An Austrian Adventure
You know you have become a wine sissy when you refer to a series of tastings as an adventure. You then sadly realise that you will never be able to brave the outback alone or accompanied and a vineyard will be all the wilderness your faint heart can manage.
Pity, but on the flipside, you get to taste some fantastic wines. Here is a rant oops I mean list of some things I recently got to nose and tongue. Wherever there are breaks the grape variety or wine style may be changing. The key is:
PB – Pinot Blanc, SB – Sauvignon Blanc, PG – Pinot Grigio, WB – WeissBurgunder aka PB, GB – GraueBurgunder aka PG, RS – Residual Sugar
One more thing; an asterisk (*) denotes a personal favourite. Honestly, few wines were bad and turn-away-able. The brands mentioned here pretty much epitomise the highest echelons of winemaking in the (Southern) Styrian region or Austria.
1. Kappel Weissburgunder: classic PB taste: creamy and tad nutty. Nice easy and light.
2. Weingut Primus WB: fruit loaded, RS, lacks some acidity but a friendly style.
3. Branigg: nice bright yellow label: oooh well yummy that. Lemony and fruity. Very rich and broad in flavours.*
4. Meinhardt Hube: Even funkier label with orange and men carrying grapes like a hunted warthog, chardonnay, so a PB offspring.
5. Potzinger Morillon: Very perfumed nose, unusually tropical and light for a chardonnay. Yummmy! Oak or no oak, can’t tell. I’d say no. *
6. Maitz Morillon: Oak-aged Chardonnay, still very elegant and fruity and gains a lot of layers by this but loses some to bitter-oak finish. Maybe not exactly a Terroir wine but i am sure that it will appeal to one and all in a blind tasting.
7. Elsnegg Grauburgunder: A very good varietal representation; does great with light lychee, minerals and an excellent finish. Commendable.
8. Regele GB: Hint prickly, terse but a bit stern. Doesn’t do it for me, personally.
9. Gross WB ’07: Soft, held back, mineral, too nuanced. Big barrel, Classical style, as am told. A tad shut.
10. Neumister WB ’07: Desi ghee (clarified butter) sets the ball rolling. Oak is the reason for such: big barrel and barrique. Heavy style. Retails for €13.50. Has a mineral finish but a tad masked.
11. W. Skoff WB ’07: At 8.3 g/l of RS this may not be typical and is flirtatiously close to halbtrocked (9g/l). Else, is light and easy. Can work with the right dishes.
Morillon is only authorised in Styria to mark Chardonnay wines. Nobody else may mark it so. In fact even Pinot Chardonnay was allowed back here in 1985 given how mixed and confusing the plantations were.
12. Lackner-Tinnacher ’08: Clean but has something that depicted oak although there is none, am told. 5g/l RS but undetectable.
13. Jaunegg ’07: Oak for sure, a bit flabby and sticky, even at 1.9g/l. Tries to be something else but ends up being something else.
14. Sattlerhof ’06: Ideally you would expect that the term Morillon refers to a more classical style but that is obviously not the case. White burgundy style here, old oak, very Meursault. Elegant and layered but will need time still before it opens up. *
15. Polz ’06: These brothers know their grape, making one playful yet potential ridden wine in the process. 6g/l RS shows. STK is the unofficial appellation started by the top 7 producers in the region for private vineyard classification.
16. E. Sabathi ’06: Super tropical fruity, super rich, very NW, but not No World; has some mineral kick and acidity to keep it alive through the finish 14.5%. A bit OTT perhaps but definitely likeable. Other wines from the same house: 2 Gelber Muskatellers, one from Possnitzberg by erwin Sabathi and one from Czamillonberg by Tscheppe am Possnitzberg: first was classic and varietal whereas second was very SB, with tropical guava and some floral notes.
17. The Erwin Sabathi SB 2008 is superb. Restrained fruit with heaps of elegance. The SB 2004 comes next: The colour is pale as previously but the richness on the nose is stunning. Minerals, fruity, some green notes, still fresh but just more concentrated without seeming jammy. The finish is long and mineral. Hence concluded the SB can age and age without losing its freshness.
