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Flavors from the World of Wine,Wine,Winery

Austrian Wines That Have Recently Excited and Educated My Palate

[Lyla Diaz is in the foreground, with Melanie Hoffman in the background.]

Weekly Holidaze Drawing: Just leave a comment on any wine-blog entry this month, to win gifts this December.

ANOTHER GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY from the Austrian Tourist Office. They’re holding a contest called “It’s Got to Be Austria Facebook Sweepstakes,” where the winner chosen (and his/her guest) will receive a 7-day themed vacation package of their choice valued at $4,500. One of the vacations to choose from is the Food and Wine themed getaway. [Austria captures the spirit of the bygone era: Ornate palaces, imperial monuments and their vibrant wine scene, which has earned a worldwide reputation for its quality and innovation.] To enter the sweepstakes, become a fan of “Austria. Official Travel Info” on Facebook. Facebook fans can receive an additional sweepstakes entry by tweeting about Austria on Twitter using the hashtag: #itsgottobeaustria. The contest runs now through January 15. More information and official rules can be found at It’s Got to Be Austria or via Facebook at Austria Travel Info. Contest is open to residents of the U.S., 18 and over.

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For whatever reason, and I’m not questioning it, I have recently had a lot of Austrian wines come my way. At the beginning of 2009, my New Year’s resolution was the following:

For 2009, I’m resolved to learn about Portugal’s history and its place within the wine world.

That resolution has had major consequences in my life, which have included finding Enoforum (a Portuguese wine client), a trip to Portugal (so I may learn about all things Portuguese firsthand), attending the European Wine Bloggers Conference (as a guest of Enoforum). As my focus is now including a more worldly focus, other opportunities are now opening up. This blog has always been a place where I’m journaling what the wine industry is teaching me about the world of wine. International opportunities abound, and I’ll be presenting a few of them to you, keeping all else that I’m experiencing also in balance.

My 2010 New Year’s resolution will be forthcoming, and is going to include a lot more of world history and understanding, emanating from a Portuguese perspective, as I’ve barely touched the surface, I’ve learned this year. Meanwhile, at the close of December 2009, I’ve just enjoyed a lot of what Austria has to offer through their delightfully gorgeous white wines.

The following is a list of my recent Austrian tastings that I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

2008 Fred Loimer ~ Lois ~ Grüner Veltliner (GREW-nuhr Felt-LEEN-ehr) White Table Wine ~ 12% alcohol, Imported by Winebow, Inc. [SRP: $15.00]

This wine was fascinating for me to taste, because this is a totally new variety and the first time my palate experienced this cultivar.  The most planted grape variety in Austria,  “Grüner” is German for green. This wine appeared in a green colored bottle, green capsule, green font name “Lois.” The emphasis on green seems to be true to the freshness that epitomizes this wine.

A very refreshing wine, this Grüner Veltliner has a bit of perfume on the nose, with hints of lemongrass, kiwi, honeydew melon, a slight petrol, and white smoke at the end of the bouquet.  On the palate we (Melanie Hoffman and I) found bright citrus that was juicy and fruity grapefruit, lemon curd, with a very nice floral – honeysuckle – finish.

This is a beautiful wine that would pair well with room temperature brie cheeses.

2008 Steinterrassen * Riesling, Federspiel, Franz Hirtzberger, Wachau, Austria ~ 12% alcohol, Imported by Vin Divino Ltd., Chicago. [SRP: $21.00]

This wine is just gorgeous. For a Riesling, I have to say the traditional petrol was absent, but not to its detriment. I enjoy a bit of petrol, but I also enjoy a low alcohol, lively lemon flavored wine that’s as refreshing as it is satisfying. This Riesling offers really bright, tart fruit that would pair well with so many aperitifs. You just couldn’t go wrong with this one as an opener wine during any gatherings.

I see this one with a plate of Portuguese black olives, dried dates, goat cheese, pecans, and wheat crackers… All very delicious.

2008 Doman Wachau, Terrassen Federspiel, Grüner Veltliner ~ 12% alcohol, Imported by Vin Divino Ltd., Chicago. [SRP: $18.00]

The low alcohol in these wines make them a hit with me. And, I love the screw cap on this one. It’s not mean for cellaring, so make it as simple as possible is my mantra. The nose on this wine had cantaloupe, vanilla, watermelon, mint, and crushed blueberries. the palate pretty much followed the nose with this one, and also tasted of floral and sweet fruits – like those all combined in a fruit salad. Very yummy. Think cheeses…

2006 Lawrenz V. Grüner Veltliner, Imported by Folio Wine Partners, (Michael Mondavi’s new incarnation) SRP: $26.99

FROM THEIR WEB: The grapes for this very charming wine are grown in the Kamptal region of Austria. Here, the Grüner Veltliner ripens in granite, gneiss, mica-slate as well as loess soils. And from the neighboring region to the north, the rugged Waldviertel , blows cool air that substantially lowers night temperatures in the Kamptal; this in turn slows up the ripening process of the grapes. But these conditions are exactly why the wines from this region taste so fresh and fruity. The New World calls the phenomenon “Cool Climate Viticulture.” And wines from these cooler regions are highly respected and treasured.

