Sweet ‘FA’ – How ‘F’izz from ‘A’ustria is Delighting our Palates
3rd December 2020
Austria is a country known for its famous castles, palaces and impressive buildings, it’s snow-peaked mountain tops offering tourists skiing holiday delights and despite being a landlocked country it still attracts 46 million visitors annually.
The land that gave birth to Marie Antoinette, Sigmund Freud and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. The place where Ludwig van Beethoven spent much of his creative life (1792, Beethoven relocated to Vienna). With foods delights from Tafelspitz to Viennese Apfelstrudel and drinks from sekt (sparkling wines) to Red Bull (company was founded in Austria). Impressive mountains thanks to the Alps and a wealth of some 300 lakes to enjoy. What is there not o like about Austria!
We are here, of course, to focus in on the wine and especially the Sparkling Wines of Austria.
The wine regions of Austria are located towards the east and south/east of the country and are split into four regions:
- Niederösterreich (27,000ha)
- Vienna (620ha)
- Burgenland (14,000ha)
- Steiermark (Styria) (4,000h)
The four regions are mostly populated with smaller wineries and usually owned by families which means that a lot of the wine produced is sold locally and exportation figures are not as high compared to Champagne or Prosecco. This will also weaken most people’s knowledge about the wines which this country produces, but thanks to recent marketing drives and importantly the quality of wines being produced, this is being corrected.
Interesting fact: “Approximately 62% of Austria is covered by the Austrian Alps.“
No in-depth write up of Austrian wine can really bypass what was known as the 1985 diethylene glycol wine scandal. Some of the bigger producers were said to have used diethylene glycol to increase their wines’ sweetness before it was sent off to Germany to be bottled – Though no deaths were reported, it simply decimated their sales when the news broke out. It took a number of years for people to forget and to forgive and we are only really seeing in the recent couple of decades an increased interest in Austrian wines (in the 1920’s it was said to be the third biggest exporter of wine).
Austria wine is now set, since 2003, within Districtus Austriae Controllatus (connecting regions with a grape variety) that covers 16 sub areas that are split within Niederösterreich, Vienna, Burgenland and Steiermark.
Austria took home seven gold medals and two trophies at the Glass of Bubbly Awards 2020 and certainly made its mark on the competition. Wonderful aromas and flavours were discovered from across the wine regions with splendid examples including Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs.
Thanks to its terroir, winemakers and variety of grapes we can enjoy a nice variation of wines from Austria. Grüner Veltliners, Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt and Rieslings are some of the commonly grown grape varieties.
“In Austria, there are 26 white and 14 red grape varieties – officially approved for the production of Qualitätswein (quality wine) or Qualitätswein with a special level of ripeness and/or method of production (Prädikatswein) and Landwein. The proportion of red wines by area planted has doubled over the past two decades and now represents one third of Austria’s area under vines, which total 46,500 hectares.” source Austrian Wine Marketing Board
How Fizz from Austria is delighting our palates:
As we browsed through our wine library we picked out several award winning sparkling wines from Austria to give ourselves an idea to what the region has to offer from some of the larger wineries along with those smaller grower winemakers.
The winery Weingut Jordan mostly offers a selection of still wines (red & white) along with two sparkling wine labels. Located in Pulkau within the Niederösterreich wine region.
“We wish to treat you to our expressive wines at their highest quality, that reflect our home region, the Weinviertel.“
Weingut Jordan – Grüner Veltliner Brut tasting notes: “A softer expression of the Gruner Veltliner grape with white floral, peaches in syrup aromas. Again, flavours are more delicate with a subtle expression of yellow and green fruits, welcoming citrus acidity and yet an overall smoothness to the tasting experience.”
The 2020 Trophy Winner in the category of ‘Forget Me Not’ was Johanneshof Reinisch from Austria. A winery producing special wines from the vineyards of Tattendorf and of Gumpoldskirchen and being located in the wine region of Niederösterreich just south of Vienna.
“The surrounding region has a distinguished tradition of wine-making, and today this geologically fascinating area on the western edge of the great Pannonian Plain numbers among the country’s most prominent winegrowing centres.“
Johanneshof Reinisch – Pinot Noir Brut Reserve 2014 BIO tasting notes: “Delicate red rose petals, red berry fruits on the nose. A subtle creamy almost butter character red fruits in flavours, touch of dryness in length.”
You can always rely on strong and bold characters from the sparkling wines of Steininger. Usually, it is their Gruner Veltliner (especially 2016) that I get to taste and rave about, though this time I selected their Sauvignon Blanc But. Located in Langenlois with is set in the wine region of Niederösterreich.
“For generations, our winery has stood for the combination of tradition with modern cellar technology, but always for uncompromising quality. We have the privilege to live and work in one of the most beautiful wine-growing regions in Austria.“
Steininger – Sauvignon Blanc Brut Reserve 2016 tasting notes: “A very green character to this style of wine from Steininger. Garden nettles and herbs on the nose with a touch of green fruits. Green fruit flavours with herbs, soft lime zest.”
Sektkellerei Szigeti can be found in Gols that sits within the Burgenland wine region of Austria and just a few km drive away from lake Neusiedl (The lake covers 315 km², of which 240 km² is on the Austrian side and 75 km² on the Hungarian side).
“Szigeti winery was founded in 1991, Peter Szigeti has made it his most important task to capture the varietal characteristics of the grape varieties in his products.“
Sektkellerei Szigeti – Pinot Noir Rose tasting notes: “Creamy red fruits, raspberry pastry on the nose. Softer red fruits in flavours from red apples to freeze dried raspberry lead to a drier taste sensation. Quite delicate in character.”
Schlumberger holds an appealing range of sparkling wines that at least one label will impress you. Located in the capital of Vienna (Wien), it is open to public tours of its ‘secrets’ within a tour of the 300-year-old cellars.
“All Schlumberger products meet the high standards of the Austrian quality pyramid for sparkling wine, which was introduced in 2017.“
Schlumberger – Pinot Noir Reserve tasting notes: “Soft red berry fruits, minerals and spices on the nose. Drier flavours with red fruits, soft spice / white pepper and minerals.”
A few minutes walk away from Schlumberger you will also be able to discover the Johann Kattus winery. Another winery that offers a wide selection of sparkling wines and certainly will suit everyone’s taste with classic sparkling wine to light frizzante.
“For over 160 years the Austrian family company Kattus has stood for the highest Austrian quality in the field of sparkling wine production. Quality, regionality, tradition and innovation.“
Johann Kattus – Grande Cuvée tasting notes: “Light fruity aromas. Green fruits mostly with a touch of green foliage / yellow floral. Easy to drink. Certainly light and fruity in tasting style – an ideal glass of bubbly for those wanting a not to complex wine.”
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.