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The wines of Graf Hardegg, Weinviertel, Austria

Schlossweingut Graf Hardegg
A-2062 Seefeld-Kadolz, Austria
Tel: (+43) 02943 2203 Fax (+43) 02943 2203 10

Editor's note: see a more recent report on these wines here

Graf Hardegg is one of the producers leading the quality revolution in Austria's Weinviertel region, which is better known for mass producing inexpensive wines from heroically high-yielding vines. There's plenty of innovation here, with the use of alien grapes such as Viognier and Syrah. Unfortunately, the Viognier was poured ice-cold, and so was difficult to assess. Noel Young (www.nywines.co.uk) is the only source of these wines in the UK that I'm aware of, and on his current list he has just the Viognier and Syrah. Approximate prices are given for the others.

Grüner Veltliner Veltlinsky 2000
Bright fruity nose leads to a fresh, spicy palate that's so typical of young Grüner. An impressive, attractive wine for early drinking. Very good (c. £7)

Grüner Veltliner Dreikreuzen 2000
Intense, fresh, youthful wine with a noticeably spicy palate. Modern and clean, this is quite elegant, with good balancing acidity. Very good (c. £8)

Riesling Steinbügel 2000
There's a nice, spicy, honeyed character to the nose. The palate is quite concentrated with a good level of mineral extract and rich lemony fruit. Dry, savoury finish. Very good+ (c. £8)

Chardonnay Weissburgunder 'Tethys' 2000
This is a barrel-fermented blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and it works quite well. There are creamy, toasty notes on the nose along with some honeyed fruit. The full, savoury palate has attractive nutty fruit and firm acidity. Very good+ (c. £9.50)

'V' Viognier 2000
Hardegg has just 1 ha of Viognier, and this wine is classified as table wine because it's not an approved variety in the region. The wine is crisp and fresh with nice floral notes on the nose. It's a savoury, high-acid style without some of the usual richness and fatness associated with this variety. I'll reserve judgement, though, because the wine poured was just a little too cold to assess properly. (A provisional) Very good. (1999 is £19.59, Noel Young)

Pinot Noir 2000
Very light cherry red colour, with a fading rim. The open, leafy, herby nose shows some sweet strawberry and cherry fruit. Rich, ripe soft fruit on the palate with nice balance and herby complexity. Not at all unripe, I'm impressed by the softness and sweetness of fruit on the palate. Real interest here. Very good/excellent (c. £10)

'S' Syrah 1999
Since January 2001 the Syrah grape has made it onto the official 'approved' list, and so this can be labelled as a quality wine. This is aged in barrels, 10% of which are new, and only 2000 bottles were made from the 0.5 ha of Syrah vines. Lovely deep purple/black colour. The rich, spicy nose is very attractive, with notes of cherries, herbs and berry fruit. This spicy fruit carries through onto the palate, where it is joined by firm tannins: it's a structured wine that needs time to develop. Very good/excellent (1999 is £19.49, 1998 is £13.99, both at Noel Young)

Riesling Eiswein 1999
Made from frozen grapes picked between 10 pm and midnight on the 23rd December. Lovely intense, pure nose of lime and spice, with some tropical fruit notes. Huge, massively sweet palate with a marmaladey richness, fat texture and huge acid kick. Remarkable stuff. Pure and lovely. Excellent (c. £18 half)

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