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Palais Coburg: Viennese Wine Cellar with Substance

Posted: Thursday, 16 June 2011 14:39

Palais Coburg: Viennese Wine Cellar with Substance

June 16: Vienna has a lot to offer a tourist including beautiful vineyards and wineries around town but tucked away in the basements of the 5-star Deluxe Hotel Palais Coburg is an exceptional unique wine cellar with a fine wine inventory of around € 25 million, writes Subhash Arora who visited and tasted several fine wines including a 1934 Burgundy, a living example of the rare wines and a must-visit place for any wine lover choosing Vienna as a holiday destination.

It may not be the biggest or fanciest wine cellar in the world but the rare and fine wines stored at proper temperature and different levels and inter-connected sections in the historical building going back to 16th century make the visit very palatable and educational.

The total collection is stored in 8 sections, 2 of which are the close by- warehouses. The 6 cellars are interconnected and have different storage themes. The French cellar is understandably the biggest in size and storage with almost half the total of over 60,000 wine bottles being in this section.

The penchant of the hotel owner who is a Swiss banker, for Sauternes wines, especially from Chateau d’Yquem is obvious when one walks past The Yquem Cellar which has 120 vintages! The oldest vintage is 1811!! The golden colour seems to shimmer even more when one knows that the vault in which the wines are kept was build in 16th century. Champagne lovers have a treat for the eyes with a separate Champagne Cellar which has 1600 rare and fine bottles with a skew towards Dom Pérignon, the 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar being a joy for the eyes and makes you salivate.

The Old World Cellar has wines from Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Oddly, Spain and Portugal have been relegated to the New World Cellar which stores top wines from Australia, USA and South America.

But the apple of the eye is The Rare Wine Cellar with exclusive collection of rare wines going back to eighteenth century. The oldest vintage  is not a Bordeaux but a German wine- Rudesheimer Apostlewein 1727 which the owners claim is still drinkable and is the oldest drinkable wine in the world. Chateau Lafite Rothschild is the oldest Bordeaux. La Tache 1945 from DRC (Domaine Romanée Conti), Chateau Latour 1945 and Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 represent what is considered perhaps the finest vintage of the previous century. Those who may disagree will find their choice of First Growths too- 1961 Chateaux Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Pétrus as also a Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle from this astounding vintage.

An interesting section is named The Haram, the oldest section of the building which one reaches through a ‘Golden Walk’. The floor of the passage as one walks towards it from The Yquem Cellar is inlayed with verses that the great Sultan Suleiman wrote on wine in the early 16th century. As the Cellar master David Fassl explained, when translated, they exhort the virtue of drinking wine from Franconia (Franken) in Germany. 

Another interesting corner of the Wine Cellar is The Wine Vault where special tastings are held. I was privileged enough to enjoy tasting the king of Austrian dessert wines, Kracher, as our visit ended with a guided tasting of a range of Kracher TrockenBeerenAuslese sweet wines by the young owner Gerhard Kracher. 

Visit and Taste at the Cellar

Undoubtedly a rare site for most wine connoisseurs, the Cellar may be visited by paying anywhere from € 35- €6,500. The daily guided visit to the cellar costs € 35 that includes the complete guided visit and a glass of Pol Roger champagne- and is absolutely recommended. One would go bananas clicking away at those rarely seen beauties.

For €6500 you have the opportunity of visiting the cellar but tasting the best vintage of the century- 1961. After a glass of Dom Pérignon, you will be treated to a flight of 12 labels of the legendary 1961 vintage that you normally only read and dream about- Ducru Beaucaillou, Gruaud Larose, Lynch- Bages, Montrose, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, La Mission, Latour ả Pomerol, Pétrus, Cheval Blanc Hermitage La Chapelle and top it off by a d’Yquem 1961. 

The 1961 horizontal tasting on November 5 to be conducted by Serena Sutcliffe MW and Frank Smulders MW who will also conduct the first Fine and Rare Wine Course with Dr. Joseph (Pepi) Schuller MW from October 31, is a part of the annual Coburg Wine Open 2011, an event held annually.

If it does sound a bit too pricy, there are cheaper and more affordable options- like a Burgundy Grand Cru tasting with vintages as old as 1934 (the oldest wine that I tasted at the Cellar) – the experience costing less than Rs.100,000 (€1,500).

If you are a wine connoisseur who love to live life king style, Palais Coburg Wine Archive as it is named, is a place that has to be in your itinerary as a must-visit spot. For others, a regular visit to the Archives would never be regret.

For details, write directly to the cellar master Thomas Fassl


Subhash Arora



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