When a distinguished sommelier hooks up with a Hauben chef
Hermann Botolen is one of Austria’s top-sommeliers; Gault Millau declared him sommelier of the year 2016. Two years ago he opened his own restaurant, Fuhrmann, in Vienna’s 8th district. With Hauben-chef Sascha Hoffmann in the kitchen – his most impressive stations being Steiereck and Tian -, we expectantly looked forward to an exciting evening of wine-food combinations.
Although it is far from impossible to get French wine in Vienna, the vast majority of wines served in restaurants is Austrian, followed by German and Italian. Botolen apparently has a weak spot for Gallic ambrosia, creating a welcome change from all the Grüner Veltliners we have drunk in recent months.
Given Botolen’s credentials we opted for the five-course menu with wine pairing. We settled in with some Wurzelspeck (smoked Alpine speck from the pork belly) spiced up with some grated, fiery fresh Kren (horseradish), a simple but good amuse that, with a glass of oxidated Savagnin from the Jura, whetted our appetite successfully.
Kohlrabi and rabbit in heirloom spelt
The amuse set the tone for the entire evening: most dishes were good, with a focus on high-quality produce (meat from Höllerschmid, for instance), and became better with the matching wine. The most interesting wine may have been the Gemischter Satz from Herrengut Lamprechter in Styria. A Gemischter Satz consists of several grape varieties, often from one plot of land, that are fermented together. In this case the grapes came from an old vineyard where up to 60 varieties survived, giving the wine a complex, subtly flowery bouquet. More importantly, it really worked well with the kohlrabi in the first dish.
Chalutier Syrah 2007
On the food side, the main course, tender lamb with a good, intense lamb flavor, stood out, as did the accompanying spicy medium-bodied Syrah Hermitage 2007 by Chapoutier, an absolute stunner. Worth mentioning too was the paprika soup with caraway and a hint of sharp piment that was wonderfully set off by an orange Chardonnay/Riesling (50/50) from weingut Karl Schnabel. This natural wine from Styria – skin fermented, hence the cognac colour – proved that Riesling can be a friend of other grape varieties provided it is produced by a good vintner.
Paprika soup with a matching orange wine from Karl Schnabel
A typical Austrian Topfenkuchen (cheesecake) with different citrus structures and vanille cream concluded our dinner. I am not a huge fan of cheesecakes – often too heavy – but Topfenkuchen I have come to like. Just as at Gut Purbach this one was quite light and almost fluffy.
Zander with potato-blunz'n Gröstl
Fuhrmann provides a good dining experience that is more classical compared to the trendy wine bistros such MAST, Heunisch & Erben and O boufés, but due the personal, sympathetic touch of Botolen and his wife Barbara Koth and the emphasis on French wines, it definitely fills a niche in the Viennese dining scene. Looking back I would say Hoffmann’s cooking was good, but somewhat conservative – a tad more ambition and adventure would be a plus. It is, however, the wine-food combinations that make this restaurant a place to go.
Botolen knows his Schnapps too
T: +43 1 944 4324
Five-course menu: €59,-
Wine pairing: €40,-
Gault Millau: 2 toques (15/20)