Umathum is a family-owned estate in the Austrian region of Burgenland close to the famous Neusiedlersee, a great lake acting as a moderator of temperatures throughout the seasons, softening the effects of both the hot continental summers and freezing central European winters. It also regularly provides perfect conditions for the formation of the botrytis fungus (aka noble rot) that allows the production of wonderful sweet wines.
Some of the vineyards here are mentioned in records dating back to the early 13th century and the Umathum family have been in place since the mid-18th century. The estate itself was founded in 1958 and in 1985 Josef 'Pepi' Umathum took over the running of the estate from his parents, armed with a degree in landscape architecture and experience in the wineries of Burgundy, Provence and Bordeaux. Over time the vineyard area has increased form the original 10 acres to nearly 90, spread over a variety of soils embracing slate, limestone, clay and gravel. A wide spectrum of grape varieties are cultivated, from famous international names to lesser-known natives such as the indigenous lindenblättrige (also known as hárslevelü in Hungary). Josef believes that his preference for traditional, local grapes and love of the land beneath the vines means that his wines might be regarded as 'liquid folk tales' and he farms biodynamically in order to allow the terroir as much expression as possible. He even employs sheep to roam the vineyards as natural mowers of the competing plants.
Though famous for the red wines of the estate Josef makes several wonderful sweet wines, of which we buy the vibrant chardonnay-scheurebe Beerenauslese blend.