A Journey Through Austrian Flavors

Posted: Mar 23, 2020



Replicating the format from a decade of Erste Lagen tastings, Leithaberg and Eisenberg shared their first ever single vineyard tasting at Wien's Österreichische Nationalbibliothek 2 September 2019. Under rainy skies vintners from these two appellations poured for press and trade 40 'rieds' of blaufränkisch from Leithaberg's 2016 and Eisenberg's 2017 vintages, and 11 2017 whites of four different grapes from Leithaberg at the historic Augustinerlesesaal.

Angular with fewer aromatics than many fine red grapes from which to latch upon, and planted very sporadically outside its central European homes of Austria, Germany (where it's referred to as lemberger), and Hungary blaufränkisch is a tricky grape to discern and enjoy. However at the Augustinerlesesaal were found most of the world's finest examples such as Esterházy, Heinrich, Markus Altenburger, Nitthaus, Prieler; those stars at (relatively) bargain prices included Stubits Walter Fasching and Reihburg, Thom Wachter, and St. Zehetbauer. Outside Europe the greatest amount of it may be found in the US, the most planted in New York's Finger Lakes appellation.

Following a day's activities in Wien we ventured downriver to Schloss Grafenegg for the annual ÖTW Erste Lagen Tasting of new vintage wines. Its tavern on opening night hosted a 2009 vintage retrospective, the highlight for me a flight of five Riesling from Kamptal's Heiligenstein vineyard drinking at perfection. The second evening was at the historic "Rotes Haus” with winemakers from the organization's districts of Wien and Carnuntum, the conclusion a 'loess terroir' tour along Wagram's Kellergasse by geologists Dr. Maria Heinrich and Dr. Kenneth Hurst Williams followed by a most convivial dinner at the Panoramaheuriger Ludwig Güntschl featuring a vertical tasting of wines from Weinguter Fritsch, Leth, and Bernhard Ott.

The undoing for many 2019 wines, most particularly Riesling, was the extended heat and drought during much of the growing season. As evidenced elsewhere and in previous vintages, under conditions such as these often the 'best' sites suffer greatest whereas those planted in areas typically more susceptible to excess coolness or poorer drainage here fared better. Highlights of this annual tasting included GVs that showed exceptionally well despite the vintage's difficulties from Bernhard Ott, Schloss Gobelsburg, Jurtschitsch, Ludwig Ehn, Nigl, Weszeli; a 2018 Wiener Gemischter Satz from Edlmoser, 2017 Zweigelts from Oppelmayer and Artner were also well-structured, complex and aromatic.

By David Furer Go-Wine.com



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