IWC Taste of Gold event in London, I bumped into Tim Atkin MW and asked him what he had been impressed with. He mentioned a couple of stands but the one that caught my attention was the Austrian reds.
They were on my "to see" list anyway as I am a big fan of Austrian wines, but typically just the whites. I reviewed some reds at the LIWF a few weeks ago after talking to Jancis Robinson MW at an earlier Austrian event where I had done only whites and she had done only reds.
Some had been very good and really enjoyable, but a few others, whilst technically well-made, had, to me, shown up some of the limitations of Austria's indigenous grape varieties.
But here was another MW saying that I must check out the reds and so I headed off.
I started with a Blaufränkisch from Velich - based in low-lying, warm Burgenland, Velich makes some superb dessert wines and a Burgundy-style Chardonnay that I bought regularly when I lived and worked in Vienna.
Blaufränkisch tends to produce somewhat Italian-style reds with lots of rasping cherry fruit acidity and, all too often, not too much else. This one, however, was rather more complex and interesting - still light and juicy, it had smokey, toasty aromas, bramble fruit and some oakiness with soft tannins and a creamy texture. It has also won the Blaufränkisch Trophy.
Next came a wine I had tried previously at LIWF, Kamptal-based Kurt Angerer's Zweigelt Granit from 2008 (the last really warm year in this part of Austria).
Zweigelt is a cross of Blaufränkisch and St Laurent (itself a relation to Pinot Noir), so the wines tend to be light, aromatic and cherry-esque. This one had lots of cherry fruit, but also blackberry, some spicy pepperiness and a real depth of flavour.
It was also proving particularly popular with visitors on the evening and has three Trophies - Zweigelt, Niederoesterreich and Austrian Red.
I then moved on to a couple of sweet wines starting with a Croatian wine from producer Ilocki Podrumi. The grape variety was given as Graševina which is the local name for Austria's Welschriesling, something of a workhorse grape but capable of being interesting if well made.
Floral and highly aromatic on the nose, it is reminiscent of a headily perfumed Pinot Gris; the palate is weighty and ripe showing marmalade and touches of intense, pungent botrytis balanced with good acidity.
Next was a Lenz Moser Prestige Beerenauslese from 2008. Lenz Moser is something of a legend in the Austrian wine industry - there is a system of vine-training named after him and his range of wines is immense, even if they are aimed more at the supermarket than the independent merchant.
He is based in Lower Austria but has clearly been spreading his wings as this BA is from Burgenland which is warmer and produces more intensely sticky dessert wines. Ripe, tropical and marmaladey but with good refreshing acidity, it is another lovely dessert wine from this region and, amazingly, retails for under a tenner.
Overall, my favourite wine here was the critics' and general public's choice - the thrice-awarded Zweigelt Granit from Kurt Angerer. £20.49 from Noel Young Wines.
Noel Young Wines - http://www.nywines.co.uk/
Velich - http://www.velich.at/
Kurt Angerer - http://www.kurt-angerer.at/
Ilocki Podrumi - http://www.ilocki-podrumi.hr/
Lenz Moser - http://www.lenzmoser.at/de/