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Austrian Wine – Diversity in Red


I was fortunate to attend the Austrian Red Wine seminar presented by Wein Burgenland at Cork Tasting Room in Washington, DC this past October.    The event was organized by Stephanie Artner, Austrian Trade Commission, and Constance Chamberlain, Wine & Co.  Christian Zechmeister, Managing Director of Wein Burgenland, led us through the formal part of the tasting of which I was able to taste the Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, and Burgenland Blends flights.  My published tasting notes are only peppered with red wines from Austria so to taste 17 wines and like so many of them, made for a memorable experience.  My favorite wines included both those with more mineral and fruitier natures.  I was certainly not surprised to prefer those with less obvious oak influences but was surprised by enjoying the small inclusion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  All of these wines should be available in the Washington, DC area so be sure to ask for those which sound appealing.


Blaufrankisch Flight

This was an interesting start for me.  The 2009 Prieler, Leithaberg is on the other side of the lake from the 2010 Paul Achs, Blaufrankisch Edelgrund.  Thus the slate soils of the Prieler clearly came through in the wine.  The 2009 Weninger, Blaufrankisch Hochacker is from fruit located on heavy loam soils with plenty of nutrients and water absorbing capability.  The mountains are high enough to keep the cold air away.  Perhaps this made it a mouthfilling wine.  The 2009 Jalits, Eisenberg Reserve, Eisenberg is from fruit located on the red soils of Eisenberg.  This 500 ha area has heavy loam soils with a high iron content.  I believe this is revealed in the mineral flavor and structure of the wine.


2010 Paul Achs, Blaufrankisch Edelgrund, Burgenland – $35
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a gentle nose of ripe, sweet, perfume.  In the mouth were firm black and red fruit flavors, a hint of pepper, and integrated lively acidity.  It had a lighter body with pepper and a greenhouse note.  Brighter.


2009 Prieler, Leithaberg – $58
Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 20 months in large barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.    There was black fruit and a hint of smoke on the nose.  In the mouth were more flavors of black fruit, minerals, and a creamy feel.  This was nicely put together with more minerals in the aftertaste.  Nice.


2009 Weninger, Blaufrankisch Hochacker, Mittelburgenland – $28
Imported by Circo Vino.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 16 months in large barrels.  Imported by Circo Vino.  In the mouth there were sweet spices at first followed by black fruit.  The wine had a slight texture and was more mouthfilling.  The fruit was slight tart compared to the riper fruit on the nose.  There were grapey tannins in the finish.


2009 Jalits, Eisenberg Reserve, Eisenberg, Burgenland – $30
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 12 months in small barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a more subtle nose.  In the mouth were red fruit, a touch fruiter than others, with black mineral flavors that mixed well with the tannins.  This showed more structure and grip.  It should evolve well.

St. Laurent Flight

St. Laurent produces low yields and is hard to grow.  The 2010 Pittnauer, St. Laurent Rosenberg is sourced from sandy soils and produced a light wine.  The 2011 Steindorfer, St. Laurent Reserve is produced using fruit from the same area but is a more modern style.  I think that should appeal broadly but for my preference I would cellar it so the oak is absorbed.  The Pinot Noir pair was interesting.  The 2009 Umathum, Pinot Noir Joiser Terrassen played it close with more mineral notes.  The 2009 Juris, Pinot Noir Reserve is sourced from soils of sandy loam and some limestone.  This produced a more aromatic and weightier wine that should age well.


2010 Pittnauer, St. Laurent Rosenberg, Burgenland – $55
Imported by Magellan Wine Imports and Savio Soares Selections.  This wine is 100% St. Laurent.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was more vegetal with black fruit and vintage perfume.  In the mouth the tart red fruit is quite filling.  There was moderately ripe cherry fruit, tangy on the tongue tip, moderate structure, and tart to almost-puckering acidity.  The tannins were a little more obvious.


2011 Steindorfer, St. Laurent Reserve, Burgenland – $30
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines.  This wine is 100% St. Laurent which was aged for 14 months in barrique.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a richer nose of dark red berries.  There was richer, bigger flavors with minerals and racy grip. The wine turned bluer with a vanilla sweet note in the finish. There was very well balanced with obvious oak influence.  This was very approachable but should age well.  The acidity was less overt.


