Pub Klemo: The Civilised Drinker

When sampling wines, drinking becomes a fine art. In six courses, this locale will make a sommelier out of any of us

At this wine-lover’s paradise, the “veritas” comes by region, here: Eastern Austria | Photo: David Reali

Let us be clear, this is not your usual restaurant review. Because Pub Klemo in the 5th District is not your usual restaurant. We didn’t fully understand that when we walked out of the cold and into the wine bar and Magazin.

Through the front room and up a few stairs, we were seated at a corner booth with a fresh bottle of water already awaiting us. Peeling off layers of coats, sweaters and scarves, we settled in for a six-course event.

Topographical maps of wine regions were displayed beneath the glass table-tops. Old wine bottles stood on shelves above the red upholstered benches and clever posters depicting various cheeses, an illustration of a drunk “wine-ocerus” and more wine maps scattered the walls. Ten minutes went by before we realised we hadn’t so much as glanced at the menu.

When we finally opened the Weinkarte, we saw it was a good thing we weren’t starving. There were only three food options: a fennel soup with Pernod, boeuf bourguignon with homemade tagliatelle, or chicken tagliatelle with tomatoes and coconut. The only dessert was a cranberry chocolate cake. The food was almost hidden on the menu, just a side note to the wine.

Each week, Pub Klemo offers two new Wochenthemen – a set menu of six wines produced in a similar manner and from neighbouring geographic areas. Our choices were the “Tour de France” (€15) and the “Cuvée Österreich” (€17). Feeling as patriotic as is possible for a couple of expats, we decided on the Austrian wines.

Soon after ordering, our waitress arrived carrying a tray packed to the rim with 12 wine glasses – having done this countless times before, she served us with ease. The glasses were labelled with the letters A through F – each letter corresponded to one of the six Austrian blends.

We began smelling and noting the visual characteristics of the first wine on our list, the Cuvée Veratina by Weninger. This blend of Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Merlot and Cabernet had an initial taste of sulphides. After allowing the wine some time to breathe, its unpleasant aroma subsided, but not entirely. Underneath the cloak of sulphur, we were disappointed to discover a wine high in acidity with sharp tannins and little body. Without food, it offered little to nothing special. Having consumed less than half the glass we decided to move on to the other, hopefully more enjoyable wines.

Our second glass was Maria Kerschbaum’s Cuvée Davids Show Reserve. Without even looking at our wine list, it was clear that what we were tasting was a reserve – the higher alcohol content, the darker and denser colour, and the aroma of wood…

Still not entirely satisfied, we moved on to the third wine, Markowitsch’s Cuvée Redmont. This blend of Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Blaufränkisch and Merlot was delicate and delightful. Of all the wines tasted, this was the roundest, the most consistent and fruity. The complexity of flavours exploded on our tongues, and with every sip, a new note, aroma and characteristic revealed itself. As well as having a sweet finish, several fruits could be identified, including plums and blackberries. Having thoroughly enjoyed it and not expecting the remaining wines to top this one, we left our glasses almost full to save the best for last.

As expected, the last three wines did not live up to the third. The Cuvée Pannobile by H&A Nitthaus wasn’t the worst, but also not the best, and hence the least memorable.

Between each glass we drank and swilled water to clear our palate. Fischer’s Cuvée Gradenthal, containing Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, was the third runner-up. Although it had a slightly acidic aftertaste, this wine was considerably round and drinkable.

In second place, we decided, was Lemathum’s Cuvée Hallebühl. Also a complex and surprising wine, it was smooth, full-bodied and slightly sweet with residual sugars. Most interesting of all was trying to identify the different layers of fruits hidden within. Between the two of us, we tasted wild berries, cherry, fragolino, a hint of vanilla and something else we couldn’t quite put our finger on.

When our waitress came to clear our table, we guarded the Cuvée Redmont and the Cuvée Hallebühl, wanting to savour them to the last drop.

Our boeuf bourguignon arrived. Having thoroughly enjoyed the Cuvée Redmont 2002, we ordered a bottle of the 2008, which although wasn’t as impressive or expensive, was still worth €26.50. The bourguignon was not the best that we had ever eaten; it lacked zest, we agreed (nothing a little salt and pepper couldn’t fix), but it was amply soft, and the homemade tagliatelle were fresh and al dente. All things considered, it was satisfying and hearty – and for only €10, a pleasant surprise and uncommon at a wine bar.

Rosy-cheeked and slightly slurring, we sat and studied the poster just above our table – a French illustration depicting the seven steps of le buveur civilisé – the civilised drinker. Unfortunately, we couldn’t experience the first three: uncorking, smelling the cork and slowly pouring. Even so, we took great pleasure in the remaining four: olfactory assessment, mental preparation, tasting, and especially l’appréciation.

 

Pub Klemo
Mon.–Fri. from 17:00
Closed Sat., Sun., and Jun.–Aug.
5., Margaretenstraße 61
0699 1109 1332
www.pubklemo.at

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