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Austrian Tasting

Part One

 There are reasons why this is part one, and that's because of the amount of wines I tasted. It felt as though it was a beautiful war of attrition, and though my list of recommendations could have stretched to over thirty wines, I felt that I really had to narrow this down so that wines would stand out and not get lost in the numbers, which seems to be a constant feature in this edition. Please forgive me if my selections appear limited, but I'm hoping that by splitting this tasting over two or three editions I'll be able to cover more ground.

 Of course when one thinks of the wines of Austria the lovely little Grüner is going to pop by to say hello. But let's not forget Austria's contribution to Riesling, it's Blaüfrankisch and it's success with Spatburgunder. These are only a few of the endless possibilities when it comes to the wines of Austria. It has the soil, climate and ambitious producers to attempt so much more.

 This tasting was part of day spent with Austrian producers, and though it often veered towards the usual suspects, I found that my eyes were opened to the triumphs producers are doing in expanding Austria's wine profile. 

 The day contained a series of 'Masterclasses'. I've only covered one of these in any depth because they were the only wines I was sent at that time. Hopefully, in the second part I'll be able to add a little bit more, but first lets run through the day.

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2020 Mittelburgenland DAC - Vineyards are all in a high plateau natural cork

Blaufränkisch - Ried Sonneberg

Prickler

 The nose revealed stalks, cherry, jammy, pepper and herbs. There was also dried wood.

 The taste gave me blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, leaves and light tannins.

 In the mouth it felt a little too young and I'd be interested to taste this in a few years.

5 out of 7

2018 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränkisch 'Herosus'

Neckenmarkt die Winzer

 

 This little beauty is produced by a co-operative with 18 members and I really hope that this wine fills them with a lot of pride.

 The nose revealed Jammy black fruit, black pepper, black cherry and black plum that kept itself in check throughout the proceedings. 

 The taste gave me blackcurrant, cranberry, liquorice. Once it had settled down I felt that the fruit became smooth, earthy with a streak of vanilla helping to give the wine balance.

6 out of 7

2018 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränkisch 'Glimmerschiefer'

Juliana Wieder

 The nose revealed earthy plant stalks, violet, green peppers, dark and red berries.

 The taste gave me wood, blackberry, tobacco box, smoke, herb, liquorice and black tea that helped to give this wine a beautiful finish.

 Thankfully the tannins were kept in their place.

5 out of 7

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2017 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränkisch Ried Dürrau 'Der Geistesblitz

Eichenwald Weine eGen

 The name might be a mouthful, but is the wine?

 The nose revealed spice, cream and dark fruit mixing (cherries, plums and blackberries). I was getting floor polish and the floral notes of violets, and the whole thing was quite interesting.

 The taste gave me more of the violet, a twinge of black pepper, oodles of blackberry and dark cherries. Oak played its part and added a coffee and vanilla taste, along with an earthy forest floor.

5 out of 7

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2015 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränkisch

Juliana Wieder

 Yet another from Juliana Wieder, and this certainly hit the spot as far as Blaufränkisch.

 The nose revealed liquorice, blackcurrant, jam, musk and smokey tobacco feel coming from the glass.

 The taste gave me blackcurrant, chocolate, ripe red berries, cloves, peppers and a field of herbs 

6 out of 7

2016 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränisch 'Gold'

K+K Kirnbauer

 Considering that the tasting was led by Markus Kirnbauer who is the winemaker and owner of K+K Kirnbauer it seems fitting that two of his wines should feature at the end of this section. What I also find pleasing is that, for me, they were the best representations of this variety I tried.

 The nose gives you a sense of juicy dark berries, oaky vanilla and kirsch.

 The taste give you dark fruit (cherries and blackberries) liquorice, leather, forest floor and black Forest gateau.

 I've got to say what a lovely drinker this wine turned out to be.

6 out of 7

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2012 Mittelburgenland Reserve

Blaufränkisch 'Gold'

K+K Kirnbauer

 This was an interesting wine to taste because it demonstrated how well this can age.

 On the nose the fruit felt fresh and interesting. It had developed into a subtle combination of raspberry, cherries, spice, and cassis. It was certainly worth taking a few moment just to savour the aromas that were jumping out of the glass.

