Several important wine critics have indicated that the Austrian white grape variety gruner veltliner presents amazing potential for cultivation in Australia. My sommelier friend James Dossan and I sit down to chat about the origin of the grape, the classic styles made in Austria, and then proceed to taste through a range of different wines from Austria, New Zealand and Australia.
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Most of the wines we tried were from the 2011 vintage and were thus very young and shy.
There was great vibrancy and freshness, and often a natural spritz to the gruner veltliner and riesling wines.
The older vine wines tended to also have a natural fruit sweetness to them whilst remaining dry, and in some cases a nutty texture and complexity.
The major difference I found was with the age of the vines, as the Alte Reben 2011 Riesling was fuller, denser and had a very complex savoury white meat character.
The red wines were generally good but nothing too exciting apart from the Ladner St. Laurent 2008 which was both dense and spicy as well as being supple and mellow.
Some of the Brundlmayer wines
Stadt Krems Kremstal Gruner Veltliner 2011
Ripe perfumed floral notes with a broad and opulent palate of fresh peach and generous acids.
Stadt Krems Wachtberg Erste Lage Gruner Veltliner 2010
Concentrated floral elderberry minerality, delicate and soft yet full-flavoured fruits, and focused yet exhilaratingly subtle acidity on the palate.
Stift Gottweig Gottsweiger Berg Gruner Veltliner 2011
Very bright but dense and rich, broad and soft on the palate with good drive and ripeness.
Stift Gottweig Silverbichl Reserve Erste Lage Riesling 2010
Quite bold in its aromatics and texture, and had nicely balanced fruit and savoury elements.
Stadt Krems wines
Loibenberg Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2011
Very delicate tropical notes and mid-palate depth
Kollmitz Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2011
Riper and more floral candied nose with softer and fuller fruit on the palate coupled with a nutty complexity.
Pichlpoint Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2011
Unique earthy ripe orchard fruit character, with some warmth and texture on the palate.
Achleiten Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2011
Sweet floral berry character with better balance and integration, but was really showing too much youth.
Kellerberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2000
Much richer deeper golden colour, was slightly oxidative and oily on the nose, a smoky and salty complexity on the palate and hints of ginger and spice.
Amphorae at Domaene Wachau
Ried Schutt Gruner Veltliner 2010
A very bright and juicy floral nose with high minerality but also delicacy. The palate is very textural and concentrated, showing a flinty element with great line and length.
Loibenberg Gruner Veltliner 2010
Much earthier and more brooding, with intense berry notes on the nose. There is more volume and depth of ripeness on the palate, with a more savoury texture but no less vibrant.
Loibenberg Riesling 2010
Very delicate nose of citrus blossom and a slightly sweet sap and toast complexity. It is opulent and rich on the palate, quite broad and yet bright and delicate at the same time.
Schutt Riesling 2010
A much zestier citrus spritz to it, coupled with that same reductive freshly boiled pasta nose I had seen previously. There is volume and texture in this wine, but it is all about the concentrated fresh tropical citrus fruits and bracing acidity. Wines of purity, elegance and depth, and well worth the investment in cellaring.
The remaining Weingut Knoll 2010 wines
A mixture of 2011 and 2010 vintage wines were included in the white wine tasting, and again the 2010 wines stood out for their concentration of acidity and fruit, and yet their balance purity and elegance.
Comparing the Gebling Erste Lage Gruner Veltliner between the vintages showed that whilst the 2010 had a slightly smoky spicy nose with a slightly grassy tropical palate, the 2011 was more soft and broad with stone fruit approachability.
Gebling Reserve Riesling 2010
Very vibrant in the floral and tropical citrus aromatics, had wonderful length and minerality, and superb ageing potential.
Over lunch we tasted a few of the red wines which come from the Burgenland vineyards, and typical for Austria they were soft yet full with black fruits and delicate spice notes.
Sepp Moser cellars
The 2011 gruner veltliner wines all exhibit very green spicy fruit aromatics and great purity and freshness on the palate.
Alte Reben Gruner Veltliner 2010
Much more ripe tropical stone fruit nose, with more volume and fruit sweetness on the palate
Privat Sentfenberger Pelligren Erste Lage 2010
A bold nutty oily fruit concentration, and was actually closer to a riesling in style.
Dornleiten Riesling 2011
Very delicate with a nice floral and lime sherbert nose, but looking a little green at the moment.
Senftenberger Piri Riesling 2011
Had a lot in common with the GV from the same site, showing earthy minerality with a sharp berry and quince fruit character.
Privat Riesling 2010
A very heady and creamy honey aroma, wonderfully rich and ripe but still very fresh and mineralic.
Pinot Noir 2009
Very earthy, meaty and mushroomy, with depth and complexity, but it was very difficult to see any fruit and was a little clunky.
There are two federspiel quality wines – the Hinter der Burg Gruner Veltliner and the Steinriegl Riesling – which are sourced from the two largest single vineyards. The quality of these wines is as good as any smaragd wine I have tasted from other producers, showing depth concentration and personality.
There are three particular gruner veltliner wines which are made from specific parcels within the Achleiten vineyard, and amazingly all have their own unique personality.
Very bright and floral, full of heady inspiration.
Wachstum Bodenstein 2011
More concentrated in the earthy savoury minerality, showing a slightly salty white meat complexity with quince and grapefruit elements.
Achleiten Stock Kulture 2011
An intense and rich fruit nose of white berries and interestingly tomato juice.
The smaragd riesling wines are all of purity and intensity, with the most developed and yet balanced fruit of all the rieslings I have tasted in Austria.
The Klaus in particular was very closed in its smoked meat and earthy texture and viscosity, in an almost Spartan-like stoicism.
Soil composition of one of the Prager vineyards
Rotes Tor Federspiel Gruner Veltliner 2011
A deep berried spice nose, very subtle but with bright flinty minerality.
Rotes Tor Smaragd Gruner Veltliner 2011
Much more texture and volume, and was rich in a stone fruit earthy style.
Significantly more closed than the others, and showed more pear fruit and opulence, and more integrated alcohol than the Rotes Tor.
Steinterrassen Federspiel Riesling 2011
Suffering from bottle shock having only been bottled a few weeks before, and so was a little closed and reductive on the nose. There were some nice floral citrus notes, and was very tight and fresh on the palate.
Hochrain Smaragd Riesling 2011
Lovely cherry blossom sherbet concentration on the nose, and on the palate had good weight and balance with a stone fruit delicacy.
Above some of he Franz Hirtzberger vineyards
It is difficult enough trying to find time to visit each region and spend enough of it to really get to know the producers, varieties and styles. There are so many regions in Europe alone that I am having to compromise in missing so that I can spend enough time in other regions. Further difficulties have come up recently as I have been attempting to get a working-holiday visa for Germany so that I can join such producers as Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in the Mosel and Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen. It’s also important for me to be able to travel in Europe for the remainder of the year. This has meant I have had to return to my local Aliens Authority office in Neuss where a friend lives three times, the most recent time driving back for nine hours to provide fingerprints and my signature. I’m also not so happy with my car so I’m trying to find a mechanic who can have a look at it, but it’s not so easy. Thus I had to cut my Austrian journey short and I didn’t get to visit Burgenland as I planned.
|The “Rotes Tor” (Red Door) entrance to the vineyards above Hirtzberger