Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Come & Discover the Wines of Austria

In terms of visibility, the Austrian wine industry has – unfortunately – taken something of a back seat to its neighbour to the east – Germany. However, the western end of Austria is becoming known for producing amazing white wines, intriguing red wines and delectable sweet wines. On Wednesday, April 22nd at the Rosehill Venue Lounge, forty-four wineries gathered together to present the best that Austria has to offer – and it was delicious. There were three outstanding white wines that day – a Sauvignon Blanc, a Morillon (think Chardonnay) and a white blend containing Morillon, Weibburgunder (think Pinot Gris) and Grauburgunder (also similar to Pinot Gris). Followed by two amazing wines and three phenomenal sweet wines, this day was a day to remember. Come and check out what awaits you from Austria.

Weingut Sattlerhof
Sauvignon Steirische Klassik STK 2007
According to regulations set out by the Styrian Terroir and Classic Wine Estates, this wine cannot be released until after March 1st. This particular wine rests on its lees from harvest until that point and, as a result, has a very unique aroma and palate to it. Most people cannot pick out Yellow Capcisum and sugar peas but these are the primary aromas found in this particular wine. The palate is lively and cheery – it is very fruit forward and extremely pleasant to drink. There is a lovely, lingering finish which actually makes this wine rather dangerous – like you cannot get enough of it.

Weingut Sattlerhof
Morillon Steirische Klassik STK 2006
This wine has a particular regulation on release dates as the previous Sauvignon Blanc and, if you have not heard of this particular grape before, it is the Austrian equivalent to Chardonnay. It has a very fruit forward aroma – banana, honey dew melon, rhubarb and a good kick of spice. There is a slight hint of creaminess that is added to the palate along with the aromas previously mentioned. There is a good, lingering finish on this wine as well making it incredibly satisfying and easy drinking.

Durnburg Wine Estate
Ortolan Cuvee Prestige Prime Wine 2007
According to the winery’s website, the name “Cuvee Prestige” was named after a rare bird which inspired Beethoven to write his Symphony No 5 and whose call still frequently resounds in the vineyards of Falkenstein. The aromas of this blend of Chardonnay, Weibburgunder and Grauburgunder carry a lot of flint (or gun smoke) notes along with fruit and mineral. It is an interesting combination – not one that we would normally see but it suits this wine to a “T”. The fact that this wine spent some time on its lees in 500 litre oak casks shows as the flavours have great complexity to them leading to an incredible elegance and a long finish.

Weingut Gernot und Heike Heinrich
Blaufrankisch 2007
This wine is an amazing combination of flavours and aromas – it is a POWERHOUSE!
The predominant aromas are herbal, spice, grilled vegetal and then a lot of berry and other fruit characteristics. A similar mixture can be found in the flavours and it just seems to go on forever and ever. It would be interesting to try this with heavy red meats – like steaks or roasts – but this could just as easily pair well with chicken, turkey or pork.

Weingut Nigl
Eichberg Barrique 2006
Made from the Zweigelt grape, this wine is intriguing from beginning to the medium finish. The colour on this wine is amazing – dark rubies with a garnet rim…just lovely. Smoke, cherries & plums are the predominant aromas and the palate is full of a variety of spices and fruit. Good firm tannins, a hearty structure and a medium finish round this wine out nicely.

Weingut Josef Andert
Neusidlersee Gelber Muskateller Beerenauslese 2007
This region of Austria – the Neusidlersee – is known for producing amazing sweet wines and this one is definitely one of the most interesting sweet wines I have had in a while. Made from Gelber Muskateller – which is Yellow Muscat in English – this wine, despite its young age is already showing amazing complexity and balance. It spent some time aging in barriques which has added a nice complexity to the wine but what intrigued me the most is the slight hint of banana I get in the mid palate.

Weingut Josef Andert
Neusidlersee Gewurztraminer Trockenbeerenauslese 2008
This wine looked like sunshine in a glass – it’s a shade of yellow that you do not normally see and it is just beautiful to look at. The aromas are a combination of honey and fig but with a slight hint of creaminess to come – most likely attributed to the time this wine spent in oak barrels. The honey and figs translated onto the palate where grapefruit joined the party and there was a hint of creaminess like the nose suggested there would be. All in all, a really lovely wine and given that it is only a year old and has just as much complexity as a 10 year old Ontario Icewine at half the price, this wine is definitely a great value for anyone who likes to have a good supply of sweet wines on hand in their collection.

Schloss Gobelsburg
Gruner Veltliner Eiswein 2007
This is unique – none of the Icewine made in Ontario is made with a Gruner Veltliner grape so to be able to try this is an absolute treat. The aromas are mostly stone fruit (like peaches and apricots) with just a hint of melon. There is just a slight kick of spice at the front of the palate but what makes this wine absolutely amazing is that it is only two years old and shows the complexity of a 10 year old Icewine from Ontario.

Some of these wines are available for purchase through importers already but some of them are currently seeking representation. The wines from Schloss Gobelsburg and Weingut Gernot und Heike Heinrich are available through the Andrews Group at (416) 686-3235. The wines from Weingut Nigl are available through Le Sommelier Inc at http://www.lesommelier.com. The other wineries will hopefully have representation
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