The best wine from Austria!
A Taste of Culture, a Special Treat
Small is beautiful – that is what best describes Austrian wine, when put into international perspective. There are no run of the mill wines, but rather a rare speciality. Austrian wine is one of the most interesting phenomena happening in the world right now. The wines are found on every good wine list, are appreciated by wine experts and highly acclaimed by journalists. It is not uncommon to talk of an Austrian wine wonder.
What is it, that makes Austrian wines so special? There are many reasons and the sum of all these factors has paved the path for the sensational quality boom over the past couple of decades. A prime reason is a tradition of winemaking, and grapevines have been cultivated in the same viticultural regions to be found in today's Austria for many thousands of years. Vines are synonymous with the landscape, the culture and daily life. This also applies to the typical Austrian grape varieties, and there are widespread plantings in the regional wine-growing areas. Coupled with ideal geological and climatic elements, the vines enjoy the best conditions essential for making authentic, distinctive wines with character and personality.
The concept behind this success story plays a vital role. The Austrian vintners and producers have all comprehended how important it is to successfully combine traditional viticulture with modern vinification processes. The motto is, quality without compromise and the result was success without exception.
Another significance is the diversity of Austrian wine culture, from lively, light-bodied examples to monumental, opulent whites wines, as well as charming, fruity to full-bodied, red wines with long cellaring potential. Last, but not least, a wide variety of enticing and elegant sweet wines, that are certainly amongst the world's best. What wine critics across the globe appreciate the most, is that Austrian wines are exceptionally appetizing and pair wonderfully with food, making Austrian wine sheer drinking pleasure.
In Austria, there are 36 grape varieties – 22 white and 14 red – officially approved for the production of Qualitätswein (quality wine) or Qualitätswein with a special level of ripeness and/or method of production (Prädikatswein – sweet wine) and Landwein. The proportion of red wines by area planted has doubled over the past two decades and now represents one third of Austria's vineyards, which total 46,500 hectares.
Austria offers excellent sites for growing internationally known varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Muskateller, Traminer, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. But even more important is the precious portfolio of domestic grape varieties, with Grüner Veltliner at the top of the list. This white variety alone accounts for almost one third of Austria’s plantings. In addition to Grüner Veltliner, other white varieties such as Neuburger, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler and Roter Veltliner – as well as the red varieties Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Sankt Laurent and Blauer Wildbacher – are highly respected and, in fact, treasured once again.
Genetically, many grapes have Traminer and Heunisch as parent varieties. Traminer, one of the oldest European varieties, likely descends from wild vines that grew during antiquity. Heunisch is the name for a variety family that may have been brought by the Magyars from Hungary to Austria, where it quickly spread. At least 75 of the varieties known today have Heunisch in their family tree - for example, Chardonnay and Riesling.
Knowledge about viticulture and grape breeding have a long tradition in Austria. In fact, it has long been supported by the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, which celebrated ist 150th birthday in October 2010. It is the oldest wine-growing school in the world. The department for grape breeding is managed by Dr. Ferdinand Regner, an internationally recognized expert. His research in grape variety identification, with the help of DNA analysis, has earned outstanding recognition worldwide.