Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Willi Klinger Leads Wine Tasting of Austria’s Undiscovered Stars in Vienna at EWBC 2010
Pictures: Willi Klinger leads Wine Tasting of Austria’s Undiscovered Stars in Vienna at EWBC 2010
The 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) took place in Vienna at Schloss Schoenbrunn earlier this year. A main sponsor of the EWBC was the Austrian Marketing Board which used the event to showcase wine producer Austria to the 200 wine bloggers from around the world. This was done, inter alia, in an impressive way by a tasting of Austria’s Undiscoved Stars, led by the Austria Marketing Board’s boss Willi Klinger.
Wines from Austria
Austria has about 50.000 hectares of vineyard, equivalent to about half of Germany’s total vineyard area and one fifth of France’s vineyard area. Almost all of it in the east of the country. “In the west we ski, in the east we make wine”, says Willing Klinger, head of Austrian Marketing Board. About 70 % of the production is white wine and 30% red wine. About 75 percent of Austria’s production is consumed in Austria and 25 percent is exported.
Austrian wine culture is ancient; people have been producing wine in Austria for 4000 years. But everything changed in 1985, when Austria was rocked by the “antifreeze wine scandal”. Some vintners were caught illicitly sweetening their products with glycol. As a result, the market for Austrian wine, especially the semi-sweet styles then in favor, evaporated overnight. Yet the scandal initiated a revolution that has propelled Austrian wines on to the world stage. It led to a broad rethink, with an emphasis on higher-quality production and innovation that soon became noticed. Young winemakers, drawn by the new emphasis on quality over quantity, brought cutting-edge techniques and farsightedness to vineyards and cellars, revolutionizing both.
The Tasting: Austrian Undiscovered Stars
Willi Klinger knows his stuff, his English is beautiful and he is fun to listen to. “The Austrians are very good in terms of marketing” he said, “we were able to make the World believe that van Beethoven as an Austrian and Hitler a German”. Willi is also a very good jazz singer, but the EWBC participants could unfortunately not benefit from this asset of Willi.
Picture: Austria and its Wine Regions
The other special thing about this tasting was that the EWBC participants were to identify their favorite and that favorite would then be put on the web site of Naked Wines, a UK wine importer, for sale in the UK. All the wines we tasted came from winemakers that are not yet present in the UK market. As a minimum, 1000 bottles needed to be available for sale in the UK.
The notes below are my observations merged with Willi Klinger’s comments. We tasted the undiscovered stars in 3 flights plus a noble-sweet wine.
Herbert Zillinger, Ebenthaler Lagen, Grüner Veltliner, 2009, Weinviertel DAC: Typical Gruener Veltliner Weinviertel DAC, fresh and crisp, some green flavors and notes of grapefruit on the nose, good acidiy.
Martin & Anna Arndorfer, Reserve Strasser Weinberge, Grüner Veltliner, 2009, Kamptal DAC: A Gruener Veltliner with a bit more alcohol than the first one from a young shooting star, creamier, complexer, more powerful than the first one, more aging potential, no wood.
Walter Buchegger, Gebling, Riesling, 2009, Kremstal DAC: Riesling accounts only for 5% of Austria’s wine production, some of the greatest Rieslings are from the Danuber valley, harvested 2 weeks later than the Gruener Veltliner, peaches and mango on the nose, good acidity, lingering finish.
Winner: My favorite was the Martin & Anna Arndorfer, Reserve Strasser Weinberge, Grüner Veltliner, 2009, Kamptal DAC, but the crowd’s favorite was: Walter Buchegger, Gebling, Riesling, 2009, Kremstal DAC
Birgit Braunstein & Martin Pasler, vom Leithaberg, Chardonnay, 2009 Leithaberg DAC: Very talented winemakesr, working towards biodynamic principles, non-traditional grape variety Leithaberg is the most Burgundian wine region in Austria when comes to white wines, some wood, well composed, nice structure.
Mayer am Pfarrplatz & Rotes Haus, Wiener Gemischter Satz Nussberg, 2009: Field blend from the Nussberg, where in 1683 the Turks were decisively beaten by the Austrians, supported by their European allies, fresh and crisp, easy on the tounge, dry.
Walter Skoff, Obegg, Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Südsteiermark: Suedsteiermark is the Tuscany of Austria, attack of peaches and mango on the nose, good acidity, noticeable residual sweetness on the palate.
Winner: My favorite of the second flight was Mayer am Pfarrplatz & Rotes Haus, Wiener Gemischter Satz Nussberg, 2009 and this was also the crowd’s favorite.
Artner, Rubin Carnuntum, Zweigelt, 2009 Carnutum: Red wine production in Austria took off in the 1980s, 11 months in new and old wood, not too much oak, blue and dark berries combined with vanilla on the nose, fruit driven, a hint of bitterness on the palate.
Bauer-Pöltl, Reserve, Blaufränkisch, 2008, Mittelburgenland DAC: Bio-dynamic producer, Burgenland is stronghold for Blaufraenkisch, which is called Lemberger in Germany, fine nose, concentrated, racy acidity, lots of tannins, spicy, tobacco, bitter chocolate.
Schneider, Reserve, St. Laurent, 2008 Thermenregion: St. Lauent is an Austrian version of Pinot Noir, very dark in the glass, red berries on the nose, good tannins, nice touch of wood, good structure.
Zull, Pinot Noir, 2008 Niederösterreich: Very transparent in the glass, notes of wet stone and red berries on the nose, austere and lean on the palate, a fragile wine.
Winner: My favorite was the Artner, Rubin Carnuntum, Zweigelt, 2009 Carnuntum, but he overall winner of third flight was Schneider, Reserve, St. Laurent, 2008 Thermenregion.
Last Wine: Ausbruch
Moser Hans, Ausbruch Aus den Rieden, Cuvée, 2007 (noble-sweet) Burgenland: Austria produces noble-sweet wines in all regions, if conditions permit, a cuvee of Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Sauvignon Blanc, not too sweet, but I would have liked some more acids.
Overall Winner as Selected by Wine Bloggers of the EWBC 2010
The participants’ favorite was: Mayer am Pfarrplatz & Rotes Haus, Wiener Gemischter Satz Nussberg, 2009. In just a matter of hours after being selected in the tasting, the wine became available on the web site of Naked Wines.
And here is how Naked Wines advertised the wine: “The wines is a blend of 13 grape varieties, dominated by Gruner Veltliner. The vines are grown on a hill with the most incredible views overlooking Vienna. Perfect with sushi, Thai green curry or as a Sunday lunchtime kick-starter.” 6 bottles cost BP 58.80.
Schiller Wine - Related Postings
Austria's 13 Top Zweigelt Wines - The 2009/2010 Falstaff Selection
Austria's 17 Best Zweigelt Wines - The 2010 Wein.pur List
German Wine makers in the World: A. Schlumberger, Austria
Wine ratings: Austria's best red wines - 2010
Wine ratings: Austria - Falstaff Top Red Wines 2009/2010
Welcome to America: Franz and Christine Netzl Estate, Carnuntum, Austria
The 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in Vienna
Wine Producer Austria - Not Only Gruener Veltliner