Once again my friend Martti Helsilä organized an interesting tasting. This time the theme was of the top rated Austrian reds of recent vintages (as rated by Moser of Falstaff). Generally speaking the fruit was really attractive and bright and crunchy with almost all of these, but at this high end, the Austrian winemakers still are too often enamoured with oak!
We started with a couple blind whites: 2003 Erich und Walter Polz Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Ried Hochgrassnitzberg - Austria, Styria, Südsteiermark
Aged in new Barriques, and it shows. The aroma is weird with pretty harsh cat's piss aromas mixed with pretty harsh oaky bitterness. But then the palate is sweetly fruity and almost flabby because of low acidity and huge richness. Toffee aftertaste. Not really a wine I liked.1990 Weingut Josef Pöckl Neuburger Auslese trocken - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
15,3% abv. This must be one of the rarest wines I've had the privilege to try. Pöckl makes c.99,5% reds and just 0,5% whites and this Neuburger IIRC was never for sale but the host of this tasting was given one bottle as a gift from the winery. It was aged for 12 months in Barriques of Austrian oak (Manhartsberger) and there is still quite a bit of oak aromas noticeable. The wine is very perfumed: when served blind my guesses were Viognier and Gewürztraminer. It has an oily texture, it is incredibly rich, fairly low in acidity, with sweet and tropical fruit (though it isn't technically sweet with only 1 g/l RS, it certainly tastes a bit sweet due to the super-ripe fruit). Massive wine and amazingly the high alcohol didn't really taste through the richness. Interesting, butl not really stylistically to my taste.
Then we went onto the reds, single blind: 2009 Feiler-Artinger 1015 - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Rust
14% abv; 45% Cab Franc, 42% Merlot, 12% Cab Sauv. Reductive and smells of plastic at first. Opens up only a little during the 5 hours it was open, but does turn to a rather Bordeaux-style aroma with loam and and red fruit and quite a bit of oak. Quite harsh and extracted and really closed. Needs time.2008 Zahel Antares Grand Cuvée - Austria, Wien
13,5% abv; 50% St. Laurent, 20% Cab Sauv, 20% Zweigelt, 10% Merlot. Another loamy, somewhat Bordeaux-style wine but much more open than the Feiler-Artinger. Crunchy and bright fruit, slightly herbaceous, refreshing finish, but a bit too much oak for my tastes. Should turn out nice with age.2008 Claus Preisinger Paradigma - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee, Gols
13% abv; 90% Blaufränkisch, 10% Zweigelt. It smells a bit like a ripe red apple or Calvados minus the heat. It also has some oak and liquorice but perhaps in a young wine these can be forgiven since the red-toned fruit is so attractive. Crunchy and vigorous, much structure but perfectly enough fruit for me, too. Refreshing finish. The oak aromas lessened during the 5h it was open and by the end of the evening this was one of my favourites of the tasting. Nice!2007 Ernst Triebaumer Blaufränkisch Mariental - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
13,5% abv. Quite a bit of loam and oak initially, but opens up to have some attractive red berry aromas. Bright and crunchy fruit but still has plenty of oak that it needs to shed.2008 Nittnaus Blaufränkisch Tannenberg - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee, Gols
13,5% abv; this is the Anita & Hans Nittnaus - since there are about a dozen with the name Nittnaus making wine!
Clean, pure, sappy and refreshing aroma; savoury and crunchy fruit, very lively and refreshing. Nice! One of my favourites of the tasting. 2008 Gesellmann G - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland, Deutschkreuz
14% abv; 95% Blaufränkisch, 5% St. Laurent; 40 months in new barrique and a further 3 months in bigger oak barrels. And I can't get anything but oak on either the nose or the palate. 100% Quercus robur.2009 Johann Heinrich Blaufränkisch Cupido - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland
14% abv. Milk chocolate and coca cola; way too much oak for me to get any pleasure from this!2008 Tesch Blaufränkisch Patriot - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland, Neckenmarkt
14% abv. Very polished and rather anonymous aroma with a bit of oak and loam. Good structure but polished and so safe as to be a little anonymous.2006 Heinrich Salzberg - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee, Gols
14,5% abv; Merlot 50%, Blaufränkisch 30% & Zweigelt 20%. A nice, lifted aroma of cherry and apple; very sweet, still some oak to shed. The palate is very sweet and dense and quite low in acidity - not quite flabby but dangerously close.2009 Heinrich Salzberg - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee, Gols
14% abv; 60% Merlot, 30% Blaufränkisch, 10% Zweigelt. Polished and a little anonymous but with attractive brambly aromas. Quite smooth and dense. Needs time. A bit too polished. 2007 Weingut Josef Pöckl Mystique - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
1,5 years since my previous taste and it seems to be opening up a little bit - it wasn't painful to drink this time!
In fact some nice berry aromas started to appear but it is still far from open aromatically. Instead of being hard as nails, the tannins have softened to feel like a painfully young Barolo. Needs time.2009 Moric Blaufränkisch Alte Reben Lutzmannsburg - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland
13,5% abv. Rubbery and reductive; didn't really open up during the evening. The palate showed promise: crisp and clean fruit, sappy, moreish and refreshing. But it is tight. Needs age.2006 Weninger Blaufränkisch Dürrau - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland
Nice to get a high-end Austrian red without new oak - Dürrau is always aged in big, old barrels. It has a ripe, but obviously BF aroma despite veering towards a darker fruit profile. Rich but crunchy and so refreshing after so many oaky wines! Nice!2004 Weninger Blaufränkisch Dürrau - Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland
And this was perhaps the best wine of the evening. A really lovely, bright, un-oaky Blaufränkisch aroma; medium body but intense, good struture and perfectly enough fruit. Very moreish. Lovely!
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.