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Uhudler

Designation for a typical Austrian or Burgenland wine type of rustic style. The Uhudler was born at the beginning of the 20th century and was, so to speak, caused by the phylloxera catastrophe. After the appearance of the pest in the second half of the 19th century, phylloxera-resistant American grape varieties were introduced, which were then also (as one of the many unsuccessful attempts) crossed with European vines to transfer this resistance. It was only later that the real solution was discovered, namely grafting (grafting) European scions onto American rootstocks. However, American vines were also cultivated in their original ungrafted state and wines were made from them. Such ungrafted vines are called direct carriers, regardless of their origin.

Uhudler - Weintraube und Uhudlerflasche

This term developed into a negatively understood synonym for the American vines or direct bearer wines par excellence, which is not correct, because American vine does not necessarily mean "direct bearer" (i.e. true to its roots). In southern Burgenland the wines from different American vines were called Uhudler, so it is a collective term. Some cause the strawberry aroma or the penetrating foxtone; an unpleasant taste for European terms. It should be mentioned, however, that "Foxton" and "strawberry aroma" mostly occur together, but have different substances causing the off-tones, but are not the same. These tones were the main reason for the rejection.

One of the main opponents of these wines from American vines was Fritz Zweigelt (1888-1964). In 1929 a labelling obligation was introduced, in 1936 a ban on planting and in 1937 also a ban on blending was introduced. After the war, the time limit for the grubbing up of 75% of the direct carrier vine areas, which had been decreed in 1937, expired. In 1961 there was a traffic ban (serving and sale) for the Uhudler, it was only allowed to be produced for own consumption as a house drink. And finally in 1985 the Uhudler was declared a "non-wine". This all contributed to the (unjustified) bad reputation. The fact that it is said to contain high levels of methanol (wood spirit) and fusel oil, making it "stupid and blind" and a "rabiat pearl" has long been scientifically disproved. A high methanol content is due to improper pressing and has no connection whatsoever with American vines or ungrafted vines (direct carriers). Actually, Uhudler wine is an organic product par excellence, because the resistance of the varieties to fungal diseases (as well as phylloxera) means that almost no spraying or fertilizing is necessary. From 1992 onwards, a "decriminalisation" was then carried out.

Growing area and grape varieties

Today, the Uhudler may be produced and also marketed to a limited extent in eight municipalities in the wine-growing region of Southern Burgenland. In a wine cellar in the municipality of Heiligenbrunn there is the "Uhudler-Vinothek", where wines from the different grape varieties can be tasted and purchased. When Austria joined the EU, it applied for classification for the seven varieties used for the Uhudler. These were Concord (or Ripatella, which at that time was still considered a separate variety), Delaware, Elvira, Isabella, Noah and Othello. These are American hybrids, which are mostly grown rootless (as direct carriers). Of these, the three varieties Isabella, Noah and Othello have been banned in principle by the EU for the production of wine.

Uhudlersorten - Elvira, Delaware und Concord

The other three varieties are crosses with parts of Vitis vinifera genes. Accordingly, they are approved for wine according to the EU regulation (see also under quality wine grape varieties). Nevertheless, there was a lot of excitement in 2016 because certain varieties had a limited cultivation permit with a term of 2030. There were considerations to market the Uhudler as fruit wine. The now nine approved varieties are Concord (Ripatella), Delaware and Elvira (as before), as well as the six newly added Amadeus, Bogni 15, Bolero, Boris, Breidecker and Evita. All contain genes from Viti vinifera, thus complying with EU regulations. There is no longer a temporary planting permit for the nine varieties. According to the criteria set by the province of Burgenland, the Uhudler may only be marketed as wine (formerly table wine) as before.

Origin of the name

About the origin of the original name there are at least two versions: In the past, winegrowers often spent up to a week in the cellar during the grape harvest and the subsequent work. When they returned home after this exhausting time with also intensive wine enjoyment with "rings under the eyes", their wives reacted with the remark: "You look like an eagle owl. "In a second version, the name is attributed to the plutzer, a clay vessel used for the eagle owl and locally known as the "Udler". In Styria, a wine is also produced from these varieties, but the name Uhudler may only be used in southern Burgenland. Therefore, in the province of Styria it is sometimes called "Juhudler", "S'Uhudler" and "Suhudler" or after the frequently used variety "Isabella".

In 2011 the Uhudler was accepted as a "passenger" of the "Ark of Taste". It is thus one of the food and drink products awarded by the Slow Food association that should be protected and preserved from the threat of industrial agriculture and the food industry. Other wines from American vines include Americano (Switzerland) and Fragolino (Italy). However, some of the varieties used also do not comply with EU regulations on the production of quality wine; see in detail under hybrids and quality wine grape varieties.

further information

All aids, work and measures in the vineyard during the vegetation cycle can be found under vineyard care. A complete list of the numerous cellar techniques, as well as the types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law can be found under vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under wine law.

Grape up: Ewald Maly by Flickr.com
Elvira, Delaware, Concord: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)

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