18. Next is SB by Tscheppe am Possnitzberg: This also packs a lot of flavour, is bone dry and definitely likeable but seems a hint flabby; a tad slower on account of alcohol (14%) perhaps.
19. Wohlmuth ’05: Serious wine; very elegant and reserved. Not for the wallet wielding, to be sparingly served to those in the know. *
Grauburgunder or PG, as the world knows it.
20. Winkler-Hermaden ’07: Smoky, hint bacony, mineral still. Very tight and well-held. The wood used is from his own forest, local Styrian oak.
21. Muller ’07: Prickly and candied (floral). Clean and crisp, more recognisable as a PG. Seems light but is quite heavy and packed.
22. Krispel ’07: Definitely candied and off dry, 6.9g/l RS The mineral finish in most Austrian wines is what makes them come together like few others.
23. Neumeister GM Steirische Klassik 08: lovely balance and elegance; can dance pirouettes around you without as much as a whiff of effort.
24. Sattlerhof SB Steirische Klassik 08: A fairly elegant held-back style. Good soft nose, typical but not too excessively so. Palate speaks a little more. Overall, a tad muted.
25. Lackner-Tinnacher Morillon Stienbach 2007: PB i’d say, creamy and soft…but is a chardonnay…very elegant and in balance.
26. Muller Ruländer Der PG 1997: Polz SB Hochgrassnitzberg Reserve: Showing its age, spice and tertiary character with plenty of oak-induced richness. Creamy, layered and lovely, with character aplenty. *
27. Polz Hochgrassnitzberg Reserve SB 2003: The oak seems to strip the wine of some primary fruit, trying to replace with Graves-like depth. But the result is not as complimentary. A tad sweet with plenty of bitter-oak on the finish, this doesn’t seem to do it for me. Willi loves it, claims it the best pour in a while, but to meet the RS seems annoyingly intimidating.
28. Gross SB Nussberg 2001: At first nose, oxidised! Made my ears perk up; had I missed something? Was this seemingly funky taste with some RS truly intended? It still has balance but unannounced, I’d be sending it back. (It was oxidised! The erstwhile winemaker tasted the wines a day before and left them for service the next day…what a gaffe!!)
29. Polz Obegg Morillon 2002: Good rich chard, pulls through well and with balance of oak and fruit.
30. Tement Pinot Noir 1997: Simply charming. A tad aged and perhaps jaded but still charming.
31. Dom. Stürghk Gewurztraminer Ölberg lieblich Kellerbraut 2006: A very classy take on the GWZ but a tad weak. Short finish mars an otherwise good start.
32. Erwin Sabathi Morillon Jägerberg Trockenbeerenauslese 2006: Tad sour, rich length, very doable, even with a lesser sweet wine.
33. Luise und Hannes Jöbstl Blauer Wildbacher Schilcher Trockenbeerenauslese 2006: Wow! Stop amazing me, now!!! Port-like yet not so. Elegant and light, classic aromas, very alluring.
34. AT 08: good but lacks a hint point acidity.
35. Fuchs 08: leans towards lemoniness
36. Meinhardt Hube 08: good aromas, sourish palate 4. Neumister 07: stands out for fruity balance. *
37. Lackner Tinnacher 07: A good wine; has it all. Likeable but a bit feeble.
38. Jaunegg muri 07: Aromatic, lemon grass! That’s a first. Nice. *
39. Stefan Potzinger Joseph SB Sulz 07: A bit high on detectable RS 5.5g/l, else a fairly yummy hard-to-spit wine.
40. Walter Skoff Obegg 2007: Très classic and high strung acrid acid…still fruity.
41. Domaine Muller Private Reserve 07: Too flat. In flavour and in texture.
42. Hannes Harkamp Flamberg Kogelberg: Good pour; easy sip yet has meat.
43. Erwin Sabathi limited II ’07: Tries to do a lot but accomplishes little, or at least something else which is different from the seemingly intended; deviates from what may have been the plan at first. Still mineral and fruity though but with some tannins.
