My latest column for Checkout Magazine was on the Wines of Austria. I opened with, ‘A few years back I was presented with a cd by Austrian wine producer Willi Opitz titled ‘The Sounds of Wine’. It was a recording of his wines as they fermented in his cellars in Illmitz near the Hungarian border. Clearly it was unique!
This month the AC Wine Club had a look at five wines from Austria. Unique. It’s a word that sits comfortably alongside most of what Austria produces. Others are Interesting, Quality and Very Food Friendly.
The white Gruner Veltliner makes up about 30% of the Austrian trade. While its hallmarks include crisp, fine acidity, peach blossom and a spiced, long finish this months’ two wines from Laurenz V showed just how versatile it’s wines can be.
Laurenz V, Singing Gruner Veltliner 2013
Blossom bouquet, gentle fresh fuit, rich crisp palate and a fine finish with distinct hints of spice.
Universally liked by the Club. Excellent lifestyle wine. Would be fabulous ‘By the Glass’ or at a wine bar lunch.
Laurenz V, Charming Gruner Veltliner 2008
Yes. 2008! Does this grape age well and if so, what happens to it? The Laurenz V website tells us that 2008 was a ‘winemakers vintage’. It was a perfect harvest and the fruit taken for this wine from the Kamptal Region spent 6 months on its lees in stainless steel tankes before bottling.
Obvious darkening with slight tawny hints but still clear and attractive. Nose has some damp earth elements and a bit of empty cigarette box allied to a persistent ripe peach skin. Fabulous alert palate with soft fruit and plenty of it supported by a rich acidity. The finish was mellow! The middle palate here is truly fabulous. Does Gruner age? Yes it does!! Or at least this Charming 2008 has. (Distributed By Gilbeys Wines)
Domane Wachau Terrassen Riesling Federspiel 2015
Wachau is reputed to be one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Domane Wachau is a co-op in the region and takes grapes from about 400 local farmers. That sort of makes it very, very influential. Good thing then that it’s wines are so good. (recently taken on by Cassidy Wines for the Irish market)
The ‘Terrassen’ series of wines are made from grapes grown on rocky sites that are in themselves too small to make a wine. (The ‘Federspiel’ is a local designation of ripeness and roughly translates into about a 12.5%vol potential and uses the falcon as its sigil.)
Absolutely fabulous wines. Loads of juicy citrus fruits with an immmensely impressive, brilliant and balanced acidity. This is all about ripeness, freshness and length and does not show any developed Riesling effects such as old cheeses etc. Very much one for New World style aficionados.
Rabl Steinhaus Riesling Kamptal DAC 2013
Imported by O’Briens Wines this is a classic where acidity meets rich ripe fruit and fair dose of ageing Riesling bouquets where whiffs of sewing machine oil fumes are noticeable. Love it.
The term ‘Minerality’ is tossed around the wine trade often without having any apparent meaning. Here’s a wine that might explain it! Terroir is where a wine comes from. It is the totality of its genesis. Sometimes this throws up a grape where fruit ripeness balances in with acidity in a way reminiscent of licking freshly split limestone. I’m not talking flint here but ‘tongue tingles’. That’s minerality and this wine has it in abundance.
Heinrich Red Burgenland 2015
I am an absolute fan of a number of the red grapes grown in Austria – I always hanker after St Laurent and love the Zweigelt. This Heinrich Red (Liberty Wines) is a blend where Zweigelt is to the fore (followed by Blaufrankisch and St Laurent) and shows very well with its light, almost austere, palate entry only to blossom into fresh bramble fruit. This in turn brings it back to the ripe and freshly scented bouquet. Interesting colour – rich cherry! Really fine example of a modern wine trade. Burgenland, and epecially the Neusiedlersee in SE Austria, is home to ‘ripeness’. As such, it is capable and produces some of the finest dessert wine styles in the world. It also ripens red grapes!!
The AC Wine Club meets on the first Monday of each month