[Image from the Pratsch Vineyards.]
Thanks to Winesellers, Ltd., my global palate experiences are growing by leaps and bounds. What this has to do with YOU is that what I am leaning, I’m passing along. And, it’s with the hope that you step outside of your own comfort zone. Search out these worldwide wines. What fun it is to continually taste something new; instead of saying, each time you’re asked, “I’ll have a glass of the house Cab.” Really, you’re not that boring, and you know it.
Become daring! Release your inner explorer. For some of us, the only way we get outside of our tiny spheres is by asking for that Austrian Wine on a wine list or in a wine shop, when making a decision for what to try next. (“Next” is the operative word.) For those of you who lived in National Geographics magazines during your junior high years, yeah, I’m talking to you.
As luck would have it, not only did lovely Austrian Wines appear at my doorstep for tasting, but an Email from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board also appeared in my Email in box. Since the wines are from the 2014 harvest, this has just made it very easy for me to share a comprehensive picture.
Let’s learn about Austrian Wines together
This is a very difficult story to read, if you have any appreciation of the kind of weather wine grapes need.
“After a very mild Winter and a dry, beautiful beginning of Spring, an exceedingly cool, wet month of May served as a first warning. There was favourable weather during the flowering period, however, after a brief heat wave, the wet conditions returned and lasted more or less throughout the entire Summer. August in particular was extremely cloudy and lacking in sunshine, although there were still some signs of a good vintage ahead. The final confirmation of a difficult vintage, however, was a very wet September. Only in October did the tide turn just a bit for the better.”
The last thing any winegrape growing season needs is a wet season. Wine grapes need dry, sunny days to flourish; so, reading about “an exceedingly cool, wet month of May,” is enough of a challenge. To see it continue means that only the cream of the crop is going to rise to the occasion. And, as the Austrian Wine Marketing Board continues to point out, Winemakers stepped up their game.
Regions and Conditions and wines
Think Pratsch; think Organic
Organic winegrowing to the Pratsch family is more than just the elimination of pesticides, fungicides and artificial fertilizers; but rather part of a larger, holistic philosophy of dedication, to the land and the quality of the wines. Grapes grown on glacier formed hills with alluvial soils, the ripening process of the estate-grown grapes is promoted by high, sun-exposed vine trellising, known as the Guyot Double.
REGION: Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) – fresh, fruity Veltliners and fine Riesling
- 2012 Biohof Pratsch Riesling Lange Ried Organic Wine
- VARIETY: True old world Riesling, only 2,000 cases of this was was crafted. It sat for nine months on the lees: Ah, these little yeast skeletons… They impart so much creamy flavor, and yet it’s not obtrusive.
- WINE: Delicious, aromatically fragrant, and delighting your palate in spicy stone fruit ways… peaches, plums, and apples. This one is a highly recommended Riesling from Austria… where Riesling began to put down permanent roots.
2014 Biohof Pratsch Weinviertel DAC Grüner Veltiner, Steinberg (Wine by Stefan Pratsch, and DAC is a recent classification introduction similar to the French AOC.)
- VARIETY: Grüner Veltiner
- WINE: I’m a huge fan of Veltiners, having tried them years ago, and then began wishing they were on everyone’s wine list in restaurants. We’re lucky if we find Viogniers, right? This dry, aromatic Pratsch Weinviertel DAC Grüner Veltiner is lean and well defined, a perfect representation as an Austrian wine. During harvest, it experienced the latest possible harvesting date. Gently processed, it also had ultra gentle de-stemming. Extended skin contact for over five hours, and a very cool fermentation… Time, just slowed down. Think of how delicious our foods are when slowly prepared, versus fast food… (Sorry, fast food abominations turn me off, too.)
2014 Pratsch Biohof Grüner Veltiner
- VARIETY: Grüner Veltiner
- WINE: Deliciousness just rolls all over inside of my mouth, with this 2014 Biohof Pratsch Grüner Veltiner. It elicited an automatic “Oooooo, that’s a really tasty wine.” It’s a Grüner that exemplifies what I love about this variety; crisp, clean, and bringing forth its cool climate roots. What kind of soil, I wondered…. Seems like it’s white rocks? Grown on Austria’s rolling hills, to have better aeration and soil drainage, the soil is alluvial (sandy with some clay). Alluvial soil is filled with sediments from mountain runoff water and naturally contains lots of minerals, and is a perfect soil type for cultivating grapes.
- ORGANIC GRAPES: first of all, these grapes were grown in lower Austria. And, I applaud Organic grapes. The theory behind the organic movement is purity, and I love that aspect. Once crafted, this wine is delivered to Vienna and bordering cities. Taste the purity… If you’re an organic type person, you’ll know what I mean.
2014 Biohof Pratsch Rosé Niederösterreich (Organic Wine)
- VARIETIES: Sankt Laurent (Saint Laurent), Blauburger (crossing of Blauer Portugieser x Blaufränkisch), Zweigelt, Pinot Noir
- WINE: Crushing of the grapes was followed by a four-hour cold soak, which extracted the color and flavors. Think stainless steel tanks and you know that it’s going to be crisp. All the above red wine varieties above go into this rosé, and yet it’s as delicate as a single variety rosé, with an easy pleasing focus. Delicate hands made this wine, especially given the conditions of 2014, giving it only a 12 percent alcohol level. (Yum!) A black Forest ham croissant made this one especially delicious; but, when lunch was gone, the savoring of the wine continued. Only 1,500 cases were produced; Delicate, rare, savory, and refreshing. Think appetizers for the upcoming holiday season. Take people where you love to go… Out of a comfort zone.
- This one drinks like a summer breeze with a touch of delicately sweet lace. I created a Quinoa Salad with dried cranberries, almond slivers, green onions, diced cucumbers, and dressed it in a cider vinegar and rich olive oil. I only sprinkled it with a bit of salt, and the rose put the icing on the cake, as we like to say.
2013 Biohof Pratsch Zweigelt (Organic Wine)
- VARIETY: Zweigelt Organic Wine
- WINE: This one we shared with our friend, Dr. Sondra Barrett. It was from a very small production *833 cases… Only 35 cases were made. It’s exclusive, as all of these wines are. If you see them on a shelf in America, grab them. The bottom line is that this wines are all a great value. This was a rich red wine that was still delicate enough for our vegetarian meal the evening that the bottle was opened and enjoyed.
- Rich flavors of cherries dominated on our palates, but not so much that we couldn’t keep going with our long overdue chatter. It was a wine for all reasons, and everything, most especially the wine, was in perfect balance. This is a very harmonious wine… regardless of what you’re doing, you’ll love it.
More regions, but no samples to follow talk about, at this time.
That said, this is still about Austria and its regions, so one day this one will have more information.
- REGION: Burgenland (Eastern Austria) – red wines with red berry tones and white wines with animated vibrance
- REGION: Steiermark (North, Northwest) – deep fruity Sauvignon Blancs and supple, balanced Burgunders
- REGION: Wien (Vienna) – complex Wiener Gemischter Satz