Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Attempt at Being Austrian

As I mentioned in my post on an Austrian Christmas, I attempted to make Gluehwine and Austrian Christmas cookies. The Austrian cookies came out decent, the Gluehwine, not so much.

Given the Gluehwine recipe was so simple I thought it'd be easy.

1 Bottle of quality red win
1 Cup of water
1 Lemon
1 Orange cubed and placed in the pot
1 Cinnamon stick
3 Cloves

Bring all to a boil and serve.

I'm not sure what I did wrong, but something just wasn't right. Neither myself nor my boss found this to be drinkable, let alone enjoyable... it tasted as if it needed some sugar, perhaps, to counteract the lemon juice.

Then on to the cookies, Vanilla Crescents:

1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (115 grams) vanilla sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (170 grams) ground almonds
2 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Add the ground almonds and flour. Beat until soft and smooth.

Roll dough into a large ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F (200 C) and line a standard baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from fridge. Cut dough into 1 cm wide pieces, roll and form crescents.

Bake cookies for about 10 -12 minutes or until light brown on the bottom. Immediately remove to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.

While cookies are still warm, sprinkle vanilla sugar on top. Cool cookies completely on a rack.

The one issue I ran in to was the fact the sugar was labeled "vanilla sugar." What in the world is vanilla sugar? I've heard of table sugar and granulated sugar and confectionery sugar and BROWN sugar... but no vanilla sugar. So I guessed. I picked up a bag or confectionery sugar and hoped for the best.

I must admit that I don't think that's what the recipe was talking about because the cookies resembled that of donuts as they were sizzling in the oven (or perhaps that was the two sticks of butter.) In the end, they did come out pretty well, no complaints from the several people that tried them.

Overall I think this proved one thing: I am not a master chef. However, while I did not get the opportunity to participate in a real Austrian Christmas, it was nice to try the traditional wine and food of the country with which I've become so involved recently.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Austrian Christmas

Working so closely with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, I'm extremely interested in their culture and traditions. Given the season, I contacted a friend of mine at the Austrian Trade Commission and asked about her traditions.

In Austria, Christmas Eve is the biggest day of the holiday. The tree is decorated on this day, not weeks ahead like it tends to be here and the majority of people attend a religious mass in the afternoon.

Once the families return home, the children eagerly await Chirstkind (baby Jesus,) not Santa Claus, who brings the presents to the children. [There has recently been a lot of debate around the Austrian acceptance of Santa Claus as this concept is believed to have been created by Coca-Cola in the 1950's, but that's a story for another day.]

Once the children have been alerted Christkind has come and gone, everyone gathers around a tree adorned with lit red candles and sparkling ornaments. The family usually will then sing a few carols, read from the bible, pray and THEN open their presents. Quite different from the children of the US who wake their parents up at 4am to open their presents (or at least that's how we did it in my house.)

After all of the presents have been opened, the adults and children gather around the table, share some Austrian Sekt and then they feast! Their meals consists of Foie Gras, a light Italian salad of chopped potatoes, carrots, peas and pickles with mayo, ham & garlic bread dipped in horseradish, Gebackener Karpfen (Fried Carp), turkey, goose and/or fresh fish from the river.

For dessert, weinhachtsbackerei which are Austrian Christmas cookies and they drink Gleuhwine which is Austria's version of spiced wine. Both of which I made last night to share with the office today. The cookies came out okay, the Gleuhwine, not so much.

Overall, a traditional Austrian Christmas sounds absolutely delightful. Reading the story, I could not help but smile. Special thanks to miss Stephanie Artner for sharing this with me :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Win a 7 day, 6 night trip to Austria's Wine & Food Country!

The Austrian Travel Office is hosting a contest from now until January 15th for a 7 day, 6 night trip to Austria focusing on Wine & Food; Art, Architecture & Design; Nature, Outdoors & the Alps; or Classical Music & History - you can choose your adventure!

To enter, just log on to Facebook and become a fan of the Austria. Official Travel Info page. From there, click the contest link on the Facebook page, fill out a short questionnaire and you're on your way!

The trip includes round trip airfare for two from JFK to Austria and hotel accommodations for 7 days, 6 nights.