This wine has a crisp acidity from the fruit, and  minerality from its granite, mica-slate soils. I immediately loved Grüner Veltliner, because my palate is thirsting for new white flavors. This wine delivered aromas of golden delicious apples and a typical Veltliner spiciness that married to create a intriguing fruit bouquet. On the palate, the wine was soft, round, and juicy, which was supported by its fine fruit acidity. It was a very smooth wine, and the flavors are very specific to it. I can’t compare it to anything else… It’s just a really great Grüner Veltliner.

2006 Kracher Cuvee Beerenauslese, Imported by Vin Divino Ltd., Chicago ~ about 12 percent alcohol. SRP (375 ml bottle): $32.00

This is a gorgeous dessert wine. Its color is pale, golden yellow. It has exciting and inviting aromas reminiscent of muscat and a sweet honey nose, with star anise, vanilla, star fruit, blood orange, and pineapple. Tightly wound and mineral-driven, the flavors have a vibrant acidity that gives way to a compact structure of a blood orange reduction, with passion fruit and pineapple flavors lingering on the back end.  It’s decadent, my friends! Just yummy!

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13 Responses to “Austrian Wines That Have Recently Excited and Educated My Palate”

  1. Great to see you broadening your wine horizons. I have had a very good year with Austrian and German wines. The Laurenz gruner is one of my favs and I even had the chance to speak with the man himself at the ’09 London International Wine Fair about his Friendly Gruner- check out the short video
    http://winesleuth.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/friendly-gruner-veltliner/

    Cheers and happy exploring!

  2. Roger says:

    Jo,

    I see you like lemongrass. If your interested I have a wine for you from the Temecula Valley AVA. Cougar Vineyard & Winery is the only winery in the valley to grow the Vermentino cultivar.

    If your interested that is. 🙂

  3. Loweeel says:

    GruV is pretty good stuff, for a white. I actually kind of like Zwiegelt…

  4. Randy Watson says:

    Very cool! I just entered!

  5. Jo says:

    TheWineSleuth, Thanks for your comments (and RTs on Twitter!)

    OMG… Looking at your video, I just figured out who you are! After meeting at the WBC in 2008, then the European Wine Bloggers Conference this past October… There you are!

    Sorry, your avatar for Twitter just didn’t connect the dots, my friend. I feel like I just found a long-lost friend. Too funny!

  6. Jo says:

    Roger… love Lemongrass. Yes, send along the Temecula and I’ll report back to you.

  7. Jo says:

    Loweeel,

    GruV is really different, and with the kinds of foods I enjoy, I can see this one being a fav of mine… just like TheWneSleuth, above.

  8. Jo says:

    Randy,

    Glad you entered! Good luck. I pull from a hat, so there’s no way of knowing, until this Saturday.

    [I’m also giving away another pair with my New Year’s blog… It’s all written and I will tell people there’s another pair, so don’t miss the Friday blog. That one day should have a low readership, increasing everyone’s chances on New Year’s… Little tip/secret for anyone reading today’s comments.]

  9. Jason P says:

    Jo,
    It is nice to see you heading across the pond for some great Austrian wines. We visit there almost every year while also visiting family in Switzerland. We have had some incredible Gruner’s, Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch wines. If you get the chance to stay there, I highly recommend the Schalber Wellness Hotel Serfaus http://www.schalber.com/. It’s the only place we stay. They have the most incredible food and wine there as well.

  10. ConstanceC says:

    Jo I’m so happy to see you enjoyed the wines! Those are some of my favorites! You really should try some of the reds, 2010 will bring great things! 🙂

  11. Jo says:

    Constance, thanks for your comment. We really did enjoy the wines. It’s great to have extra palates to be tasting with me, because it not only heightens the experience, but it’s also continuing the education of others. These wines provided a very special memory, and – if I’m not mistaken – this is a really important ingredient for remembering wine… when it’s share with loved ones.

    I added your blog to my blog role!

  12. Jo says:

    Jason,

    How fortunate for you to have a Swiss wife with family still firmly planted in Europe. This is surely enough reason to go there each year. How remarkable… Any of my relatives from Europe came over in the 1600s, so there I am… orphaned in that regard.

    Thanks for the Schalber Wellness Hotel Serfaus recommendation.

    I just spent 10 days in Portugal (end of Oct. and into November), and I dream of returning. I can’t imagine only traveling to Europe just once in my life. I have to believe it’s just the beginning.

    You’re in a great groove with it all!

  13. ruthie scarduzio says:

    great sounding trip

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