WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

15 March 2015

Austria: Riesling & Blaufränkisch

This Austrian "mini-focus" kicks off with four random wineries featuring seven tasty dry Rieslings, since it's perhaps too easy to forget there's more to Austria than Grüner Veltliner (which can also be very good for sure - click there for more). But there's often something rather distinctive, intense, stylish about Austria's take on the Riesling variety, especially for a R-addict like me. And I've rounded things off nicely with a look at a slightly quirky Blaufränkisch red from an all-together different corner of Austria called 'Eisenberg' (no connection with a certain ex-chemistry teacher and New Mexico...).

Müller - Kremstal region
The Müller family works 65 hectares of vineyards on slopes around Stift Göttweig and their home/winery in Krustetten (near Paudorf) along the Danube valley, about an hour's drive north-west of Vienna. Importers: Clada in Galway, Ireland (not on their site though); Austrian Wines Direct in Scotland and the Austrian Wine Company in England both list some of their wines. More @ www.weingutmueller.at.
2013 Riesling Neubergen - steely zippy and lees-y palate with oily lime fruit and texture, quite intense with 'mineral' acidity, good extract and 'chalky' finish. Nice Riesling. €8-€9
2013 Riesling Leiten Reserve - more perfumed, oily and yeast lees-y; rounder mouth-feel vs steely bite, more concentrated too with lovely extract vs crisp length. €12.50-€14

Weszeli - Kamptal
Partners Davis Weszeli and Rupert Summerer are based in the fairly famous wine town of Langenlois in the Kamptal region, which lies to the north of Kremstal on the other side of the river. Their variety of vineyard plots includes some top-rated 'Erste Lage' sites, or Premier Cru if you like. Imported by Newcomer Wines in London (£ price below); in the US: Savio Soares Selections (NY) and The Age of Riesling (CA). More @ www.weszeli.at.
2013 Riesling Loiserberg - "the highest vineyard in this area..." Rich and full, oily and honeyed vs 'chalky' 'mineral' touches, lots of flavour and class. €12-€13, £16.90
2011 Riesling Steinmassl Erste Lage - 'yeastier' and creamier style with developing oily and savoury notes vs crisp bite and extract, delicate yet concentrated wine. €29-€32
2011 Riesling Seeberg Erste Lage - again lees-edged complex nose, very concentrated with lime flavours vs oily texture and steely bite. Very tasty, serious Riesling (and price too). €36-€40

Malat - Kremstal
This wine estate and hotel is found in Palt not far from the town of Krems itself a mere stone's throw from the big blue DanubeQuite widely exported including, they claim, The Wine Monger in California (also not on their site though?). www.malat.at 
2012 Riesling Steinbühel Erste Lage - stony hillside vineyard. Lovely developing oily nose, concentrated with lime and greengage fruit vs honeyed notes, perfumed yet savoury too, nice long 'mineral' finish. €16-€18

Huber - Traistental
The Huber family have been winegrowers for over 200 years, and current winery head Markus has continued to carve out a good name for their estate. They're based in Reichersdorf in the Traistental region, which borders Kremstal on its eastern side, where they actually mostly produce Gruner Veltliner but have a good reputation for Riesling too. Markus makes and exports a fairly wide range from good-value funky brands to top single site wines. Importers: Thierry's Wine Services in England, Broadbent Selection in the US (Richmond VA). www.weingut-huber.at
2013 Red Dolomite Riesling - more "commercial" off-dry? style, softer certainly with attractive perfumed flowery fruit and crisp 'chalky' finish.

Groszer Wein - Eisenberg
Eisenberg ('iron mountain') is a slightly mystical elevated hill lying in the far south-eastern corner of Austria in the southern Burgenland, right on the Hungarian border, not too far away from Slovenia and apparently closer to Croatia than Vienna (its most northerly point at least). This spot forms the backbone of a fairly new appellation area, which has been built around the red Blaufränkisch variety. Owned and run by Markus Bach and Mathias Krön, who launched themselves into this "winemaking adventure out of madness and love of wine," roughly translating from their site, the Groszer Wein ("great wine" or "big" or "tall" wine perhaps?!) winery has 16 hectares dotted with old vines on hillside sites around Eisenberg. Imported by Newcomer Wines in London and quite widely available around the rest of Europe. USA: The Wine Monger (CA), although couldn't find the wines on their site. More info @ www.groszerwein.at.

2012 Blaufränkisch Vom Riegl (13.5% abv) - meaning "from the hill" in local dialect. Surprisingly balsamic and 'volatile'/wild-edged on the nose with light cider notes in that 'natural'-styled way, ripe plum and liquorice too with resin and herbal minty tones, rich and quite peppery/earthy with subtle coconut vs herby dark berry fruit; fairly concentrated rounded and powerful yet has fresh acidity adding bite against that nice sweet fruit. Surprisingly "Mediterranean" yet with lively Austrian acidity, touch of grip too vs Italian-esque dried fruit characters. I liked it more the second day it was open actually, attractive unusual red but quite dear (like most good Austrian wine is): €19.90 / £22.90 in the UK, although you do get a big litre bottle for that!

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