For additional entries, fans simply have to Tweet about Austria using the hashtag: #itsgottobeaustria.

The winner will be selected via a random drawing in the middle of February. The winner will be notified by February 17th through Facebook messaging.

For more information on Austrian travel, visit their official website.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nine Cheers for Austrian Dessert Wines!

Recently, Austria was awarded 9 of the ten top spots in the International Sweet Wine Competition, Concorso Internazional di vin Passiti organized by the Academia Della Muffa Nobile a.k.a. the Italian "Botrytis Academy" all of whose board members are part of the Italian Sommelier Society.

Although the Austrian wine were part of the 585 pool of contestants from every wine-making region of the world, their superior quality shown through.

Five different wine makers were honored in this competition: Erwin Tinhof, Franz Heiss (Winemonger), Weingut Elfenhof (Schlossadler), Hans & Christine Nittnaus (Wine Bauer) and Martin Pasler (Winemonger).

It's no wonder the Austrians did so well in the competition - after all, they've been making wine for thousands of years. Although the US market is still just beginning to become familiar with Austrian wines, there is no doubt that these dessert wines are of high quality.

Truth be told, I love a good, sticky dessert wine from just about anywhere, but the Austrians seem to have a knack for it unlike anyone else. These wines aren't overly sweet. Instead, they are perfectly balanced and delightful.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tasting Away with Emerald Wines

Friday afternoons are Austrian Wine tasting days around these parts and the past two weeks have been quite a treat!
(sorry for the delayed posting, it's been quite busy around here lately!)

First, the Szigeti Gruner Veltliner. Although we had the chance to taste this at the Spit & Twit event on Nov. 8th at City Winery, we felt it deserved a second tasting where we were able to devote our full attention to the wine. Pale lemon in color with fine bubbles the yeasty bouquet of the wine also had subtle hints of apple. On the palate, the light fizz enhanced the interesting touch of golden honey and sweet golden apple not necessarily expected from a Gruner Veltliner. This wine is made in the traditional method but totes a much more modest price. At $17-$24 retail, this is quite a value!

Later in the evening, I paired the Szigeti with baked lemon-cod, a light salad, ovened red potato wedges, some good company and Christmas decorating and it was truly delightful!

That same day, we also tasted the Fred Loimer Riesling Langenlois Terrassen, 2008. Pale lemon color with a bouquet of green apple and stone fruits. Hints of melon and lemon also come through on the nose. On the palate, this wine shows incredible acidity with notes of apricot and green apple enhanced by lemon citrus. Quite delicious! The remaining contents of this wine were enjoyed by my car floor, unfortunately, so I wasn't able to pair it with anything!

Both these wines are imported by Emerald Wines, a division of Winebow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Second Glass - Austrian Wine Reviews

You've probably seen a lot of recommendations to pair Austrian wines with Thanksgiving feasts, but according to The Second Glass of Boston, MA, these wines are also good for everything from impressive gifts to panty removers (yes, you read that right.)

So who made the cut? First, the 2007 Berger Grüner Veltliner ($13), imported by Micahel Skurnik Wines. From Niederösterrich (lower,) Austria, Berger is recommended as a beach and party wine, as well as good company to fish. What makes this wine unique is the enclosure method - instead of a traditional cork, the Berger is sealed with what looks like a beer cap.

Definitely made for drinking young, the description reads, "Since this super sipper comes in a 1-liter bottles, it's even less expensive than it looks. Light, crisp and refreshing this might as be Austria's version of lemonade. It rocks flavors of grapefruit and wet stone with a strong, but no overpowering acidity. Grüner goes down easy on hot summer night, you'll be screaming its fun-to-say name on your walk home. Drink liberally with tomato salads, corn on the cob and seafood dishes."

Also on the list is the 2008 Weingut Huber Hugo Grüner Veltliner, also from lower Austria and imported by Boutique Wine Collection ($12.) This wine is recommended as a panty remover and party wine and is also suggested for Asian food pairings such as sushi. The Hugo Grüner has a screw cap enclosure and is described as, "A simple, but addictive wine, the "Huber Hugo" is soft, luscious and refreshing just like the hot little spring fling or holiday hook-up you'll be drinking this with."

