Austria - Undiscovered Gems

Posted by John Clerides on Jun 13, 2018

I can’t recall my first trip wine trip to Austria, it was somewhere in the early to mid 1990’s, at the cajoling of Alois Krahcer 1959-2007 (one of the worlds greatest dessert wine makers) he insisted I visit him after VIN Italy, so I did.

I drove to Illmitz and it is there, with his wife Michaela, we had a four hour extravaganza dinner were he must have opened and poured 30 wines. Te next day we were up an arm touring the wineries of Burgenland and my absolute respect for Austrian wines

This trip was noting less. I started in the small town of Krems, where Salomon and Stadt Krems are, then to Kampatl where Fred Loimer and few new discoveries then off to the Wachau, a 16k stretch of stunning beauty, along the Danube where some of not only Austria but some of the world’s greatest wines are crafted – I kid you not.

Then off to Vienna to attend VieVinum, a massive wine event held every two years in Vienna at the Palais Hofbourg.

Austria has some of the oldest winemaking families, five to eight generations of family operation, Salomon established in 1758 and Lucas Pichler from FX Pichler who is the 5th generation Pichler crafting wine.

I ma not sure on the precise number of Austrian wineries but they number in the thousands most of which are small to id size family enterprises. Many of them are sustainable, organic or bio-dynamic. Virtually all of the wineries I visited fall into one of the aforementioned categories – they all spoke about respect for then land.

The varietals grown are some familiar names, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling for the white sand Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir for the reds.

I forgot how bloody good these wines were. Several of their ‘ Basic’ Chardonnays I tasted are as good s many Bourgogne’s Blancs from Burgundy which are twice the price.

The two Sauvignons Blanc’s I will be bringing are stunning examples of the grape variety and will convert the non- believers. Many of the Pinot Blancs are mineral rich full flavored examples which show how good the grape can be

It is their indigenous varietals where they sing.

Gruner Veltliner for whites, pure focused, pepper notes, they are the begins of the white wine world will age gracefully for 20 years.

I have focused on two red varietals, Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt; Blaufrankisch, can be crafted in many styles, from medium easy drinking style to deep brooding wines , the examples we have a

Zweigelt, the best descriptor of these wines are they are very similar to Beaujolais, pure fruit driven wines, with a nice undertone of crunchy cranberry fruit.

Our full selection of Austrian wines can be found HERE