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Austria – single varietal styles

A few people have asked me to post some of my notes on the styles of wine we discovered in Austria. Here goes:

Notable single varietal styles 

Braufrankisch

I loved the savoury style of the cherry-like Braufrankisch reds. These wines have a fantastic future alongside Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Syrah.  All great food wines.

Pinot Blanc

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was how much I liked the Pinot Blanc wines. They had a generosity I enjoyed, with fruit, mineral and acidity in good balance. I noted appealing apricot and pear candied fruit, and almond. I personally prefer this style not to be bone dry, which some were.  Potentially in my view this grape could be a real winner for Austria.

Welschriesling

I preferred the Welschriesling as a blend, notably wine # 2 from Schiefer. Generally I thought they offered a fruitiness which was quenching and  a refreshing point of difference from the mineral focused wines.

Traminer

Schiefer`s orange coloured Traminer wine #6 is worth singling out for its unique perfume and individuality.

Muskateller

An aromatic style which like Traminer has a hint of Turkish Delight about it, especially the sweeter styles.

Gruner-Veltliner

I had always thought this style of wine made in Austria to be savoury with green notes, celery, white pepper and mineral, on the austere side, very much food wines, as compared to a fruiter style grown elsewhere, in New Zealand, say, where the fully ripened grapes add honeysuckle, orange blossom and peach to a richer style of wine. Well  I was delighted to discover G-V wines on my trip across the entire spectrum.

Sauvignon Blanc

I preferred the Sauvignons which retained some of the grassy fruit character of the grape. I thought these were lovely. I liked the interplay of fruit, mineral and acidity. Not unlike the Sancerre style.  For my own palate too many of them were too serious, all mineral and acidity. Like too many Pouilly-Fumes, for my taste. I think these wines can be elegant without losing generosity. I like their focus on terroir, don`t get me wrong, but when they lack fruit personality entirely, and some did, they can be hard work. In fairness, Sauvignon is not my favourite grape.

Chardonnay

I loved the Chardonnays. I would personally like to see a lot more of this style in Austria. Those we tasted were very slick and stylish, mostly along the citrus spectrum. The minerality of these wines played a significant not domineering part, and they were textural and delicious.   Although it was clear the Austrians are aiming for a fresh, food friendly style of Chardonnay (consciously not stirring lees aka batonnage), the evidence was the wines evolve “burgundy-esque”  ricnness nonetheless. Eg.  the last 2011 .. at lunch? [which was this, Claire?}

St Laurent

I liked the wines we tasted. Probably even more like Pinot Noir than Braufraukisch, with cherry and violet to the fore. A little tartness on the finish was quite attractive.

Zweigelt

This style, a crossing between Braufrankisch and St Laurent, was full-bodied with its own rustic style imbued with cherry fruit. I quite liked it as a quaffing, barbecue wine.

Riesling

I liked their Rieslings but personally would like to see more limes and orange blossom and a tad of natural sugar to round them out. I think it was the second wine of the whole trip we tasted which was closest to the mark, from Kamptal, followed by the Steirmark.

 

 

 

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