10 superb organic Austrian wines

Austria is an interesting country for wine at the moment. Here are notes on 10 organic Austrian wines that I presented at a seminar at Millesime Bio, the world’s largest organic wine fair, in Montpellier this week. I’m a bit biased, clearly, but I think it was a really nice selection.

Johannes Zillinger Numen Grüner Veltliner 2017 Österreich
12.5% alcohol. This is a really interesting take on Grüner Veltliner from the Wienvertel. Old vines, biodynamic farming. It is partial carbonic maceration (25% whole bunch) in amphora, and then it is pressed to used 700 litre acacia barrels for 16 months. Full yellow colour. Lovely detail here: lemons and tangerines with some green apple and white pepper, showing a bit of structure with fine spiciness. Fresh and stony and a bit salty. Very mineral with lovely purity. Profound. 95/100

Jurtschitsch Ried Käferberg 1er Cru Grüner Veltliner 2017 Kamptal
12.5% alcohol. Gneiss, mica and amphibolite soils, with a thin topsoil. Wild yeast ferment in large casks. Complex, spicy and fine with nice precision. Shows rich crystalline citrus fruit with a peppery spiciness. Has concentration and presence with some structure and a fresh, fine finish. Lovely purity and weight. 94/100

Diwald Grüner Veltliner Goldberg 2016 Wagram, Austria
12.5% alcohol. This is rich and quite powerful, but also fresh, with nice mineral notes and lemon, mandarin and melon fruit, with some distinctive white pepper notes, too. Very expressive. 93/100

Nikolaihof Gruner Veltliner Im Weinbirge Smaragd 2016 Wachau
13% alcohol. The Saahs family began implementing biodynamics back in 1971, and were certified in 1998. Complex, powerful and yet refined with bold yellow plum, citrus and melon fruit, with some fine peppery notes and a nice smooth texture. This has precision and complexity with great depth of flavour, and a long, harmonious finish. Stunning effort. 95/100

Hajszan Neuman Wiener Gemischter Satz Ried Weisleiten 2018 Nussberg, Wien, Austria
14% alcohol. Gemischter Satz is a traditional field blend wine from vineyards near the capital, where different white varieties were planted together as a way of hedging bets: some were early ripening, others late. This particular wine is from a priveliged site in the Nussberg and brings together Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Welschriesling. Powerful, lively and quite peppery with fresh, vivid, structured cherry, citrus and pear fruit, with a minty, herby edge. There’s a touch of ash, too, from the methoxypyrazines. Has a bright, long finish. Lots of fruit impact and concentration here. 92/100

Geyerhof Riesling Ried Kirchensteig 1er Cru 2017 Kremstal, Austria
12.5% alcohol. Thin soil over granitic rocks. Aged in stainless steel on lees. This has an explosive palate with amazing ripe citrus fruit and a bit of dried apricot richness. There’s good structure with lovely acidity sitting in nicely with the concentrated fruit. Very fine and expressive. 94/100

Sattlerhof Ried Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Südsteiermark, Austria
13.5% alcohol. Sandy soils with limestone and high manganese content. 450 m altitude. Fresh and linear, with concentrated flavours of pear, citrus and passionfruit. Has a nice acid line, giving focus to the fresh, green-tinged fruit. Very fine and pure. Has a lovely precision to it. 93/100

Johannes Trapl Ried Spitzerberg Blaufrankisch 2016 Carnuntum
45-60 year old vines, with some limestone in the soil. Aged in 500 litre used barrels. 13% alcohol. Meaty, savoury and spicy with fresh, direct raspberry and red cherry fruit. Grippy and focused with nice acid line. Has a firmness and savouriness, but there’s nice fruit too. Chalky, grainy finish. 93/100

Heinrich Ried Engelgraben Blaufrankisch 2015 Leithaberg, Burgenland
13.5% alcohol. Sealed with VinoLok. Green schist soils. 28 month elevage in used 500 litre barrels. Smoky, spicy, reductive nose with bright cherry fruit. The palate is bright and reductive with lovely precise cherry and raspberry fruit. Firm and fresh with nice weight. Fleshy but bright, showing elegance. Give this time: it’s still so reductive and primary, but I think it could age beautifully. 94/100

Straka Ried Prantner 2017 Eisenberg Reserve, Burgenland
First release of the single-vineyard Prantner wine, which is on green schist. Sulfites only added at bottling. Linear, fresh and vital, with good acidity and structure. Firm and grippy with a savoury edge to the cherry and berry fruits. Really focused with some firmness and depth. Primary with a bright future. 94/100

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