Austria Uncorked

Tasting Event April 16, 2012

uncorked

Thirty Austrian wineries presented some of their wares at Austria Uncorked this year. I was happy to see that the "trade" has really begun to appreciate Austrian wines, although that meant that the 9th floor salon in the new Trump Tower was packed and heated! But I hope that the enthusiasm from wine professionals begins to translate into more traction at the LCBO, which in the past has given us very little access to Austrian wines. Unfortunately only a few of the wines offered for tasting are either currently available or scheduled for future release, but I mention two to look for.

With the crowds it was difficult to taste systematically. I found my personal highlight by a lucky observation. I noticed several prominent writers spending some quality time at one of the tables, and sure enough they were visiting the Weingut Bründlmayer, one of Austria's well-known wineries. As they were leaving I was able to worm my way near the front, and tasted through three excellent Grüner Veltliners and three beautiful dry Rieslings.

While I am fond of Austrian reds, especially the Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, I focused on the white wines this time. Grüner Veltliner is often presented as Austria's signature white grape. Although it is also important in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, by far the largest plantings are Austrian, where it constitutes roughly one third of all grape production. Grüner can show lots of fruit and floral notes, but it often has an attractive savory element that might include pepper, earthiness and minerality. For me the savory side makes it an interesting and satisfying food wine.

Gruner

The three Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliners were fine examples, and the first is actually available currently at Vintages, in small quantities. The importer, HHD Imports, does not give pricing or availability information for the other wines.

  • 2010 Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal DAC, 12% abv, $19.95 at Vintages. This is an excellent introduction to Grüner, with a slightly peppery and mineral nose along with citrus and peach notes. The palate is bone dry, with balanced fresh acidity, taut with a medium or longer finish. 8.9/10
  • 2010 Bründlmayer Late Rebel Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal DAC, 14% abv. This is a bigger wine, from a single vineyard, and the fruit seems to be even riper. The nose is still fresh and has some citrus, but the fruit moves towards pineapple and melon, alongside the peppery spice. The palate is dry, with balanced acidity, a fuller body that reflects some oak aging in older barrels, and a long savory finish. 9.2/10
  • 2008 Bründlmayer Lamm Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal DAC, 13.5% abv. This wine is made from very ripe but clean grapes (no botrytis), and so has lower acidity while still fermented dry. The nose shows riper stone fruit and tropical fruit, some floral notes and vanilla, with almost none of the herbaceous and pepper note common to the others. The palate is dry, balanced and rich, with a long finish. 9.4/10

I hope that these last two wines will be available at some point in Ontario, although I fear that the price may make them a hard sell, given the lack of local general knowledge of and familiarity with serious Grüner Veltliner.

The three Bründlmayer Rieslings made my day! They are dry, fermented from ripe grapes which means that acidity has been reduced naturally from the ripening process, creating rich, food-friendly, full-bodied wines with depth and complexity. I'll refer you to an earlier note in which I discuss this approach to dry Riesling, but in this context let me just say that these are very different from our local so-called "dry" Rieslings.

Riesling
  • 2011 Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Riesling, Kamptal DAC, 12.5% abv. This is a blend from several vineyards. I noted stone fruit and some delicate citrus on the nose, all very fresh. The palate is bone dry, with balanced acidity, a medium body, and a hint of minerality. The finish is medium. 8.9/10
  • 2010 Bründlmayer Heiligenstein Riesling, Kamptal DAC, 12.5% abv, price unknown. This is a single vineyard, with late harvest grapes, and has some maturation on fine lees. The nose is fresh and aromatic, with floral, citrus and stone fruit predominating. The palate is dry, with balanced acidity, noticeable minerality, and a long smooth finish. 9.2/10
  • 2006 Bründlmayer Steinmassel Riesling, Kamptal DAC, 13% abv, $29.00 Vintages Online. This wine is also fermented from late harvest but clean fruit. It is just beginning to evolve in the bottle, but there is still lots of freshness on the nose, with notes of citrus and stone fruit, as well as an obvious minerality. The finish is long and dry. I've just gone online to buy a few bottles, but there aren't many left!