Moving on to the 2008 Punky Genau Sparkling Grüner Veltliner imported by Haus Alpenz ($20.) This sparkling wine is labeled as a beach wine, a new years wine and a gift wine -- by far the classiest categories yet. "What's more fun than Grüner Veltliner? Sparkling Grüner Veltliner!..." "...Soft flavors of apple and pear emanate from this light Austrian sparkler. Don't be scared off by the screw cap."

Next on the list is the 2006 Steininger Zweigelt from Kamtal, Austria, the first Zweigelt on the list, and imported by Prescott Wines ($18.) This wine is approved as a beach wine, a barbeque wine and pizza/tomato sauce wine...sign me up! "In 1922, Frits Zweigelt developed a hybrid red supergrape to withstand the harsh climate of Austria. Über dark in color, this is juicy with firm tannins and just a little spicy."

Despite the fact Zweigelt did begin as a hybrid fairly recently, it is now the most widely grown grape in Austria today.

Last, but certainly not least is the 2005 Steininger Grand Crü Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal, Austria, imported by Prescott Wines ($26.) This wine was classified as good company for oysters, the beach and/or good to impress your guests. "The best Grüners are harvested very late in the season. Straw-colored with flavors of peach and pears, this full-bodied wine has a ton of depth and character. Drink with high-end seafood."

If there's one thing to say about late-harvested and dessert wines from Austria it's their incredible balance. Although their honeyed characteristics are sweet on the front of the palate, the acidity counteracts the sugar making these wines a euphoric experience.

Overall, Austria made a great showing, but was it ever a question that they would?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wine Spectator top 100 #45 and #93 belong to Austria

Wine Spectators Top 100 List of 2009 was officially released, in its entirety, today.

Among the top wines were Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken Kamptal Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang 2007 at #93 and at #45 Allram Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken Kamptal Strassertaler 2007.

Both these wines are excellent examples of the quality of wines Austria producers year after year. Although Grüner Veltliner is only now becomming popular in the US, it has taken the market by storm.

Grüner Veltliner is typically characterized as having a racy acidity to it with characteristic aromas and palate stimulation of white pepper and citrus fruit. What really attracts most to Grüner Veltliner is it's uncanny ability to pair with food. Though other grapes may try, Grüner Veltliner is by far one of the most food friendly wines out there, pairing well with seemingly impossible foods such as artichokes and asparagus.

The Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken Kamptal Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang 2007 belongs to Weingut Bründlmayer of the Kamptal which, recently, has received an overwhelming about of rewards including Wine & Spirits 'Import Winery of the Year' for 2009. This wine differentiates itself from an average Grüner Veltliner with the inclusion of slight floral and yeast aromas in addition to the typical peppery spice and citrus. This wine is imported by Michael Skurnik Wines and is part of the Terry Theise portfolio.

The Allram Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken Kamptal Strassertaler 2007 comes from the Weingut Allram, also of the Kamptal. This wine is full of pepper, citrus, snap pea and grapefruit and is an excellent example of textbook Grüner Veltliner. This wine is distributed widely through K & L Wine Merchants, Viaswine and Ibesc Wine Group.

Gaining two of the 100 spots on the list is proof that this growing wine region has made it's place here in the US... truly, we are the lucky ones.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gemischter Satz Glasses

We've all heard of Chardonnay glasses and Merlot glasses, Burgundy glasses and glasses for Rose, but here's a new one: Gemischter Satz glasses. These aren't made by the esteemed Riedel company, instead these are produced by POLKA, self described as a, "young and successful design company from Austria."

Roughly translated, Gemischter Satz means "mixed matter" which describes the many grapes that are blended together to create these wines. These glasses were designed for elegant, every day drinking experiences.

Each glass is made of mouth-blown, Lebmyer crystal and has a genuine story behind it. Retailing for $109, this may be something you want to add to your Christmas list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sipping Pretty with Vin Divino

Friday was a good afternoon. Just as we were finishing up our tasting of Laurenz V. Grüner Veltliner, the FedEx Delivery Person brought me another box of goodies. This one was from Vin Divino, Ltd. and consisted of: Domaine Wachau Federspiel 'Terrasen' Grüner Veltliner 2008, Domaine Wachau Federspiel 'Terrasen' Riesling 2007, Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel 'Spitzer Steinterassen' Riesling 2008, Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel 'Rotes Tor' Grüner Veltliner 2007 and Kracher Burgenland Cuvee BA 2007. (To review the Wachau Classification System, click here)

I gathered up my coworkers and headed to the conference room.

