I’ve long been a fan of red wines from Austria — in fact, I usually order Zwiegelt whenever I see it on a wine list (which, sadly, isn’t as often as I’d like). No matter the producer, it’s usually a reliably juicy, slightly spicy wine with cherry and red berry flavors, sometimes aged in oak but sometimes not. However, Austrian wine is still rather difficult to find, which is why I was so excited about the Austrian wine tasting held in Tribeca. This was my second year at the event, packed with importers and winemakers showcasing their wares.
The most widely planted white grape — and the one most on display at the tasting event — is Gruner Veltliner, which has gotten much acclaim in recent years. It’s usually spicy with apple notes and high acidity. We also tasted a number of Rieslings, which ranged from fresh and bright to more unusual notes of bubble gum and tar.
Zwiegelt is the most widely planted red grape in Austria. Zwiegelt is actually a crossing of Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent — a variety you don’t see very often in the U.S. but that I’d like to drink more. The samples I tried at this wine tasting event this year and last were very interesting — bold, ripe, and complex.
Since Austria is the leading country in the EU for organic agriculture, according to the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, a large number of the wines we tasted were organic and many were also biodynamic. Here were some of my favorites from the tasting:
2008 Meinklang Konkret St. Laurent: Tasted of candy and grapes, and fermented in concrete eggs.
2007 Tinhof Steinriegel Blaufrankisch: Smooth and fruity, aged in big oak barrels.
2009 Eder Federspiel Riesling: Crisp, fruit forward, and flowery.
2010 Groiss Steinberg Gruner Veltliner: Clean and fresh, with characteristic high acidity.
2009 Weixelbaum Wahre Werte Ried Gaisberg Riesling: Strong mineral flavor, lots of complexity.
2010 Weixelbaum Stephanus Gruner Veltliner: Simple and straightfoward.
2007 Weixelbaum Strassertal Zweigelt: Red cherry, well-blended, no oak.
2010 Stadt Krems Grillenparz Reserve Riesling: Peach, fruity aromas, aging potential.
2009 Pratsch Zweigelt: Light oak, fruit and dust.
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief