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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Annual Austrian Tasting 2016

Annual Austrian Tasting 2016

When a tasting starts with a country's greatest producer, the remainder risks being disappointing.

I've missed this tasting for a few years, but a return visit reminded me of why I fell in love with Austrian wines.

Like unexpectedly bumping into your childhood sweetheart, there was that pit-of-the-stomach thrill, a heady giddiness and a familiar recollection that yes, you are just as wonderful as I remember.

Top Producer - Knoll
Based at the warmer, eastern end of the Wachau, the elusive and eponymous Knoll is Austria'a greatest producer.

Smaragd Ried Schuett 2012 Riesling full and mineral with some beeswax. Elegant, pure and precise. Very Good Indeed.

2013 slightly less full-on, but also Very Good Indeed.

Smaragd Ried Kreutles GV 2015 stone fruit, pure and precise - ripe, rich and full. Very Good Indeed.

Top Co-op - Domaene Wachau
Duernstein-based co-op Domaene Wachau produces both blends and single-vineyard wines.

Smaragd Ried Achtleiten GV 2015 mineral with white stone fruit; long and precise, still closed up. Very Good.

Beerenauslese "Terrassen" 2015 complex beeswax, sweet spices and ripe peaches. Full, long and substantial. Very Good.

Other Wachau

One of the Big-Four Wachau producers, Hirtzberger's vineyards are exposed to cooling northerly air.

Smaragd Ried Axpoint GV 2015 complex white pepper, ripe stone fruit and minerality; concentrated, pure and precise. Very Good.

Smaragd Ried Hochrain Riesling 2015 ripe pineapple, citrus and minerality; long and deft. Very Good.

Top Styrian - Polz

Polz's entry-level wines are crystalline and precise; the top wines add a complex weighty, Burgundian texture.

Ried Grassnitzberg Chardonnay 2014 creamy, mineral, precise and fresh; substantial and Burgundian. Very Good.

Ried Hochgrassnitzberg "GSTK" SB smoky, flinty with ripe fruits and a rich creamy-leesy texture. Fresh, elegant and complex. Very Good.

Best Winemaker - Huber

Based in Traisental, outside the Wachau, Markus Huber was Austria's Winemaker of the Year in 2015.

Klassik Ried Obere Steigen GV 2015 fresh, mineral, pure and precise. Good.

Top Burgenland Dry Whites - Ernst Triebaumer
Warmer Burgenland is best known as home to Austria's reds and stickies.

Ernst Triebaumer Klassik GV 2015 spicy, peppery, racy, mineral and adept. Good.

Ernst Triebaumer Reserve Ried Pandkraeftn Ch 2013 sweet spices, oatmealy-nutty, elegant and mineral. Good.

Best Kamptal - Angerer

Excellent reds and whites from differing terroirs just outside the Wachau - available from Noel Young Wines.

Klassik Ried Kiesling "Kies" GV 2016 fresh, zippy, substantial and mineral; pure and precise. Very Good.

Granit Zweigelt 2012 supple with dark fruit and firm, assertive tannins. Very Good.

Best Quevri - Ott

Ott makes a range of very impressive conventional wines, but his quevri-fermented Gruener is the highlight.

Qvevri GV 2013 peppery, textured and substantial - fascinating and other-worldly. Good.

Best unavailable wine

Styria's Tement is a longtime favourite of mine - sadly, the wines are not currently available in the UK.

Ried Zieregg "GSTK" SB 2011 complex, suphurous nose, substantial, long and deft with an oatmealy-leesy texture. Very Good Indeed.

The 2014 is rather lighter and fresher, but still very complex and long.

Ried Grassnitzberg "1STK" SB 2015 substantial, creamy, full, mineral and complex. Very Good.

Tasting followed by Austrian buffet - including cakes.


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