With 2016 over and gone for good, and the shocks like the Brexit, Trump, and the untimely demise of Long Hui (it was a panda, in case you are wondering) finally becoming accepted reality, it is time to look at the truly important outcome of the year, that is whether we are to celebrate the rise of a new king of Brettljausen.
The short answer is no. Not only the king, but also all the top five Brettljause vendors had nothing to worry about. All in all, it was a rather average Brettljause year, with no surprises either on the good or the bad ends of the spectrum.
With 50 Jausen tasted and reviewed, 2016 was 28% down from the last year’s record (excluding four or five returning visits, which are not counted unless they affect the ratings), which was actually fully anticipated. Despite shrinking in the magnitude, the Brettljause hunt has expanded geographically, reaching into the previously little explored Carinthia and even such unexpected regions as the Lake Garda and Tuscany in Italy. At 5.3, the average overall rating was slightly down, back to its 2014’s value, again reflecting the fact that very few of the newly discovered Brettljausen were on par with the established champions. That is another reason to celebrate those that have made it to the top!
This year, the third place and the Bronze Brettl are shared between Bergheuriger Fürstenstand in Graz and Mostheuriger Steurer Gutenmann in Lower Austria. The Fürstenstand’s Brettljause, although not perfect, impressed by its authenticity despite the potentially touristic location. Gutenmann, on the other hand, turned out to be a hidden gem in the area close – but not too close – to Vienna, providing a nice view in addition to a great choice of Jausen and quality Most.
The second place and the Silver Brettl deservingly belong to Reikersdorfer’s Presshausheuriger, the last “Mostbaron Heuriger” that remained unvisited in the Mostviertel region of the Lower Austria. They don’t bestow the Mostbaron title lightly, and the fresh taste of the local produce was worth every kilometer I spent trying to reach that place.
Finally, the top accolades and the Golden Brettl of 2016 go to the “Jausenplatte” of BergpfeffeR in Vorderstoder, Upper Austria, which combined a perfect location (the view on the Stodertal and the surrounding mountains is amazing) with friendly service and some of the best Schweinsbraten in the world.
In addition to the second place, the Reikersdorfer’s also wins the taste, variety and value contests, succumbing to the excellent Erlacherhaus in Carinthia in the authenticity category, to the rather ghastly Kaiblingalmhütte in Styria when it comes to size, and to the seriously relaxing Almhütte Plätzwiese in the South Tyrol in terms of atmosphere and service. Vienna’s Weingut Weinhandwerk deserves an honorable mention for its creativity, which made it confidently march to the third place in Vienna’s ratings.
The fourth place overall – but on the other end of the scale – now belongs to the bar Al Baretto in Salò by the Lake Garda. The less is said about it, the better. Back in Austria, Neu Brasilien in the 22nd district of Vienna has managed to disappoint in almost every aspect, with breaded black pudding being the last nail in its Brettljause’s coffin.