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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Austria's Red Wines‏: Weninger and Arachon T.FX.T

A while ago, I bumped into Jancis Robinson at an Austrian wine event and learnt she was there reviewing only the reds, whereas I had opted to focus solely on the whites.

I had done this as, historically, I have been rather underwhelmed by Austrian reds and found them, whilst technically well-made, a little lacking in complexity and merely full of ripe juicy acidity.

However, when Jancis devotes a whole afternoon to tasting Austrian reds (see here), it would be foolhardy not to revisit my earlier opinions.

I started with three reds from Weninger, based in Burgenland on the Pannonian plain near the Hungarian border.

This part of Austria is the country's warmest wine region as, although not the most southerly, it is low-lying and warmed by Mediterranean air currents; as a result, it produces almost all of Austria's reds and stickies.

The Blaufränkisch from Mittelburgenland was light and juicy, with cherry fruit, balanced on the palate with some grip on the finish.

The Hochäcker had a more complex nose, denser tannins and felt more mouthfilling and complex, but with the same good cherry fruit.

The Alte Reben ("old vines") also had bright cherry fruit and vanilla on the nose with a grippy finish, but somehow did not feel quite as mouthfilling as the Hochäcker.

All three wines were quite "Italian" in style - that is, straightforward cherry fruit on the palate, slightly rasping acidity on the finish and needing to play a supporting role to some food - which seems to support my theory that Austria is, in every sense, the missing link between Germany and Italy.

I was rather more impressed by the reds from Arachon T.FX.T, a member of Austria's Fine Brands.

The mouthful of a name represents the historic name for the village where the winery is based (now Horitschon) plus the initials of three original partners in this joint venture - Tibor Szemes, FX Pichler (whose own wines are reviewed here) and Manfred Tement (reviewed here).

The a'Kira Blaufränkisch was very good; up-front with a rich nose of spicy vanilla and a complex palate of spicy bramble fruit, with toasty hints, pepperiness and some liquorice and eucalyptus and some pleasant grip on the finish.

The Evolution was even better - a little more restrained on the nose, it had a denser texture, bright brambly fruit, some cherry and vanilla, pepperiness and well-integrated tannins giving a grippy finish.

In the Evolution, the straightforward indigenous grape varieties, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt provide the juicy cherry fruit and pepperiness, whilst some Cab and Merlot are added to round out and deepen the wine.

Recommended wine - no surprises here, the Evolution; Arachon T.FX.T Evolution 2008.

For details of where to buy, see here: http://www.arachon.com/source.php


Weninger - www.weninger.com

Arachon T.FX.T - www.arachon.com

Austria's Fine Brands - http://www.austriasfinebrands.com/

Jancis Robinson's 2011 article on Austrian reds (Purple Pages) - http://www.jancisrobinson.com/tasting_articles/ta20110216.html

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