Although current circumstances are preventing us from physically traveling out of the country, we’re being creative about how we can learn about and experience other cultures all while staying safe at home. Let us picture ourselves in the German-speaking alpine country of Austria, a country with some seriously first-class wines. Rieslings and Grüner Veltliner are names you’ll recognize first, as these fresh, fruity whites are showing up on more and more prestigious wine lists. But, with 35 approved grape varieties there’s much more wine diversity than people realize in this country. Make a hearty meal of schnitzel and get ready to pour a glass of one of the following wines to accompany it.
If these selections have you curious about more Austrian wines then join me for a free virtual tasting on Facebook Live on Tuesday, March 9 at 5pm. No passport required! More information to follow.
Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2019 | $19.99
With access to the largest vineyard holdings in the Wachau wine region on the Danube, the Domäne Wachau co-operative is able to produce outstanding wines even in challenging years. In a forward vintage like 2019, their entry-level Federspiel comes to the table with considerable presence. The signature lushness of Wachau is here detailed with expressive minerals and pear spice, leading to a lengthy and savory finish.
Jurtschitsch Belle Naturelle Grüner Veltliner 2019 | $25.99
Stephanie and Alwin Jurtschitsch first produced the Belle Naturelle as an experiment, fermenting biodynamically grown Grüner Veltliner with wild yeasts on the skins for about two weeks. The result was so remarkable that they decided to continue producing this fabulously textural gem, and we are grateful to them for doing so! Unique, alluringly complex, and rich with layers of gunsmoke tea, jasmine, eucalyptus, green peppercorns, and stone fruit, this is a refreshingly different take on Kamptal that any fan of Austrian wine will find fascinating.
Hirsch Kammern Kamptal Grüner Veltliner 2019 | $28.99
Back to the more traditional style of Kamptaler Grüner, we come to Hirsch’s Kammern, which is a cuvée of biodynamic grapes from the top crus of Kammern, including Lamm, Renner, Grub, and Gaisberg. Again, the 2019 vintage, with cool weather in May, July, and August, allowed for stunning development of aromatics and juicy ripeness without the loss of acid or structure. The wine presents generous amounts of lemony nectarine and apricot, tongue-tingling white pepper, and a supple texture supported by mouth-watering acid. Considering the material that goes into this wine, it’s also an incredible value.
Tegernseerhof Ried Höhereck Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 2017 | $42.99
The local wine association, Vinea Wachau, classifies the wines of the area according to must-weight, with Steinfeder being the earliest harvested, and so the lightest, and Federspiel coming in at a slightly higher must-weight than a German Kabinett. The designation Smaragd is reserved for wines that are harvested at a must weight comparable to German Spätlese, but fermented fully dry (like an Erste Lage in the German VDP classification system). Tegernseerhof’s Höhereck vineyard is a tiny, half-hectare parcel situated high in the wind-swept hills above Dürnstein, where the steep, rocky terraces impart an almost smokey stony minerality to the wine. Lush, silky, and textured on the palate, it offers concentrated pear and guava essences, perfectly balanced acid, and an under-currant of starchy umami.