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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Premium Estates of Austria; wines from Sattlerhof and Loimer‏

At the Annual Tasting of Austrian Wines, I tried wines from two different producers, both members of Premium Estates of Austria and chatted to MD Andreas Wickhoff.

Styrian producer Sattlerhof is based in the south of the country near the Slovenian border where the vineyards are at altitudes of several hundred metres, reliably warmed by southerly air streams, but chilly overnight, leading to a long growing season.

I already knew Sattlerhof's wines reasonably well as they are served in a number of Vienna's better restaurants, and on this occasion they were showing a Morillon and a Sauvignon.

Morillon, the Styrian synonym for Chardonnay, is always unoaked and often makes for a good aperitif; this one was typical of the region, being light and crisp with refreshing acidity and good structure.

However, I thought the Steirische Klassik Sauvignon was a more interesting wine with lots of herbaceous character, good linear acidity and a crisp yet balanced finish.

Moving on to the Loimer wines from Lower Austria (confusingly in the north of the country), I asked Andreas to suggest one that was showing well at the time.

I know Loimer only by reputation and the wine Andreas picked was a Grüner Veltliner made from 15-20 year old vines.

Fermented 50% in stainless steel and 50% in old oak, it had lots of varietal character with aromas of celery, white pepper and puy lentils and a smokiness on the finish.

Andreas explained that the idea behind Premium Estates of Austria is to group together a number of high-quality producers from different regions within Austria to promote their wines jointly and thereby share costs.

It costs the same to get one person to a trade show in London regardless of how many wines they show, so if, as here, two producers club together, the cost to each is only half.

This idea of a producer's marketing group is not new and in fact is gaining popularity.

Given that wine is generally an artisan product made in limited quantities (if we put aside New World conglomerates), the challenge for smaller wineries is how to maintain individuality on the "product-side" whilst enjoying the benefits of acting like a large company on the "business-side".

If the usual tricks of increasing volume or quality are not an option - if you already have as much suitable land as there is readily available and the wines are already well-made - then sharing marketing and business development costs with other producers is the logical next step.

These sort of groups, then, provide an opportunity to tap into some marketing expertise without having to bear the full-time cost and also to gain some of the business benefits of economies of scale.

It also makes financial sense for the consumer, as it means more of the ultimate selling price is represented by the cost of what's in the bottle and less goes on business admin.

Premium Estates of Austria was established in 2004 and represents 6 producers of Austrian wines and related produce.

Both producers' wines are imported into the UK by Liberty Wines.

The Wines

Morillon Steirische Klassik, 2009 Suedsteiermark, Sattlerhof (12.5%)

Sauvignon Blanc, Steirische Klassik, 2010, Suedsteiermark, Sattlerhof (12.5%)

Grüner Veltliner, Terrasseb, 2009, Lower Austria Loimer, £13.95

Links

Video of Premium Estates of Austria  -

Sattlerhof - http://www.sattlerhof.at/

Loimer - http://www.loimer.at/

Premium Estates of Austria - http://www.premiumestates.at/

Liberty Wines - http://www.libertywine.co.uk/

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