Wednesday, August 8, 2012

“Wine Ambassador” Klaus Wittauer Presented Austrian Wines at the Embassy of Austria in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: Klaus Wittauer and Christian G.E. Schiller at the Embassy of Austria in Washington DC

Klaus Wittauer was the protagonists of a very special event at the Austrian Embassy in Washington DC, organized by the German Wine Society (Capital Chapter). Klaus introduced us to the wines of Austria and Chef Ken of Open Kitchen served delicious food with an Austrian touch. 

This wonderful event consisted of 2 parts. We started out with a Sekt reception during which Klaus presented two Austrian sparklers and Chef Ken of Open Kitchen served small bite fare, including the famous Viennese Schnitzel.

This was followed by a sit-down winetasting, when Klaus took us on a fascinating journey of Austrian wines. In total, Klaus served 11 different wines. He focused on white wines, but we also had a chance to taste 3 red wines.

Wine Producer 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”, said Klaus. 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.

Grape Varieties

Austria is known for making excellent dry white wines, in particular from Grüner Veltliner. But Austria is not only Grüner Veltliner from the Weinviertel, it is a country with a range of different wine regions producing a diversity of wine styles, including some great noble-sweet wines and increasingly serious red wines.

Pictures: First Part: Reception

Grüner Veltliner: Austria’s own variety, which is capable of making full flavored, spicy whites often with a distinctive white flower and cracked pepper edge to them. It is a particularly food-friendly wine. Grüner Veltliner accounts for about 1/3 of Austria’s wine production. We tasted 3 different Grüner Veltliner wines.

Riesling: Riesling performs very well but accounts only for 3% of Austria’s vineyard area.

Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc): Makes lovely gently aromatic dry white wines in southern regions such as Südsteiermark.

Welschriesling: Austria’s second most planted white grape and not related to the true Riesling. Fresh, simple fruity dry whites are the norm.

It is the whites that get most of the attention, but the reds have quietly been improving. Like in Germany, in Austria there has been a revolution going on in terms of red wines in recent years. In both countries, red wine now accounts for about 1/3 of the wine production.

Zweigelt: The most abundant red grape. Bred at Klosterneuburg in the 1920s and now accounting for nearly half of Austria's red wine. Zweigelt makes good wines ranging up to substantial reds destined for ageing.

Pictures: Second Part: Presentation

Blaufränkisch: Common in the Burgenland. Blaufraenkisch makes spicy, sturdy, berry fruited reds which can have some tannic structure. Probably Austria’s best red grape.

Portugieser: This red grape makes soft, approachable, juicy wines mainly for early consumption. The most widely planted red grape but not for top quality wines.

St Laurent: Came from France in the mid-19th century, and seems to have substantial Pinot Noir parentage. Makes soft, slight herby, expressive reds; it’s a bit like Pinot Noir.

Wine Regions

Austria is divided into 4 main wine regions - Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) with 30.000 hectares, Burgenland with 15.000 hectares, Steirerland (Styria) with 4.000 hectares and Wien (Vienna) with 600 hectares, which are split into 16 districts. All of Austria’s wines are grown in the eastern part. We had wines from 5 different wine regions.

Picture: The Wine Regions of Austria

"Wine Ambassador" Klaus Wittauer

Klaus and I go back many years. He was born in Austria and attended Hotel and Restaurant Management School in Salzburg. He then worked for many years in some of the world‘s top restaurants in Austria, Bermuda and the United States, including the lovely L‘Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia, where we first met. Then he moved to the trade side and became the wine buyer for Sutton Place Gourmet (today: Balducci) in Washington DC before creating his own export company in Austria with renowned Austrian winemaker Anton Bauer about ten years ago. At the same time, he created KWSELECTION in the US.

Pictures: Klaus Wittauer, Chef Ken and Christian G.E. Schiller

Today, KWSELECTION includes top producers from most of the wine producing areas of Austria: Anton Bauer from Donauland, Leo Hillinger from Burgenland, Gustav Strauss from Styria, Martin Mittelbach from Wachau, Karl & Brigitta Steininger from Kamptal, Steindorfer from Neusiedlersee, Proidl from Kremstal , Meinklang from Burgenland, Joseph Bauer from Donauland and, this his most recent addition, Weingut Netzl from Carnuntum.

As an Austrian married to an American, Klaus has a close relationship with all of his wineries in Austria and has succeed in expanding distribution throughout the United States, with a strong focus on the East Coast.

Chef Ken from Open Kitchen

Chef Ken from Open Kitchen, an eco-friendly restaurant in Falls Church in Virginia, came to the event to present small bites with an Austrian touch. Open Kitchen was recently awarded certification by Virginia Green as a certified Green Restaurant.

Pictures: Chef Ken

As its name suggests, the space of Open Kitchen is pretty much open, with the meal preparation going on in front of your eyes, especially if you snag a counter seat.

Here is what Chef Ken served.