2009 Umathum, Pinot Noir Joiser Terrassen, Burgenland – $45
Imported by Winemonger.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a more subtle nose.  In the mouth were flavors of tart, black fruit.  The wine had concentration and picked up grip towards the finish.  This was finely made with finesse but it plays it close right now.  There were minerals towards the finish with a sweet mixture of minerals and spices in the finish.


2009 Juris, Pinot Noir Reserve, Burgenland – $46
Imported by Blue Danube Wine Company.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was lifted with ripe red and blue berries, perhaps a touch of smoke.  In the mouth there was a ripe start then sweet-tart flavors came out with tang in the finish.  There was a drying structure.  The dense blue and black fruit built weight and concentration.  This should age well.

Burgenland Blends Flight

This was a fun flight.  The first two wines were a blend of indigenous varieties with the third wine a blend of international varieties.  The 2008 Gesellmann, Op Eximium proved to be a well priced example showing attractive bottle-aged flavors.  From the same vintage the 2008 Gernot Heinrich, Pannobile showed younger berry fruit.  The 2009 Leo Hillinger, Hill 1 incorporates both Syrah and Merlot.  The later of which might seem surprising but there are sandy soils near the lake not unlike St. Emilion in Bordeaux.


2008 Gesellmann, Op Eximium, Burgenland – $27
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a little wood box on the nose with red fruit, sweet spices, and a spearmint hint.  This was mouthfilling with sweet wood box making it taste of some bottle age.  There was a fine grained texture with black fruit in the finish.  Then the wine turned redder with a fresh aftertaste.  Acidity is there.  A good, solid wine.


2008 Gernot Heinrich, Pannobile, Burgenland – $55
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 63% Zweigelt, 35% Blaufrankisch, and 2% St. Laurent.  Alcohol 13%.  There was younger fruit on the nose with red aromas, and an underlying dark note.  In the mouth the wine was a bit sappy with red fruit that mixed with complex flavors.  The mixed red berries were slightly ripe, with some tartness coming through.  There were ripe tannins.


2009 Leo Hillinger, Hill 1, Burgenland – $65
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines. This wine is a blend of 40% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufrankisch, 20% Syrah, and 10% Merlot.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a dense nose of meaty, red and black fruit.  In the mouth were grapey fruit flavors with a little spearmint.  The wine slowly filled the mouth with more tannins and grip in the finish.  There was some roundness which matched the ripe tannins which was a little spicy.  This is set up for age.

Wine Bar Flight


After the seminar we all mingled and were free to taste from the wine bar.  As I had to leave I quickly tasted through the majority of the wines.  The 2009 Matthias Peck by Scheiblhofer, Zweigelt Andau proved to be a strong value.  Though four years apart in vintage the 2011 Netzl, Anna-Christina and 2007 Pockl, Rosso E Nero nicely show off the use of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


2009 Matthias Peck by Scheiblhofer, Zweigelt Andau, Burgenland – $14
Imported by Monika Caha Selections.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were cool blue and black fruit flavors, wood box, grippy ripe tannins, and concentration.  Nice.


2011 Hannes Reeh, Zweigelt Unplugged, Burgenland – $30
Imported by A. I. Selections.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was redder fruit, tart flavors, and a drying structure.  The acidity was there.  There were young red and black flavors in the finish.  Needs time.


2009 Moric, Moric Reserve, Burgenland – $54
Imported by Winemonger.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 13%.  There were tart and tangy flavors of black fruit.  The tannins were unobtrusive.  The flavors became redder towards the finish.  This tastes young in terms of evolution.


2011 Netzl, Anna-Christina, –
Imported by Select Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Zweigelt, 20% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14%.  There was nice concentration to the black fruit.  There was seamless integration of the acidity, fruit, and very fine grained tannins.  There was good fruit and a fine future for this wine.


2007 Pockl, Rosso E Nero – $50
Imported by Monika Caha Selection.  This wine is a blend of 50% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufrankisch, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This showed some mature aromas, cedar, and creamy fruit on the nose.  There were similar but haunting flavors in the mouth.  The red fruit integrated with the acidity.  The black mineral flavors came out before the drying tannins.  The aftertaste brought more minerals.  This is a youngful wine that should age well.  Nice.


2008 Anita & Hans Nittnaus, Pannobile – $36
Imported by Frederick Wildman & sons.  This wine is a blend of 60% Zweigelt and 40% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 13%.  There was tart, young fruit which was less evolved.  The red fruit mixed with acidity and a drying structure of citric tannins.

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