisions and spontaneity are therefore vital. The amount of wine is small because only the essence is pressed out of the grapes. The result is a highly concentrated wine with powerful acidity, an ideal counterpart to its intense sweetness.
Lake Neusiedl, with its large surface area of water, acts as a temperature buffer for the wine region and provides warmth and humidity during the night. The growing season is around 250 days long and the unique micro-climate provides the ideal conditions for viticulture. In summary: rare late frosts in spring, a dry summer with minimal temperature fluctuations and a warm late summer period. The “Seewinkel” region in northern Burgenland is the warmest area in Austria, with 61 days in summer reaching temperatures over 25°C.
“As a winemaker, I always try to engage with the different wine varieties in order to reveal their different characters.”
Waiting for the ice-wine! An unsettling time full of suspense! For us it means foremost to constantly monitor the weather. When will we get the requised minus 7°Celsius? Icewines can only be harvested when the temperature is –7°C or lower. The grapes have to be frozen all the way through. Often the harvest will start at 4am in the early morning. The nights are almost always crystal clear when it gets really crispy cold. Fast decisions and spontaneity are called for. Equally important: fast hands for a fast finish. When the grapes are loaded onto the truck we are heading home right away. Unloading and crushing of the frozen grapes is not that easy. Everything needs to be done deliberately and carefully so that neither the grapes nor the machines are damaged. Only the highly concentrated extract is pressed out of the grapes so the yield is usually very tiny. Depending on the vintage the crushing will take between two to ten hours. The juice of the icewine is very clear and has a light colour. The alcoholic fermentation proceeds very slowly, sometimes it will take well into March to be completed.
The grapes should not be too ripe so that they can last longer on the vines. We protect them against hungry birds with extensive netting. We usually produce Eiswein of Welschriesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes which have at least 25° KMW ( Klosterneuburger Mostwaage, an Austrian or 125° Öchsle) ripeness. In rare vintages we will produce Eiswein also from red grape material.
Ausbruch Dolce Clara
„Ausbruch“ is a very traditional style of wine in Austria, a real specialty from Lake Neusiedl in the Burgenland. The Ausbruch is a relative of the famous sweet Aszú wines made in Tokaj, Hungary. Probably both terms were created simultaneously around the end of the 17th century. In previous times Ausbruch was produced by blending the juice of freshly harvested grapes with the must of Furmint grapes affected by noble rot (botrytis). But Furmint is barely being grown around here any more. Today, Ausbruch designates a quality level of 27° KMW, equal to approximately 135° Öchsle.
Beerenauslese (BA or berry selection)
This is one of the four rare and overripe predicate levels. The berry selections make very fine
wines loaded with deep substance and complex flavors and shining like yellow bright gold. As the name indicates, they are produced from berries which are hand selected one by one from grape clusters which have usually been infected by noble rot. The liquid nectar made in a laborious process are fine and honey-sweet, representing the essence of the grapes used.
BAs are starting at 25° KMW ( 125° Öchsle)
Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA)
Trockenbeerenauslese – the highest level of predicate wines
According to the old method 90 to 100% noble rot grapes are harvested in the vineyards with berry selection. These grapes will then be weighed in kilograms (kg) by an Official Must Master to determine the must weight. It has to be higher than 30° KMW (150°Öchsle) to qualify as a TBA. In the press house the grapes will then be macerated in a tank. The grapes are lightly pressed so that the juice can be extracted. In the next two to three days that same juice is poured over these grapes so that eventually they are completely leached.
The new method starts with the same harvest by berry selection of 90 to 100% noble rot grapes. Just like with the old method the Official comes and weighs the gradation of the must. But then the grapes are loaded into the press and the crush starts right away. The fermentation is initiated on the next day and lasts usually 3 to 4 weeks. Later the wine is separated from the grape pulp and put into a different tank where it sits on the fine yeasts until spring. If the wine is kept in stainless steel tanks it will be bottled in the same year. If it matures in small barriques it can take several months or even years before we bottle the wine.
The advantages of the modern method are that the fruit flavors are preserved better by reductive processing. Oxidation takes place in a very limited way and the juice stays fresh. Another result of reductive processing and yeast soil storage is a lighter color of the wine.