I hope no one takes offense at my next comment, but there’s a lot of sameness about the wines from Austria – but that’s not a bad thing. When you walk in the door you know you’re going to get a lot of Gruner Veltliner and Riesling (whites) mixed with some Zweigelt and St. Laurent (reds); but mostly a lot of the whites, say 80% white to 20% red. It’s a perfect tasting as we head into summer, for easy sipping and for light food pairings. The only problem with so many Gruners and Rieslings is breaking out of the sameness that exists in the room – and some do, with interesting cellar work (barrel ageing, wild fermentation, etc); others by using unique varietals or combinations of varieties; while still others find interesting names for their wines that are appealing to the new world consumer. One thing’s for sure in this room, there’s lots of acidity, and lots of cruising dentists (who will be looking forward to your next visit because they are there to drum up business, loss of enamel strength and all).
The tasting book handed out at the event describes 9 Austrian “wine style” categories … let’s see if I can’t show some good examples of each with quotes from the guide (sorry some of these wines will never make it to Canada so prices are only mentioned when and if available) …
#1 – Sparkling Wine – “… a tradition that goes back to the 19th century.”
Weingut Brundlmayer Sekt Brut – a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that was very crisp, dry, toasty and bready. (****)
Steininger – a house that showed quite a few bubblies in their line-up, all done in the traditional method: 2008 Sekt Gruner Veltliner – a sweet petrol note along with a bit of bruised apple (***½). 2008 Sekt Riesling – nice mineral note with lemon and delicious apple (****). 2007 Traminer Sekt – one to two years on the lees and in bottle, the result is a floral-spiciness that’s very pleasurable and welcoming on the tongue (****½).
#2 – White Wine – Light and Fresh – “… lively, vibrant, and fit perfectly to any season.”
Weingut Stadt Krems 2009 Lossterrassen Gruner Veltliner – green apple and peach with good citrus and tropical fruit; this one will see Vintages locations in July for a mere $13.95 … well worth it. (****)
#3 – White Wine – Classic & Dry – “… filled with freshness, fine acidity, great elegance and plenty of character.”
Laurenz V. 2007 Charming Gruner Veltliner – Laurenz makes three Gruners each with a very catchy name: Singing, Friendly and Charming; each year I seem to gravitate towards one over the others in the line, this year it’s the Charming because it is so very (for lack of a better term) ‘charming’ indeed. Good lees contact creates a nice mouth feel with vanilla and a tropical tinge. This will be released thru Vintages (in Ontario) at the end of the year, that way you’ll be able to shovel your driveway and then deek into the house for a crisp cold glass of Gruner – or something like that … on the other hand why not just save it for next summer. (****)
Leopold 2009 Zechkumpan Gruner Veltliner – lots of grapefruit and lemon- and lime-ade with a very lovely and long finish. (****)
Loimer – two of my favourites here, not only is it good wine but the value is also very good, both wines are $17.95 and worth every penny. Starting with the Loimer 2009 Gruner Veltliner (green label) – fresh and lively with good acidity and a nice mineral aspect on the palate (****); then there’s the Loimer 2009 Riesling (orange label) – another fresh and lively wine, this one has peach, pear and apple fruit followed by good acidity and a crisp, clean finish (****).
Nigl 2009 Senftenberger Piri Rheinriesling - good mineral quality with limeade and apple notes. (****)
Huber 2009 Obere Steigen Gruner Veltliner – nice complexity with some prickly pear and nice tropical fruit, look for the pleasant finish to stick around a long time. (****)
Sattlerhof 2009 Steirische Klassik Sauvignon Blanc – a lovely fresh, fruity and tropical number with peach, lime and a very nice grapefruit cocktail finish – a delicious stainless steel savvy b from Southern Austria. (****)
Tement 2007 Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc – this one sees some barrel ageing and fermentation so there’s vanilla amongst the grassiness and tropical flavours – creamy on the palate, very interesting and very good. (****½)
#4 – White Wine – Powerful & Full Bodied – “… vinified dry with body and extract, opulence and concentration.”
I had no wines reviewed that fell into this category.
#5 – Rosé – Racy and Fruit-toned – “ … come from all over the country’s wine-growing areas and convey a wide range of expressions.”
Once again, I had nothing reviewed under this category.
#6 – Red Wine – Classic & Fruity – “… exude typically Austrian fruitiness … wines that reflect typicity of origin, elegance and pure drinking pleasure.”
Weingut 2006 Durrau Blaufrankisch – wild strawberries and cranberry with a nice hint of oak and spice. (****)
#7 – Red Wine – Compact & Concentrated – “… wines of complexity, depth and long ageing potential.”
Gernot und Heike Heinrich 2007 Alter Berg Blaufrankisch – this is a single vineyard offering that has spicy oak, blackberry, dried cassis and nice tannin structure. (****)
#8 – White Wine – Fruity Sweetness & Muscular Intensity – “… in the higher Spatlese and Auslese ranges …” There were plenty of good sweeties in this category.
#9 – Nobel Sweet Wines – “Characteristics of these sweet wine rarities are natural residuals of sweetness and high-concentrated acdity.”
Hans Tschida KG 2004 Schilfwein Zweigelt – strawberry smell, clean on the finish with a touch of spice and raspberry – one smooth, luscious sweetie. (****½)
Two numberless wines … these wines were extras that were not categorized by the catalogue:
Meinkleng 2008 Pinot Gris – pineapple core nose, lovely Mac apple fruit mixed with mineral and peach – clean ripe fruit finish.
Meinklong 2008 Pinot Noir – lovely sour cherry fruit, good acidity with an cranberry finish.
By the Numbers …
So, you’re probably wondering how many of each category was at the show? Well I have broken it all down, 1 thru 9, there were also some wines with the number ‘0’ beside them (they defied description – see above):
Category 1 = 5 wines.
Category 2 = 14 wines
Category 3 = 69 wines
Category 4 = 35 wines
Category 5 = 0 wines
Category 6 = 21 wines
Category 7 = 8 wines
Category 8 = 2 wines
Category 9 = 11 wines
Category 0 = 9 wines
How about the breakdown of wine varieties?
63 Gruner Veltliner, which was the most dominant, followed by 28 Rieslings (for the whites), the reds broke down like so: Zweigelt (13), Blaufrankisch (7) and St. Laurent (4). It was nice to see a number of Sauvignon Blancs (6) to break up the barrage of Gruners and Rieslings. Alright so it wasn’t that many, but it was still nice to see wines from that grape by a few producers.