Had someone said ten years ago that Austrian wine would become trendy and sought after, everybody would have laughed in their face. Austria? Wasn't that the country of the 1985 wine scandal? True, but the story is somewhat more complex than what we were lead to believe. A German (!) wholesaler of wine had laced a couple of million liters of Austrian wine with diethylene glycol, a compound of some types of anti freeze. The press had a field day and declared "Anti freeze in Austrian Wine!" The result of this oversimplified story was of course, that Austrian winegrowers could not export a drop for over fifteen years.

But it is an ill wind that blows no good at all, and the wine legislation in Austria is now one of the toughest in the world. No chance for malpractice, leading to amazingly pure and natural wines.

In Austria some 60.000 hectares of vineyard are planted. The official language is German, but the wines are anything but German. Austrian wines are vinified dry (well, most of them anyway) and in general have more alcohol than their German counterparts.

Winegrowing in Austria is divided into four regions: Niederösterreich, Burgenland, Steiermark and Wien. With the exception of Wien, which is an area of roughly 700 hectares around Vienna, the regions are sub-divided into smaller areas, giving more geographical precision to the wines. Among the well-known areas are for instance Weinviertel, Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal and Neusiedlersee.


Grape varieties

Seventy percent of the vineyards is dedicated to white grapes, with Grüner Veltliner taking up a major part. It is Austria's indigenous grape, and it has been (re)discovered by the world. Crisp, with an almost peppery freshness, it is a wine that will compliment an amazingly wide variety of dishes. Other white grape varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Welschriesling, Riesling and the inevitable Chardonnay, although it plays a very small part in Austria.

Red wines are made from Zweigelt, Blauer Portugieser, Blaufränkisch and, amongst others, Pinot Noir or, as it is called here, Spätburgunder.



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