Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wines of Austria 101

Perhaps it's Austria's proximity to wine giants like France and Italy that's to blame. Or maybe it's the fact that a nation with a similar sounding name (Australia) has made such strides in recent years. But no matter who or what is the reason, the fact remains that most people don't think of Austria when they think of wine. And it is indeed a shame since this small but very old nation has a lot to offer the wine world. So, in an effort to change this trend, I thought I'd write a little bitty on the basics of Austrian Wines.

Austria has four major wine regions, Weinland Osterreich, Bergland Osterreich, Steierland,and Wien. Weinland Osterreich is by far the largest region making up 92% of the total acreage under vine. These four regions are made up of 16 wine growing areas.

These regions are covered with the vines of 10 major grape varieties, 5 white and 5 red. The whites in order of popularity are Gruner Vetliner, Wielschriesling, Muller-Thursgau, Weifier Burgunder and Reisling. The red or black grapes are Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Blaur Portugieser, Blauburger, and Blauer Wildbacher. 75% of all wine produced in Austria is of the white variety, with Gruner Vetliner leading the way at 36.04%. The leader of the 25% red is Zweigelt at 9%. Gruner Vetliner grapes make usually pepper spicy and fruity but dry wines that can range from light to heavy. The Zweigelt wines tend to be fruity, velvety and smooth and can be left to age very well.

In terms of recent vintages, 2006 had a wet spring along with a hot July and a cool wet August. This translated into a reduced yield since the vines were not able to set the fruit properly. The season ended with a dry sunshine filled September and October which allowed for a nice recovery. The result was a harvest with little or no fungus botrytis or noble rot. All and all the vintage, though smaller, is said to have yeilded wines that are quite good, well at least winespector thinks so.

Winespector's vintage chart says the following about Austria:
2006: 96
2005: 92
2004: 89
2003: 88
2002: 90
2001: 89

An excellent paper on Austria and it's wines can be found at the following link, Statistics galore:

1 comment:

Jon-Paul said...

Very interesting post, Anthony! It really does sound like this too is a nation making a dent in the Wine industry as the chart below shows.

In your research was there any mention of the price point of Austrian wines?