WT101 - Austria
If German wine remains a surprisingly hard sell for many international wine enthusiasts, how do you think Austria feels? This smallish, German-speaking nation on Germany's southeastern flank produces only a tiny fraction of all the world's wine, and even some wine-savvy retailers who ought to know better will carelessly stock the Austrian wines in with the Germans, in the apparent belief that consumers won't mind.
But Austrian wines are different - different, I tell ya! In spite of the common language and a few shared grapes (most notably Riesling), Austria's wines boast a splendid character all their own, a character that - a full generation after an unfortunate adulteration scandal rocked the Austrian wine industry during the 1980s - is finally beginning to win a small but growing and very enthusiastic "cult" following.
We hope to expand that following, and learn a thing or two about Austrian wine together, as we declare Austria the featured topic for this month's interactive Wine Tasting 101 Forum
. We hope you join us as we look more deeply into Grüner Veltliner ("GV"), the white grape variety that may make Austria's most distinctive wines, and examine the other wines and grapes of this small but surprisingly diverse wine region.
Because Austrian wines tend to be made in limited quantities and distributed spottily, we're not declaring specific "benchmark" wines for tasting this month. In general, though, if you'd like to participate in WT101 by tasting and talking about wine, I suggest you begin with a <b>Grüner Veltliner</b>, or several. In the U.S., it's hard to go wrong with any Austrian wine imported by <b>Terry Theise</b>, whose wines are represented in different parts of the country by various regional distributors.
Some of the Austrian producers whose wines I've been able to find locally in recent years, listed alphabetically, include <b>Berger, Bründlmayer, Hiedler, Hirsch, Höpler, Loiben, Mantlerhof, Nikolaihof, Söllner, Undhof</b> and <b>Weingärtner</b>.
WT101 Guest Host David M. Bueker has posted a thoughtful summary about Austrian wines on our Netscape WineLovers Community, where you're welcome to read, comment or ask questions. Look for it at
http://community.netscape.com/winelover ... 1&tid=4308
For more advanced discussions, David's post is also mirrored on our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group at this link:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/vil ... .php?t=868
For more information, Julia Sevenich, a sommelier and chef in Austria, has contributed several articles about Austrian wine producers:
I published a quick overview of Austria and its wines in the April 12, 2004, <i>Wine Advisor</i>:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvis ... 0412.phtml
and trip reports from a short visit to several Austrian wineries in 1998,
For links to my occasional tasting reports on Austrian wines, click
For extensive information about Austria and its wines, available in German, French, Chinese and English, see the Austrian Wine Marketing Board's Website. For the English pages, click
Finally, if you can handle a little German, you don't have to be fluent to glean the basics and winery contact information from this database of wine reports published by the Austrian magazine <i>A la Carte</i>: