Wine: Austria's cool Alpine whites
Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30
Austria (Österrich) is appealing to consumers' growing taste for a lighter style of dry wine; especially lovers of crisp, dry whites with no oak-barrel influence, just glacial purity in the style of Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and Pinot Grigio.
Most vineyards are clustered around Vienna in the relatively less mountainous eastern part of the country, away from the Alpine ski slopes to the west. This cooling Alpine influence determines that the majority of wine produced in Austria is white - two-thirds in fact.
While Austria has 35 different grape varieties, its native, Grüner Veltliner, accounts for a half of all white wine produced. In style, it is like a cross between a crisper version of Pinot Grigio and a less grassy Sauvignon Blanc. Typically, it is dry with green apple fruit, spicy white pepper, moderate alcohol of around 12.5pc and its trademark very crisp acidity.
Some Riesling is planted and is mostly dry and in a fuller-bodied style than in its cooler northern neighbour, Germany.
Austrian wines are very well matched with cuisine ranging from local Austrian veal and pork dishes, cheese fondue and both Chinese and Asian exotica.
1) Grüner Veltliner Löss 2013, Jurtschitsch, Kamptal region 12.5pc
Delicious and intense palate of baked lemons in a satiny texture, interwoven with the food-friendly acidity. Serve with Oriental salt and pepper squid.
€19.95 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda; quintessentialwines.ie ; O'Leary's, Cootehill; and Brown's Vineyard, Portlaoise. In Dublin: Green Man Wines, Terenure; Michael's, Mount Merrion; and Hole in the Wall, Blackhorse Avenue.
2) Grüner Veltliner 2013, Steininger, Kamptal region 12.5pc
Fragrant with floral scents. Pithy citrus flavours with a mineral note for added interest. Partner with paupiettes of sole, stuffed with mushrooms.
€15.80 at winesdirect.ie and Wines Direct Shop, Mullingar.
3) Riesling Federspiel 2014, Domäne Wachau, Wachau region 12pc
Lime and blossom perfume. Classically dry but with an almost honeyed ripeness in a lemon curd finish. Match with a chilli-hot chicken jalfrezi or Madras.
€19.99 in Dublin at Donnybrook Fair and Red Island, Skerries.
4) Grüner Veltliner 2013, Federspiel Point, Johann Donabaum, Wachau region 12.5pc
Grass and lychee aromas. Oily texture with a spicy and citrus peel palate. Try with chicken Thai red curry.
€20.99 at Wines on the Green, Dawson Street, and McCabe's, Blackrock.
5) Grüner Veltliner 2013, Loimer from Langenlois, Kamptal region 12.5pc
Made from organically grown grapes. Silky smooth and studded with highlights of lemon peel. Enjoy with pork tenderloin and a mustard sauce.
€22.99 online at wineonline.ie and World Wide Wines, Waterford. In Dublin: 64 Wine, Glasthule; Michael's, Mount Merrion; Fresh, Smithfield; and Grand Canal Square.