Summer Ratatouille Tartlettes
Summer Mushroom Smear on Toast
Mini Pork Schnitzel
Mini Apple Strudel

See more: A German Riesling Dinner at Open Kitchen in Washington DC, USA

The Wines Klaus Wittauer Served 

Leo Hillinger Secco Sparkling Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir sparkling Rose is made in a Prosecco style. It has aromas of red berries which follow through on the pallet. It is beautifully balanced with a very pleasant, harmonious and refreshing long finish. ($17)

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Klaus Wittauer and Leo Hillinger Assistant Winemaker Michael Hoeffken

See more on Leo Hillinger:

Visiting Leo Hillinger, Michael Hoeffken and Edgar Brutler at the Leo Hillinger Winery in Jois, Austria

Tasting Leo Hillinger Red Wines with Leo Hillinger’s Assistant Winemaker Michael Hoeffken and US Importer Klaus Wittauer

Leo Hillinger Wines and Alsatian Food with Hillinger’s Michael Hoeffken and Chef Jacques E. Haeringer at L’Auberge Chez François in Virginia, USA

Steininger Gruener Veltliner Sekt 2009

Yellowish-gold; bouquet of pepper; tricky and noble; perfect mousseux; aroma of Darjeeling-tea, blossoms and pepper; young and fruity freshness and enchanting grace. ($29)

Picture: The Sparklers

Strauss Pinot Blanc Classic 2011

Tastes like a full-bodied Alsacian Pinot Blanc for half the price. Subtle floral aromas permeate a core of soft pear fruit and fresh acidity, followed by a long smooth finish. Excellent balance and food versatility. ($16)

Anton Bauer Gruener Veltliner Rosenberg 2011

Ried Rosenberg is one of the best-known vineyards in Austria, and produces some of the greatest Grüner Veltliner in the world. Very aromatic aromas full of round fruit balanced with crisp acidity. The distinct soil lends a pleasant mineral and white pepper note typical of this varietal. Pairs well with a wide range of foods including Asian cuisine and fish with fresh herbs. Excellent value and quality. ($17)

Steininger Loisium Gruener Veltliner 2010 DAC Kamptal Reserve – Steven Holl

Named after the architect who built the Loisium. A single vineyard Veltliner with inviting fruit in the nose, exotic notes and fine ripe aroma of apples. The finish is complex and balanced with a long beautiful echo. ($19)

Pictures: The White Wines

Tegernseerhof Gruener Veltliner Hoehereck 2009 Smaragd

Clear, finely woven Veltlinerfruit. A exotic and powerful fruit on the palate. Fine elegance, engraved, with long aftertaste. ($39)

Tegernseerhof Riesling Steiertal 2009 Smaragd

This single vineyard Riesling rivals the greatest white wines in the world. It´s peach, apple aroma flavors, mingle with a white pepper note in this scented yet powerful Riesling. Balanced and ending with a mineral aftertaste. ($37)

Netzl Rubin Carnuntum Zweigelt Selection 2009

Dark ruby garnet with youthful reflexes, dark, ripe cherry in the nose, loads of fruit, berries and juice on the palate, harmonious toasting, balanced and intensive ripe tannins, a wine with charm and elegance. ($17)

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Franz and Christine Netzl at the Netzl Estate in Austria

See more on Netzl:

Welcome to America: Franz and Christine Netzl Estate, Carnuntum, Austria

Visiting Christine, Christina and Franz Netzl in their Weingut Netzl in Carnuntum, Austria

Anton Bauer Wagram Cuvee 15 2009

This rich sexy blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet and Merlot is aged for 12 months in French oak. It is soft, juicy and complex with violet & licorice aromas, layers of plum, dark berry fruit, spice with a smooth silky finish. Although absolutely delicious on its own, it will also complement beef, duck, grilled pork, tuna and rich red sauces. ($17)

Picture: The Red Wines

Leo Hillinger HillSide 2009

A new wine of Leo Hillinger – 70% Syrah, 20% Zweigelt and 10% Merlot. It has an explosive nose of raspberry, sweet tobacco and vanilla. Big and full up front with good spice, black pepper and a long pleasant finish. ($25)

Steindorfer Beerenauslese Seewinkel 2007

50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Traminer. Elegant nose, spicy honey, peach, complex and intense on the palate, with juicy apricot and harmonious acidity on the finish, which goes on and on. ($29 half bottle)

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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Welcome to America: Franz and Christine Netzl Estate, Carnuntum, Austria

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Tasting Leo Hillinger Red Wines with Leo Hillinger’s Assistant Winemaker Michael Hoeffken and US Importer Klaus Wittauer

Visit: Gerhard Wohlmuth sen. and his Weingut Wohlmuth in Austria

Dinner with Wine Maker Gerhard Wohlmuth sen., his Wines and the Food of Steierland’s Chef Ruth Stelzer, Austria

Meeting Gerhard Wohlmuth jun. from Weingut Wohlmuth, Austria, and Tasting his Wines in Washington DC

Visiting Leo Hillinger, Michael Hoeffken and Edgar Brutler at the Leo Hillinger Winery in Jois, Austria

Wine Producer Austria - Not Only Gruener Veltliner

Austria’s Best Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff WeinGuide 2011

At the Forefront of Biodynamic Winemaking: Visiting Werner and Angela Michlits and their Weingut Meinklang in Austria

Visiting Christine, Christina and Franz Netzl in their Weingut Netzl in Carnuntum, Austria

A German Riesling Dinner at Open Kitchen in Washington DC, USA

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