44. Pongratz Hocherberg ’07: Nice aromatics; flirtatious but not frisky. Shows good upbringing. End is a bit sweet even at 1.9g/l RS and hence confusing.
45. Ploder ’06: Fruit, oak, flat attack. Like a plane without wings.
46. Sattlerhof Kranachberg 05: Confident winemaking with shiny brass buttons; very appealing and doesn’t try too hard.
47. Wohlmuth magnum 05: called Elite with a label that was made by a 5 year old on drugs, Mouton has no competition. Good fruit and mineral though. Terse, predictable yet good 16. Polz 2003: tad tired and oxidised.
48. Tement Zieregg 03: Strong oak still, give it time, or give me strength.
Traminer Tasting noon: south west Styria
49. Domittner Xero 08: Nicely crisp, floral and fresh like morning dew.
50. Tshermonegg trio 08: So much sugar 9g/l and still manages to be a tad bitter. Hmmm. Crisp and clean otherwise.
51. Domittner Hochwarth 08: Nice and tingly, prickly patterly, like cold rain drops on my tongue: melon & peach flavoured minty raindrops.*
52. Palz Friedlweingarten 08: Crackles like a flame, bursts like a bubble, of fruit and splendour. Bit predictable though.
53. Frühwirth Hochwarth 08: Closed for now on the nose, palate is well setting up shop. Sugar even at 16g/l is balanced, with a mineral finish. Still has bitter-fruit and floral character. Nnnice.
54. Gschaar Rosenberg 08: Love the aromas, absolutely love all the gentle lychee and rose that jumps out at me. I’d have trouble not calling this a G-Traminer. Acidity is softer (perhaps a point too soft) and the sugar lingers gently; not daunting but detectable.
55. Frauwallner Hochrosenberg 07: Good nose, pleasant & soft, some fruit and then some bitter fruit, controlled sugar even at 11g/l. Well played.
Post lunch tasting:
56. Giessauf Nell Gelber Traminer ’08: Turkish delight, lavender, toffees, and sherbet, this then is the other G-traminer, so to say. Prickly like a bush, matches the 11g/l RS well.
57. Winkler-Hermaden Roter Traminer ’07: Smells medicinal, tastes worse. Pungent, medicine, gone bad, vile mouth. Too strong and confusing. Oak they say, crap, if i may.
58. Tement G-traminer Wielitsch Erste STK-Lage ’07: Not exactly an easy sipper, smells fine but takes a heavy toll on the palate. Bitterness persists, alcohol is high, flavour concentration is low.
59. Gross G-traminer Ratscher Nussberg Grosse STK-Lage ’07: Fruity off-dry style with new oak spice balance, powerful for sure. Oak lingers. 14.6 g/l RS manages to walk but not well. Heavy and tough to marry. 20-30 years as ageing potential.
60. Potzinger kaltenegg Gelber Traminer 2007: Now why would anyone call a vienyard ‘cold egg’ is perhaps beyond humanity but what the wine says is very appealing. Oak, 15g/l RS, fruit, floral OD, minerality, all the makings of a Traminer. A bit clumsy but somehow manages to keep it together till the end. On the whole, well good.
61. Neumeister SE Styria Roter Traminer ’07: big cask with 8 months of lees maturation, rounded off with 17.6g/l RS. Acidity appears low, closed on the nose, elegant palate, definitely discreet. Totally likeable.
62. Sparkling method traditional Weissburgunder Winkler-Hermaden Kapfenstein 2006: Good but a bit aggressive bubble. Nothing like shampoo.
63. Muster.Gamlitz Gelebr Muskateller “Klassik” 2008: Good fruit and flower power, lovely tasty sour and simple.
64. Platzer Welschriesling ‘Aunberg’ 2008: Confirms itself as a BnB wine; simple, straight, striking and short. Think easy PG.
65. H. Harkamp SB ‘Steil’ 2007: Nice ripe style, fruit-forward, promising, delivering, enchanting, and other things continuous, like worth drinking!
66. H. Sabathi SB ‘Kranachberg’ 2007: Limited lemons, lovely crackle and lotsa minerals. The palate maybe a tad austere for some but the barriwue usage des help enhance complexity and tropical fruitiness.
