this week's flight/tasting
Niederöstereich - Wachau, Wagram, + the Burgenland.
Get your lederhosen on, because we're pouring some awesome Austrian wines this weekend.
It's all about the broader Niederöstereich area, where we start with some very groovy GRÜNER Veltliner... and not just still wine, but beautiful sparkling 'Sekt' or bone dry bubbles from the folks at Steininger.
Steininger's sparkling wine philosophy is to only use typical Kamptal varieties - and Grüner Veltliner is the base grape for all their sparkling wines. After the second fermentation, the raw sparkling wine is left on its lees to achieve a subtle creaminess and fine mousse.
We'll also head more specifically to the Wachau region. The Wachau is an amazingly picturesque Austrian valley formed by the Danube river. Though it's one of the most beautiful winegrowing regions in Austria, the land there is really difficult to farm, making Rieslings there a bit pricier - especially the single vineyard offerings.
The Tegernseerhof Winery sits at the heart of the Wachau and dates back to the Middle Ages - the original winery facilities were built in 1176.
Franz Mittelbach and his wife Mathilde are the 5th generation of Tegernseerhof owners. They've been running the winery since the 1970's, and today their son Martin is carrying on the tradition as head winemaker.
And who would have thought that killer Pinot Noir could be made from Austrian hillsides - well think again.
Your first red is in fact Pinot Noir from the Anton Bauer Weingut (or winery in German) and it's like drinking Pinot from Burgundy, no kidding.
Pure, tart red currant on the nose is softened by gentle almond and vanilla notes. On the palate, those same aromas manage to unite: the tart, crisp freshness of the fruit and the rounded, fluid softness of the vanilla with a pleasant whiff of smoke. The body remains light, the tannins are silky, and pepper shimmers around the edges. This is harmonious and wonderfully seamless Pinot from the Wagram area.
"Blauer Burgunder", as Pinot is called in Austria, places high demands on climate, soil and site. It is susceptible to various grape and vine diseases, sensitive to late frosts, berry loss
and, because of its thin grape skin, also tends to rot. Therefore, to press a Pinot Noir poses an interesting challenge. With that, the wine clearly reflects the great style of Burgundy, showing delicate berry fruits and finesse. This is a very fun and 'challenging' wine... read on below!
Your final pour is from the vigneron and marketing master, Leo Hillinger. Hillinger has developed some beautiful wine bars and a brilliant local presence in Vienna - he also makes some delightful Blaufränkisch.
The Blaufränkisch varietal is indigenous to Austria and has a black skinned intensity about it. It can be made in very powerful styles (where you might see a stronger POV when you taste it) but we've chosen a delightful example which has intensity but also freshness of tart and red cherry which mingles with perfumed cinnamon-sprinkled blueberries. The palate then presents wonderfully ripe fruit with forest floor and a firm finish.
It's a great finish to an Old World flight from Austria.