Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Report from ... Austrian Wine Summit - April 21, 2011

I've tasted quite a bit of Austrian wine, but never in a lunch setting (there are a number of reasons for that - which I will not get into here - but the availability (or lack thereof) of Austrian wines is probably number one on my reason-hit parade).  But lunch pairing seems to be exactly what the Austrian's wanted to prove: their wines are a perfect match to some of your favourite dishes.  Sure they can talk about "food friendly", "great acidity", "lovely wines for all seasons" - but when you get the food on the table and the glass is sitting there waiting to see if the pairing works, that's when the truth comes out.

The day started with a 9-wine seminar about a variety of Austrian wines:

Tilt your head to the right to see the best Savvy B of the day

Hannes Sabathi 2010 Sauvignon Blanc led it off ... I would have to say that I am rightfully impressed with Austrian Sauvignon Blanc.  This one had a lovely fruit nose with a steely mineral finish (****).  This was followed by a Riesling that seemed run of the mill and vaguely uninteresting.  Wines 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were all made from Austria's signature grape Gruner Veltliner: all six were from different regions - Niederosterreich, Wagram, Kamptal (x2) Kremstal, Wachau - and all showed the differences in style that can come from this grape, proving that Gruner is not a one trick pony.  Wine 3 (from Nigl) showed lentils and lime; Wine 4 (Leth) showed an array of melon, citrus and mineral; while Wine 5 (Rabl) was kind of a light Chardonnay in its stylings: chalky, buttery, vanilla, green apple skin with a medium finish.  Wine 6 (Schloss Gobelsburg) was an oak aged number that still felt fresh, lively and really was delicious, especially for its age (2007) and knowing that oak had been part of its treatment made it seem doubly so.  Wine 7 (Salomon Undhof) was a little older (2006) and was starting to shows signs of oxidation on the finish; the final Gruner, Wine 8 (Schmelz) was minerally throughout. 

Leaving camp Gruner, the 9th and last wine of the seminar was a Blaufrankisch from Burgenland, which was a dusty display of oak on the palate but a real delight of dark fruit and spices on  the nose ... this one needs some time to integrate.

Best of the Wine Seminar ...

While I was very impressed with the Hannes Sabathi Sauvignon Blanc (****), as mentioned above, I found myself even more impressed with the depth and character of Wine 6: Schloss Gobelsburg 2007 Gruner Veltliner - Kammerner Lamm (****+)

Some Words About Austrian Wines ...
The seminar wasn't just about tasting wines, it was about re-introducing Austrian wine to a smaller more influential group that might help drive Austrian wines out of the shadows and onto your table ... the things to note about Austria is that it is not Australia - Austria is more about white based wines, is much smaller in acreage planted (46,000 hectares vs. 164,000) and you don't see as much Austrian wine on LCBO shelves as you do Australian - plus Austrian wine is amazingly lunchtime-food friendly.

Finally, the Other Wines ...
Through all of this talk about white wines and Gruner, my favourite wine was none of the above, in fact it was a Pinot Noir from Wien (Vienna): Wieninger 2007 Pinot Noir Grand Select - it hit all the right notes Pinot should hit and is both a pleasure on the nose and palate: cranberry, sour cherry, touch of vanilla, cinnamon, spice and fine tannins (**** 1/2)
Wieninger 2007 Pinot Noir Grand Select - **** 1/2

Having tried a plethora of whites during the seminar portion, I concentrated on reds, which proved to be fruity and accessible, as well as a few more varieties of whites; here is the best of the rest from this year's Austrian tasting:

Forsteiter 2009 Zweigelt ($12.95) - nice spiced raspberry and black cherry with cranberry nuances. (****)

Heinrich GesmbH 2008 St. Laurent ($32.00) - black cherry throughout with a hint of spice on the finish. (****+)

Meinhardt Hube 2009 Steinbach Sauvignon Blanc ($18.90) - tropical core with pear-like finish. (****)

Laurenz 2009 Friendly Gruner Veltliner ($16.95) - fresh and fruity with melon and pear notes. (****)