 The taste was blackberries, cherries and figs. I found a touch of stone poking through and the whole production was supported by chocolate, cranberry, liquorice and alpine forest floor.

 If you're looking to try this wine then this should be your first stop!

6.5 out of 7

 I was surprised by how varied the Blaüfrankisch was as a grape and the range that could be achieved. This was pleasing because when I started the day it was a grape that I wasn't expecting too much from. I'm sorry to say that the same cannot be said of Zweigelt which just proves more of a chore than a pleasure. It's too meaty for me and lacking in any real finesse, so much so that when I sample one I'm shocked that it seems to remind me of how much English wines were insipid before a moment of enlightenment overtook the industry.  Perhaps this will happen to Zweigelt. It might not be a favourite but I'll keep trying it. Now on to the others...

Feiler-Artinger

2017 Burgenland

Ruster Ausbruch Cuvée

 

 Starting part one of the recommended wines was this lovely honeyed wine with the colour of deep golden furniture polish running through it. It's an interesting blend of Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Ruländer,

 On the nose there was a pronounced honey (from a distance) orange peel, candied marmalade, viscous, dried fruit and tropical notes.

 The taste had a salinity before revealing nuts, toffee, banana, stone fruit, Christmas baking, figs and vanilla.

 

5 out of 7

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Höpler

2020 Burgenland

Grüner Veltliner

 This grape variety is one of Austria's points of difference and I've often found it a little wanting. This could be because it's so popular that everybody seems to be throwing out bottles of the stuff to meet demand. Thankfully, this is not one of those.

 On the nose there's a clean simplicity to the wine, but that doesn't mean it's lacking. I'm getting asparagus, pear, yellow apple, mineral and lime zest.

 The taste continues the soft yellow apples, but now I'm getting a pear tart with cream. At the end I picked out stone fruit, tangerine and a shake of pepper.

5 out of 7

Höpler

Trockenbeerenauslese

 It's usually neighbouring Hungary that gathers the prizes for making dessert/pudding wines, so it's interesting to see what Austria brings to the party.

 The colour is a rich orange marmalade and there's no getting away from my sense of excitement as I start to sniff.

 On the nose there's rich honey, tropical fruits (pineapple, banana), orange peel, viscous ripe fruits like apricot lying on a bed of warm caramel.

 The taste is orange peel, nuts, honey, banana, fruit cake, marmalade, butterscotch, vanilla, peach and candied fruit.

 It's so vibrant that I want to actually drink a full glass.

6 out of 7

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Esterházy

2020 Burgenland 

Grüner Veltliner 'Estoras'

 Meanwhile, back on the Grüner trail...

 The aromas are coming thick and fast and include bags of juicy pear, ripe apple, fruit salad sweets, white pepper, honeydew melon, white flowers and lime zest.

 In the mouth you get stone, stone fruit, green apple, pear, grapefruit and a little bit more white pepper.

5 out of 7

Neumeister

2019 Vulkanland Steiermark DAC

Roter Traminer Ried Steintal 'ISTK'

 The nose reveals lovely aromas of cherry blossom, perfumed gardens, peach, nectarine, tropical fruits, pear drop and elderflower.

 Take a sip and it's got more viscosity than one would imagine, perfumed floral notes grow in the mouth, creamy apple dessert comes along with vanilla. There's grass, lychee and zesty lemon waiting their turn.

 This is a lovely wine that shows the potential of the winery well.

6.5 out of 7

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Stadt Krems

2019 Krems

Riesling Grillenparz '1ÖTW' Reserve

 I just love Riesling and find that it's generally one of my go-to wines when I can't make up my mind.

 It feels as though its got such a youthful nose and I don't know if I should drink it or babysit it!

 There's ripe pear, peaches, pineapple and a touch of lime. Before I know it I'm meeting lavender, lemon and grapefruit.  

 The taste is wonderful tropical fruits of banana and melon. There's a creamy mouthfeel with high acidity and a very long finish.

5 out of 7

 Some there we have it. Grüner and Riesling did stand out, but there was a lot of other wines of interest, particularly the Höpler Trockenbeerenauslese which I found to be sublime and worthy of further inspection, and a possible visit next time I'm in Austria.

 In part two I'll be working me way through the rest of the wines I was sent. If they're this much fun then life is a great big pleasure.