Thursday, 13 August 2015

Exploring Austrian wines - Glorious Grüners and beyond...

Austrian wine scene - photo taken by @werner_austria, used under CCL
I’ve stated many times in posts on Vinspire what a fan I am of German wines. I love their depth, variety, character and nuances. As an intrepid vinplorer (a portmanteau for “vini” and “explorer”… No? Well, I like it!) I have been branching out over the last couple of months. I have been looking over the border into Austria and seeing what it has to offer on the wine front when compared to its illustrious neighbour.

I have been delighted to find out that it more than holds its own. The wines have a similarly steely minerality that one finds in those racy Rieslings from the Rheingau or Nahe. Furthermore, it has some very interesting and unusual grapes that really excite a wine geek like me! Given that Austria is a relative unknown on the high street when it comes to their wines I also found that they tend to represent very good value too.

Glorious Grüners

Grüner Veltliner is probably Austria’s signature grape. It bears certain similarities to Riesling in that it has a high level of acidity and tends to prefer soils which give it a pleasing minerality. In fact, just like Riesling, it is these characteristics that mean that it is such a perfect wine to accompany food. Sommeliers love pairing this grape to seafood, white meats or anything that requires a balanced, clear and pure white wine. Here are some glorious Grüners that I've been trying out recently...

2012 Langenlois, Davis Weszeli GrünerVeltliner (Kamptal, Austria) available from Newcomer Wines for £13.90/bottle. On the nose this wine has white peach and apricot primary aromas, followed by a touch of white pepper. This is then followed up by slightly sweet lemon notes. When tasted it has a noticeably high level of acidity. The dominant flavours are lemon and a slightly tart pineapple. The finish is nice and clear, although not overly long. Quality: 7.0; Value: 8.0
2014 Ms Mayer, DerPollerhof Grüner Veltliner (Niederösterreich, Austria) available from NewcomerWines for £19.90/bottle. The nose of this wine was full of green apple, peach and nectarine couple by a pinch of white pepper; a very inviting aroma indeed! On the mouth this was once again notable for lip-smacking acidity. It had a juiciness that was reminiscent of Seville oranges and a crunch that I compared to a fresh, green apple. The finish was long and very decent, a thoroughly nice wine. Quality: 8.0; Value: 8.0.

2014 The Society's Exhibition Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal, Austria) available from the Wine Society for £12.50/bottle. As ever, the Wine Society's own brand production is a fantastic place to try out a new grape for a very, very reasonable price. This is a really balanced wine with surprising elegance to it. The nose is green fruits (apples and pears - it makes you come over all cockney just thinking about it...). That freshness and crispness continues on the mouth where it is accompanied by that characteristic snuff of white pepper. Exceptional value. Quality: 8.0; Value 9.0.  

Red Wines too?

Just like Germany, Austria is not really renowned for its red wines as it tends to be its white wines that take the limelight. And, just like Germany, this is a real shame as there are some very good red wines out there.

2012 MoricBlaufränkisch (Burgenland, Austria) available from Bottle Apostle for £18.00/bottle. A really fascinating nose with a mix of aromas; juicy red cherry notes coupled with slightly tangy strawberries, accompanied with some floral notes (violets?) and almond. When tasting it had medium acidity and medium tannins, making it a very approachable wine. The flavour profile was a mixture of raspberry and red cherry along with a slight touch of menthol. There didn’t seem to be any oak on this wine, which surprised me a little. Nonetheless this was a very enjoyable wine. Quality: 7.5; Value: 7.0.

2012 Rotee CuveeGroszer Wein (Südburgenland, Austria) available from Newcomer Wines for £15.90/bottle (1L bottle!). This wine was a blend featuring: Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. On the nose this wine was bursting full of black fruits (black cherry and blackcurrant) but came with a lovely sweet spice (cinnamon) and smoky quality that screamed of oak. On the palate this was ripe and juicy with black fruit once more coming to the fore. In truth this was a little one dimensional, however it was a great sipping-in-front-of-the-TV wine and with a 1L bottle there was plenty to sip! Quality: 7.0; Value: 9.0.

So, there you have it. The results of some of my recent vinploring (I’m going to persevere with this…!) I think you’ll agree that Austria is well worth checking out. If you are interested in Austrian wines and find yourself in London any time soon then I would heartily recommend checking out Newcomer wines in Shoreditch who ONLY sell Austrian wines and will be glad to tell you more about the wonderful world of Austrian wine.

What are your thoughts about Austrian wine? Let me know…!      

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