I got great feedback about my Top 10 idea, as expressed in my post about Jura. Today, I want to share my Top 10 Austria facts. What would you add to this list?
Following that list, I’m also sharing a little tasting I did of a basic Wachau Gruner Veltliner and a Brugenland Zweigelt. Please enjoy and don’t hesitate to pipe in
TOP AUSTRIA 10
- Two Major Soil Types:
- Thin soils over rock (granite or gneiss, crystalline bedrock)—usually planted with RIESLING (needs less water than Gruner)
- Richer soils such as loess—best for GRUNER VELTLINER which requires soils with water-retention (NOTE: however, the grapevine is notoriously vigorous, thus canopy management necessary)
- Austrian Wine Hierarchy: Wein—Landwein—Qualitatswein (Klassik, Reserve)—Kabinett—Pradikatswein (Spatlese—Auslese—Beerenauslese—Eiswein—Trockenbeerenauslese) NOTE: TBA wines from the city of Rust (near Neusiedlersee) labeled as Ausbruch
- Regionally Typical Qualitatswein—DAC: Amendment to wine law in 2002 to create appellation system to promote regional typicity; only these wines are permitted to display their origin on label; those that do not conform to the legislation use larger area on label; only specific permitted grape varieties of the DAC allowed; must meet tasting panel criteria of what is “typical” for the region
- DAC Hierarchy: Gebietswein—Orswein—Riedenwien
- Principal Wine Regions: NIEDEROSTERREICH (Weinviertel, Kamptal, Krepmstal, Wachau, Wagram, Thermenregion; BURGENLAND (Neusiedlersee, Leithaberg, Mittelburgenland); STEIERMARK; WEIN
- Principal Grapes: Gruner Veltliner, Welschrielsing, Riesling, Blaufrankisch, Saint Laurent, Zweigelt
- More than half of wine produced sold in hospitality—Heurigen: small indoor/outdoor pubs that serve simple food and local wine intended for early drinking
- Osterreichische Traditionsweinguter (OTW): a group of producers based on Kamptal, Kremstal, Wagram and Vienna who classify their vineyards based on soil type and climate
- Vinea Wachau: a group of quality minded producers based in Wachau with a classification system for wines of the region; created registered trademarks for three different classifications of dry white wine to indicate style and quality(Steinfeder—Federspiel—Smaragd)
- Winemaking, White wines: typical aim is to preserve primary fruit and varietal characteristics; short period of skin contact common to enhance aromas/flavors; ferment in neutral vessel with temperature control to prevent loss of volatile aromas; Gruner and Riesling do not go through ML; wines are stored in old wood or stainless; many producers leave wine on fine lees; most white wines are fermented to dryness Red wines: fermented in large open-top vessels for regular cap management; some opt for ambient yeast; wines stored in stainless or large format old oak; premium wines aged in barriques with percentage new oak; some producers opt for Acacia over oak which gives small amount of oxygen eithou vanilla tones
What would you add to your Top Austria 10?
For a brief overview on the Austrian wine region (based one WSET Level 3 knowledge), see Wine Region Overview: Austria.
WINE: Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2019
Appearance: pale lemon
Nose: medium (+) intensity: lemon, lime, green apple, pear, blossom, white nectarine, white peach, hint apricot, grass, white pepper
Palate: dry, high acid, medium alcohol, medium (-) body, medium (+) intensity: white pepper, lemon, lime, hint of grass, under-ripe white nectarine, white peach, blossom, medium finish
Assessment of quality: (6 marks) This is a good wine with a refreshingly high level acidity that brings to life primary fruits ranging from citrus through to under-ripe stone. The white pepper, innate to the Gruner Veltliner variety, is more prominent on the palate than on the nose, but never detracts, instead perfectly complements the fruit and floral notes. The dry nature of the wine along with the moderate alcohol creates a medium (-) body that is light and, along with the fruits mentioned, quite refreshing. While all characteristics were fairly pronounced on the nose and on the palate, the finish did seem to fall off at a solid medium. I also struggled whether this wine is actually complex. Though there are a good range of flavors, there are no aromas, flavors, or textures to indicate any kind of complexity in the winemaking. Thus, while the wine is well-balanced and has a fairly good level of intensity, the question of its complexity and the medium finish leads me to rate this wine no higher than good in quality.
Suitability for bottle ageing: (3 marks) This wine is clearly intended for immediate consumption and not suitable for extended bottle aging. The nature of the fruits is such that they will not develop or evolve over time and, in fact, may fade, resulting in an imbalanced wine. Further, the overall lack of complexity in the wine leads me to believe that there are not enough structural components to aid in any kind of longevity.
WINE: Erich Sattler 2017 Zweigelt
Appearance: pale ruby
Nose: medium (+) intensity: red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, strawberry, prune, black pepper, tomato leaf, vanilla, cedar, nutmeg
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium tannins—soft/plush, medium body, medium alcohol, medium (+) intensity of flavors: red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, wild strawberry, prune, black pepper, tomato leaf, fennel vanilla, cedar, black plum
Finish is medium (+) in length
Assessment of quality: (6 marks) This is a very good wine that shows a beautiful arrangement of primary flavors, uplifted by the medium (+) acidity and complimented by a subtle use of oak. The tannins, while present, are quite soft/plush in their nature, and give the wine a kind of comfortable and cushy mouthfeel, lending to the overall medium body. Those tannins do not overwhelm the palate, instead complement the fresh fruit characteristics. Both the aromas and flavors are quite prominent, and that intensity carries through toward the finish, and the palate is left lingering with a combination of fruit and spice notes. I did, however, mark the wine as finishing medium (+) in length, as it was indeed just shy of long and, thus, I cannot rate the wine as outstanding, but it is a very good wine.
Suitability for bottle ageing: (3 marks) I do believe that this wine has the ability to age. The tannins are present enough, the acidity high enough, the fruit flavors strong enough that the structural components are all there to aid in longevity. Further, I think the nature of the fruits is such that they can develop into their cooked/dried form and develop further complexity in the bottle.
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