Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Austria Uncorked, an Austrian wine tasting at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel. This event was very well put together, with literally hundreds of wines available for tasting. The experience was eye-opening for me; there were so many different styles of Gruner Veltliner. Also, the Rieslings from Austria are quite different from their German counterparts. After sampling most of the whites we carry in the store, I was able to branch out and taste some delicious reds and dessert wines that pretty much rocked my world.
There were many standouts among the Gruners and Rieslings. Some of my favorites were definitely from Nikolaihof. These wines are full of complexity and many see extended aging on the lees, which gives them a full mouthfeel. Nikolaihof has been a wine estate for over 2000 years and has been biodynamic since 2004. We carry their 2007 Riesling from the Wachau region. This wine is fermented almost to dryness and has rich flavors of lime and nectarine, with stone and subtle yeasty aromas. I also became a big fan of Schloss Gobelsburg and their fabulous line of Gruner Veltliner. They have created a delicious reserve Gruner from the Kamptal region. This wine has great intensity of fruit and crisp minerality; it’s a very balanced package, dying to be paired with anything that contains salty bacon. Gruner is also one of the few wines that handles asparagus and artichokes and does a good job of it.
Some Austrian grapes that are even less spoken of than Gruner are the three main red grapes of Austria: Blaufrankisch, St Laurent, and Zweigelt (A cross between the former two grapes). These grapes produce some delicious wines that are extremely food friendly. We carry one such red: Umathum Zweigelt from Burgenland. This wine is delicious: full of spice and everything nice. In the glass, the wine is dark red with aromas of cherries, plum, spice and crushed rock. Filled with terrific acidity, fruit, and minerality, these wines pair extremely well with chicken, pork, tender beef, and other hearty dishes.
If you are still hungry to explore Austrian whites, I have a suggestion for you. One white grape stood out to me because it was fairly different than the lean Gruners and Rieslings I was tasting. Roter Veltliner, a pink skinned grape that is thought to be the grandparent of Gruner Veltliner, has great body and fruit. On the nose, Roter smells sweet. This is referred to as having an aroma of sucrosity, yet yields none of these foretellings in the wine itself. This makes the wine sly and delicious, similar to Torrontes from Argentina. We carry one Roter Veltliner: Mantlerhof 2007 Roter Veltliner from Reisenthal.
I hope my enthusiasm for Austria and and this marvelous tasting excites you as well. Feel free to come in and talk to me more about these great wines. You can also email me if you have any questions: email@example.com