Der Pollerhof

The Weinviertel (Wine Quarter) is the largest wine growing region in Austria. Roughly speaking, it occupies the north-east corner of the country. Eventually, it will be further divided, and some already speak of a Western Part, an Eastern part and a Southern part. But the Weinviertel is really an archipelago of wine islands set in the middle of a vast, rolling farmland. You can drive in it for many miles and never see a single vine. Then suddenly there will be, surrounding a village, nothing but vines. Roschitz is one such vine island in the Western Weinviertel.

A tiny village about five miles from the Czech border, without a single restaurant, it’s as quiet as a hamlet can be. But there is a long Kellergasse, a narrow lane with wine cellars dug into the earth on either side. Most of these are simple cellars for private use, but at least one of them is quite special.

This is Pollerhof. (The winery itself is on another road, which is also where Ervin Poller lives.) In the cellar, you can walk downstairs, where various things including bottled wines are stored, or upstairs at ground level, where there is a tasting space as well as a small stage at the end where intimate events are held, readings, little plays, etc. It is very simple. Outside, in the back, the vines, in this case Gelber Muskateller, gently slope away down to the main road. It is quite an idyllic place. Ervin Poller is a one-man operation. He works organically (but has refused to be classified) and produces wines from an almost bewildering number of grapes.

Grüner Veltliner is the main thing, but there is also some Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller, Traminer, Malvasia, Müller-Thurgau, Zweigelt, Blauburger (which is not the same thing as Blauburgunder), Cabernet, Gamay, Syrah, and a number of blend wines. In short, this is a very busy fellow. The Poller family has been making wine and farming for something over 300 years. Erwin’s grandfather, Johann Poller, began to make wine exclusively in 1920. He would cart his wines in barrel to Vienna, a trip that took three days, sell them, and then return. He is shown on the unique and charming label. Now with a about 20 hectares of property, 10-15 of which are planted in vines, Erwin still does most everything himself, including letting his chickens spend the day in the vineyards, fertilizing as well as devouring various insects. He makes for us one of our splendid Grüner Veltliner liter wines, quite full in body and rather richer and more serious than most liters. He also has excellent Veltliner from the Galgenberg (Gallows Hill), Phelling and his top wine, the Frau Mayer, a small vineyard with very old vines.

The grapes for all wines are picked by hand. Only ripe, clean grapes are used for winemaking. Small boxes are used for the gentle transport of the grapes from the vineyard to the cellar. The grapes are pressed with one of the most gentle presses on the market. Stalks are damaged as little as possible and so no bitterness is released into the must. Wines are vinified mostly in stainless steel using his own yeast culture, developed over the years. Soils are very complex. The Galgenberg, for instance, is mostly loess with chalk and granite below. Frau Mayer is 100% granite based. There is a virtual swirl of minerals in a number of the vineyards, all of which contribute to the unique flavors of his wines.

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