WorldWine Tasting Report


Austria - red wines

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Austria is and remains (above all) a white wine producing country - at best, perhaps, a white wine and Blaufränkisch producing country with Zweigelt as an interessing bonus. This was, in spite of all the progress of recent years, the result of our interesting red wine tasting, which we were recently able to hold in Hamburg, thanks to the perfect organization of Austria's Wine Marketing Board, and which allowed us to draw a nearly complete picture of the country's top red production.

Rust, on the banks of Lake Neusiedel, is renowned for its sweet Ausbruch wines, but from here - and from some neighbouring villages - stems the major part of Austria's top red wines.

This resumé is not only the chronicler's personal opinion but was, roughly speaking, an opinion shared by most of the other tasters (two more journalists, three sommeliers and one wine merchant) who participated in the tastings. If we look at the statistics, Blaufränkisch results as the undiscussed leader variety in Austria's red vineyards. Although it represented only one third of the wines tasted, it came up for two thirds of the top ratings - be it as monovarietal or as blend. Another highlight of the tastings was the 2009 vintage of Zweigelt with its juicy, fruity wines, and even St. Laurent showed one or another pretty interesting wine.

Speaking about Pinot noir and other international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah oder Merlot, it does not seem quite clear how Austria wants to compete on the international markets with these wines. Even if our comments on Pinot are by far not as harsh as those of Gerhard Retter, one of Austria's most famous sommeliers, we had a really tough time to find a small number of internationally comparable top wines, many lacking complexity and finesse. Talking about Cabernet Sauvignon, franc and the others we frankly cannot see any reason why they should be cultivated at all in Austria.

There is nothing to criticize, in many Austrian wineries, as far as the red wine making technique is concerned. They are "state of the art" just like here, in Gernot and Heike Heinrich's cellar in Gols. As far as the character and the complexity of the wines are concerned, this, unfortunately, is not always true.

What Austria should really concentrate on - speaking about red wines - is Blaufränkisch, Blaufränkisch and again Blaufränkisch. With juicy Zweigelts as a charming alternative and with precisely profiled cuvées - with or whithout the international varieties - as top products, that show class and terroir. And, dear Austrian vintners, you are completely right that the time of the over-concentrated, jammy and plummy reds is over. But please don't mistake anorexia for elegance and lack of taste for finesse! That would definitively be the wrong answer to the errors of the past.

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ENO WorldWine's 25 top scorers

*****Ernst Triebaumer (Rust) - Mariental Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Blaufränkisch 2007
*****Schloss Halbturn (Halbturn) - Burgenland Pinot noir 2007
*****Kollwentz - Römerhof (Grosshöflein) - Point Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Blaufränkisch 2007
*****Gerhard Markowitsch (Göttlesbrunn) - Carnuntum Rosenberg 2008
*****K & K-Irmgard & Walter Kirnbauer (Deutschkreutz) - Mittelburgenland Girmer 2008
*****Walter & Evelyn Skoff (Gamlitz) - Südsteiermark Zweigelt Reserve 2006
*****Birgit Braunstein (Purbach) - Felsenstein Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Blaufränkisch 2007
*****R. & R. Schwarzböck (Hagenbrunn) - Niederösterreich Capreal vom Bisamberg 2008
***** ?Walter & Evelyn Skoff (Gamlitz) - Südsteiermark Zweigelt Barrique 2008
***** ?Feiler-Artinger (Rust) - Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Zweigelt & More 2008
***** ?Günther Dopler (Tattendorf) - Thermenregion Pinot noir 2007
***** ?Wieninger (Wien) - Wien Pinot noir Grand Select 2007
***** ?Birgit Braunstein (Purbach) - Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Leithaberg rot 2008
***** ?Gager (Deutschkreutz) - Mitterberg Blaufränkisch 2008
***** ?Feiler-Artinger (Rust) - Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Solitaire 2008
***** ?Hans Igler (Deutschkreutz) - Mittelburgenland Ab Ericio 2008
***** ?Hans & Anita Nittnaus (Gols) - Neusiedlersee Comondor 2007
**** +Fred Loimer (Langenlois) - Dechant Kamptal Pinot noir 2005
**** +Hans & Anita Nittnaus (Gols) - Neusiedlersee Pannobile rot 2006
**** +Wendelin (Gols) - Burgenland Zweigelt Klassik 2009
**** +Hans & Christine Nittnaus (Gols) - Burgenland Zweigelt Zwickl 2009
**** +Johanneshof - Reinisch (Tattendorf) - Frauenfeld Thermenregion St. Laurent 2008
**** +Gager (Deutschkreutz) - Mittelburgenland Cuvée Quattro 2008
**** +Ing. Franz Netzl (Göttlesbrunn) - Carnuntum Anna-Christina 2008
**** +Hans Igler (Deutschkreutz) - Biiri Mittelburgenland Blaufränkisch 2008

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