67. D. Jaunegg Weissburgunder ‘Schlossberg’ 2007: Very mineral very appealing, very tasty. Nothing like a PB, no cream or nuttiness, but good still. Might seem muted to some.
68. P. Skoff Morillon ‘Kranachberg’ 2007: Super-muted, super-clean Chardonnay-like, clear and unusual. Should open with time.
69. Ploder-Rosenberg Eruption R 2006: ZW-PN. Barring some spicy notes, rather shut, not ewxactly your friendly neighbourhood sip, but still has promise. South-Eastern Styria has some red road to cover.
70. Wachter-Wiesler Blaufränkisch ‘Pfarrweingarten’ 2006: Damned if i can say that name without spitting the person in front wet. Has good strength and stamina, delivers, roses and raspberries, some thorny bushy leafiness…simple yet elegant. Sud-Burgenland fairs fairly well.
71. Winkler-Hermaden Olivin 2006: Named after the semi-precious stone found in the volcanic rock base of the castle. Blauer Zweigelt. Has power and play (my favourite phrase), and you can safely tick all the boxes – fruit, aromas, balance, juicy tannins – to qualify this as a decent red. Trouble is that i still don’t know the aromas to document a Zweigelt.
72. Krutzler blaufränkisch 2006: Light robe, red berries on the nose, palate has good form and feel too. But, once again, am at a loss of distinction of grape varietal, for no fault of the wine, if i may add as clarification. Love the colour of this wine: a nice bright vibrant ruby red.
73. Lackner-Tinnacher Grauburgunder TBA 2002: Nice chocolate coated-orangey crisp super svelte silky smooth sip – a plain Jane PG undergoes a make-over and comes out a Laetitia Casta! Actually, more Monica Belucci – corpulent and charming. Pairs with a red berry dessert.
74. Winkler-Hermaden Traminer TBA 2006: Raisins and figs and prunes. Richness personified. Tingles the teeth! Again, manages to stand up against red berry chocolatey desserts.
Austria: some red wines
75. Frauwallner Zweigelt ’07: light robe but so lacking in fruit and flavour. Short.
76. Walter Skoff Zweigelt barrique ’07: More colour, weight, form and style.
77. Farnleitner Pinot Noir 2006: So so not PN. Lots wrong, tannins are unripe, fruit is missing.
78. Neumeister Cuvée de Merin 2006: CS-Merlot-Zweigelt will find favour for flavour but nothing distinct.
79. Domaine Müller Der CS 2005: Robe, nose and punch. Good delivery. Gets it right. Tannins a tad dry and tight.
80. Thomas Strohmaier Blauer Wildbacher 2006: Has an unusual sombre red robe, aromas are like a Schilcher but just deeper, as if macerated in alcohol. Palate is soft, surprisingly, short too. Tannins and alcohol need some taming.
81. Schiefer Blaufränkisch 2006: Oaky welcome, fruit deficient, simple.
82. Vinum Ferreum Blaufränkisch Saybritz 2006: This wine stands outl does something different on nose and palate. Tight but with texture and tactile tenacity.
83. Wallner Blaufränkisch Namenlos 2006: This ‘nameless’ wonder is quite a little treat. Roses and light red fruit, tad dilute but still reminiscent.
84. Wachter-Wiesler Pfarrweingarten 2006: there’s the name again; bit wild berry bushy aromas with a hint green-ness, likeable over a few sips somehow. Grows, improves.
85. Jalits Blaufränkisch Eisenberg Szapary 2006: A medicinal attack. The antibiotic capsule kind. Palate is more forgiving but tannins overrule.
86. Kopfensteiner Border 2006: BF-Merlot-CS These SudBurgenland wines are quite a curiosity. They mange it well, flavour and fruit with power and elegance. Good and commendable.
87. Weingut Schützenhof Kastellan BF-CS-ME-PN 2004: A bit like polish, too NW oriented. Loses originality hence doesn’t impress. Super-Austrian anyone!!?
That was quite the palate work-out but given the generally high quality of wines from this lovely country, the only risk I run is not knowing when to call it a day!