March 08, 2010

Austrian samples

Now here are some samples I can reaelly get behind. Austrian wine has become a bit fashionable in the past decade, for wine geeks at least. Store shelves aren't overrun with bottles, though you will find some almost anywhere and you should seek them out. The whites in particular.

Long a terrific producer of gruner veltliner, the co-op Domaine Wachau has done it again. The 2008 Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen is textbook, delicious Austrian white wine. Strongly aromatic of sweet green peas and lemony citrus, even the non-geeks at the house loved it. This is unique but friendly wine. Bracing acidity balances round, ripe gruner fruit. Simple, no white pepper notes, but exactly what I'd want in a Wiener weinkeller or here at home in cheerful Oregon. Try this if you want an good introduction to gruner, but keep buying it because it refreshing, not at all tiresome. Sadly, I opened a locally produced gruner that paled in comparison.

Then the 2008 Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Federspiel Steinterrassen Spitz/Donau - Wachau. (In case you're wondering, Federspiel is the ripeness level below the fancy Smaragd, Steinterrassen means essentially stone earth and it's from the Spitz/Donau part of the Wachau. Imagine what they think of the Yamhill-Carlton District.) The wine is light gold and smells like honey drizzled apples, dried hay and rocks, not unlike a Loire chenin. A really good one. With time a hint of petrol comes out. The wine has great texture. Fat apple fruit with great tension and mineral savor, not just the citric cut so many lesser whites show in place of real terroir. This is excellent. Serve it as you would a nice but not oaky white from the Macon. It smells sweet with a bit of botrytis, but tastes more dry than similarly honied Loire wines.

Finally a red. I've enjoyed many red varietal bottlings from Austria, but this 2006 Zantho Blaufrankisch Burgendland was not one of them. It came with a snazzy glass locking "cork" but tasted stewed and harsh. I won't make unsubstantiated claims, but let's just say if this were mine, I'd send it out for brett testing. Way too much bitter bandgage flavors on the finish. I hope this bottle wasn't representative. Austrian reds can be really good, really.

All of these are imported by Vin Divino in Chicago, IL.


Constance C said...

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the Zantho - perhaps you received a bad sample, that's nothing like what it tasted like for me!

I recommend trying some other Zweigelt wines to see what you think :)

Marshall Manning said...

Is Smaragd "fancy"?

I just thought it was riper, but didn't realize it was fancy, too. Now I'll have to go buy some just to be in fashion!

Vincent Fritzsche said...

What does fancy have to do with fashion? Rather, think special, even extravagent. Those bottlings are are riper, priced higher, prized as better and served as more special wines, even extravgent depending on the bottling. Federspiel isn't as fancy, but it can be terrific.