Stadlmann 2009 St. Laurent (N/A) - fresh, bold and black cherry with a hint of licorice, even better chilled. (****)
Stadlmann 2009 St. Laurent - chill and enjoy
 "Rabl" Rouser (showing consistency in three wines) ...
Of 5 wines, four offered excellent flavour, aromas and surprisingly good value.  One of those wines was part of the seminar and then there were these three:

Rabl 2010 Gruner Veltliner - Spiegel ($16.95) - melon, lime, hint of grapefruit and pear, very fresh especially due to the balancing acidity. (****)

Rabl 2009 St. Laurent ($18.00) - peppered cherries and cranberries with a white pepper and cranberry finish. (****)

Rabl 2007 Rielsing TBA ($47.95) - extraordinary sweetie with honeyed peach, apricot and lavender; a decadent dessert all on its own, amazing. (**** 1/2)
Rabl 2007 TBA - "decadent and amazing"

1 comment:

Dean Tudor said...

My take --

**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kracher Welschriesling Cuvee Beerenauslese 2008, $21.95 half-bottle
H.H.D. Imports
-Zahel Cuvee Antares Grand Reserve 2008 Wien, $41.90 Small Winemakers
-Wieninger Pinot Noir Grand Select Wien 2007, Le Sommelier

***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Andert St. Laurent Barrique Neusiedlersee 2008, $25.95 Wine & Leisure
-Forstreiter Grooner Gruner Veltliner 2010, $12.90 Lifford
-Heinrich GesmbH St. Laurent Burgenland 2008, $32 Andrews Group
-Meinhardt Hube Sauvignon Blanc Steinbach 2009 Sudsteiermark, $18.90
Carto Enterprise
-Leth Gruner Veltliner Wagram Steinagrund 2010, $16.95 Vergina
-Loimer Gruner Veltliner Kamptal, Le Sommelier
-Loimer Pinot Noir Terrassen 2007, Le Sommelier
-Meinklang Gruner Veltliner Neusiedlersee 2009, $15.95 The Living Vine
-Rabl Riesling Steinhaus 2010, $19.95 Thompson Vintage Trade
-Rabl Riesling TBA Kamptal 2007, $47.95 half-bottle Thompson Vintage
-Salomon Undhof Riesling Kremstal Kogl 2009, $24 Lamprecht
-Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Kammerner Lamm 2007, $45 Andrews
-Winzer Krems Zweigelt St. Severin Niederosterreich 2010, $14.95

*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kurt Angerer Pinot Noir Niederosterreich 2009, $32 B & W Wines
-Judith Beck Blaufrankisch Altenberg Burgenland 2007, $55 Violet Hill
-Willi Brundlmayer Riesling Steinmassi Kamptal 2008, $29 H.H.D.
-Forstreiter Zweigelt Niederostereich 2009, $12.95 Lifford
-Kracher Chardonnay TBA No. 3 2000 Burgenland, $79 half-bottle
-Laurenz Five Fine Wine Gruner Veltliner Niederosterreich, $16.95
-Nigl Gruner Veltliner Gartling 2010, Le Sommelier
-Rabl Gruner Veltliner Kaferberg Reserve 2009, $24.95 Thompson Vintage
-Rabl Vinum Optimum Gruner Veltliner 2009, Thompson
-Rabl Gruner Veltliner Spiegel Kamptal 2010, $16.95 Thompson
-Rabl St. Laurent Kamptal 2009, $18 Thompson
-Hannes Sabathi Sauvignon Blanc Klassik Sudsteiermark 2010, $20.35
Nokhrin Wines
-Salomon Undhof Gruner Veltliner Wieden & Berg Kremstal 2009, $19.50
-Salomon Undhof Gruner Veltliner Von Stein Reserve Kremstal 2006, $39
-Schmelz Gruner Veltliner Pichl-Point Smaragd Wachau 2007, $39
Thompson Vintage Trade
-Stadlmann St.Laurent Thermenregion 2009, Le Sommelier
-Winzer Krems Gruner Veltliner Niederosterreich 2009, $ 10.95
-Zantho GmbH St. Laurent Neusiedlersee 2009, $19.25 Maison InVino

The Food: lunch was a warm beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts,
crab cake with a mustard remoulade and green salad, and key lime pie.
The crab cake was superb, the key lime pie slowed me down for the rest
of the day.