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Austrian red wines   

Austria has been establishing an international reputation for its white wines in recent years, but domestically red wines are also popular. Are they any good? Yes, is the answer. I tried through 16 of them recently and came away nicely surprised. I didn’t discover many world beaters, but the quality overall was pretty high. I suspect, though, that because of the relatively strong domestic demand, which keeps the prices up, most of these wines would fare badly on international markets because of the strength of competition at these price points.

There are four key Austrian red varieties, although others are grown, including some ‘international’ grapes.

(1) Zwiegelt
The most abundant red grape; makes good wines ranging from simple cherry fruit gluggers to more substantial reds destined for ageing.

(2) Blaufränkisch
Common in Burgenland this makes spicy, sturdy, berry fruited reds which can have some tannic structure. Probably Austria’s best red grape

(3) Blauer Portugieser
This red grape makes soft, approachable, juicy wines mainly for early consumption. The most widely planted red grape but not for top quality wines.

(4) St Laurent
Makes soft, slight herby, expressive reds; it’s a bit like Pinot Noir.

The wines

Strohmeier Blauer Wildbacher Neuberg 2002 Weststeiermark
Dry dusty, spicy nose of red berry fruits. Savoury palate shows appealing ripe berry fruit with a sweet edge. Ripe and full. Interesting. Very good+ 88/100

Domäne Müller ‘Out of Red’ Blauer Wildbacher in Rot 2000 Weststeiermark
Assertive red berry fruit nose. The palate shows ripe spicy fruit with chewy, spicy tannins: quite substantial. Ripe and appealing with good structure. Very good+ 89/100

Dinstlgut Loiben Blauer Portugeiser 2003 Wachau
Vivid, fruity nose is very forward and ripe. The palate is soft and accessible with cherryish fruit. A ripe easy drinker. Very good+ 85/100

Fuchs-Weine Blauer Zwiegelt 2003 Südsteiermark
Very forward modern fruity nose is soft and appealing. There’s a sweet liqueur-like edge to the cherryish fruit. The palate is soft and ripe with accessible fruit and a spicy edge. Very good+ 86/100

Lenz Moser Prestige Blauer Zwiegelt 2002 Kremstal and Neusiedlersee
Really nice spicy edge to the vivid raspberry fruit. Nicely structured ripe fruit on the palate with some well judged oak. Very good+ 88/100

Schwarz Zwiegelt Alte Reben 2002 Weinvertel
Blackcurrant and cherry nose is ripe and full. Quite assertive. Woody, structured palate. Nice modern style. Very good+ 86/100

Jurtschitsch-Sonnhof Zweigelt Tanzer Reserve 2002 Kamptal
Deep coloured. Ripe, slightly sweet woody nose. The palate displays caramel-edged berry fruit. Quite woody. Very good+ 86/100

Kurt Angerer Zweigelt Granit 2001 Kamptal
Fresh savoury, spicy, minerally nose. Lovely open palate of rounded berry and blackcurrant fruit. Very fresh and appealing. Very good/excellent 90/100

Winkler-Hermaden Olivin Blauer Zwiegelt 2001 Südsteiermark
Savoury, slightly spicy edge to the nose. Open ripe berry fruit on the palate with some spiciness. Nice stuff. 87/100

Winzerkeller Neckenmarkt Vinis Unitis Blaufränkisch 2003 Mittelburgenland
Ripe, sweet chocolatey black cherry fruit nose. Very ripe accessible fruit on the palate with a black fruit core. Modern styled. Very good+ 88/100

Weninger Höchacker Blaufränkisch 2002 Mittelburgenland
Firm, ripe spicy chocolatey fruit on the nose. The palate is dense, structured and spicy. This is a fairly serious, robust red with lots of character and a dry finish. Very good/excellent 90/100

Kirnbauer Blaufränkisch Goldberg Barrique 2002 Mittelburgenland
Spicy, woody black fruits nose. Chewy black fruit palate with a dry, woody edge. Nice fruit but probably overoaked. Very good+ 86/100

St Martinus Blaufränkisch 2000 Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
Ripe approachable nose of cherry and berry fruit. The palate is chunky and chewy, showing a spicy character and ripe fruit. Quite structured. Very good+88/100

Hafner Weine Hafner Blaufränkisch Barrique 2002 Neusiedlersee
Vivid cherry fruit nose with a hint of lifted acidity and a sweet caramelly edge. The palate is spicy and rich with high acid. A bit disjointed. Very good 84/100

Schloss Halbturn St Laurent 2002 Neusiedlersee
Lovely vivid spicy cherry and berry nose with a chocolatey edge. Vivid fruit on the palate with a spicy edge from the wood. Rounded and elegant, if a tiny bit woody. Very good/excellent 90/100

Höpler Erwein St Laurent 2001 Neusiedlersee
Ripe vivid open nose showing cherry and red berry fruit. Open and attractive palate that’s quite structured and quite spicy. Some elegance. Very good+ 87/100

Stockists: as anyone who has tried to find Austrian red wines before in the UK will know, they aren't that easy to get. But the situation is getting better. Oddbins have one (a Zwiegelt from Weninger) as does M&S (a nice St Laurent from Schloss Gobelsburg). Your best bet is an independent. Noel Young has an interesting Austrian selection, and newcomer Nick Dobson has just added a whole batch of reds to his impressive Austrian range.

Noel Young Wines
56 High Street, Trumpington, Cambridge CB2 2LS
Phone: 01223 844744 Fax: 01223 844736
E-mail: admin@nywines.co.uk
Website: www.nywines.co.uk

Nick Dobson Wines
Phone: +44 (0) 118 9771545
Mobile: +44 (0) 7799 661694
Fax: +44 (0) 870 4602358
E-mail:  nick.dobson@nickdobsonwines.co.uk 
Website:  www.nickdobsonwines.co.uk

see also: the wonderful world of Grüner Veltliner

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