First the Domaine Wachau Federspiel 'Terrasen' Grüner Veltliner 2008 which showed distinct Grüner characteristics of tart green apple, citrus and white pepper. The Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel 'Rotes Tor' Grüner Veltliner 2007 was similar, but also has an accentuated flavor of under ripe pineapples and was much crisper on the nose.

Onto the Rieslings, the Domaine Wachau Federspiel 'Terrasen' Riesling 2007 showed a nose of unripe stone fruits with lemon undertones, followed by citrus and tart peaches on the palate. Contrastingly, the Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel 'Spitzer Steinterassen' Riesling 2008 was much fuller in body and was filled with ripe flavors of peach and nectarine. Though completely different, I found both flavor profiles to be quite enjoyable.

Then we got to the afternoon's real prize (it was so good that after a couple sips, we decided to close the office early.) The Kracher Burgenland Cuvee BA 2007 was full of honeyed, ripe stone fruits, but with a balanced acidity that led to a delightful, lingering finish. Austrian sweet and dessert wines are some of the best I've come across. Quite often, sweet wines can be overpowering in their sugar content and sickeningly sweet after only a very small portion. However, I have found that these Austrian gems are sweet up front but then lead into an intensely pleasurable experience.

Before October 1st, I had very little experience with Austrian wines other than the signature Grüner Veltliner, and even then, hadn't had the opportunity to experience its full range of potential. However, in the past month and a half I've tasted so many delightful wines that I'm sorry I didn't discover this country sooner. In short, this has been a fantastic month and half and I can't wait to see what else comes along.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Love Affair with Grüner Veltliner continues with Laurenz V Singing and Charming

GrünerVeltliner is synonymous with the Austrian Wine market. Just as Argentina has adopted Malbec and for Rioja: Tempranillo, Austria is famous for this incredibly versatile, crisp grape that is currently at the top of my list.

As a sushi and asparagus lover, I am incredibly pleased to see Grüner Veltliner as the wine of choice for these foods. What's even better? Despite the cooler weather GrünerVeltliner isn't out of style. The crisp acidity and light body of the wine enhances the natural flavors in Thanksgiving turkey and vegetable sides.

I had the opportunity to taste two Grüner Veltliner from the Laurenz V winery produced by Lenz Moser III on Friday afternoon: Singing 2008 and Charming 2006 (Folio Fine Wine Partners)on Friday afternoon, which turn out to be a perfect start to the weekend and a perfect pick-me-up for such a rainy and unpleasant day. Laurenz V winery focuses solely on white wines and is backed by six generations of wine makers.

Despite being the same grape, these wines showed significant variation in flavor profile and each have a story all their own.

Singing is a collaboration between Laurenz V. and his daughter, now 6th generation wine maker, Sophie. The wine was packaged to appeal to a younger generation - and that is does. The fun white and orange label alludes to a young, vibrant wine that fills the bottle. The wine is light in body and is full of young citrus fruits, pineapple and spicy white pepper.

On the other hand, the older and more sophisticated Charming, from the Kamptal region expresses defined wine personality and is packaged to appeal to women. The wines aroma is definitively light and airy, but the palate shows a rich, pleasurable quality that has incredible length. Defined, ripe pineapple and green apple fruits add to this wines "charm" as Laurenz V.'s signature wine.

Appropriately named, Singing and Charming, Laurenz V. believes wine is made for enjoyment and stands behind their motto, "Hunting for White Wine Lovers."

Luckily I have two bottles of each, so I can't wait to indulge again!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Spit and Twit at City Winery - Highlighting Austrian Wines

Sunday's Spit & Twit held at the City Winery, hosted by Wine Twits, was a great success- great wines, great people, great atmosphere- what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

In case you haven't heard Spit & Twit was based upon a unique platform. A special portion of the Twitterverse was set aside for attendees to tweet their thoughts on the given wines tasted that day. Monitors were set up throughout the venue to show the posts and comments participants were tweeting in real time.

Overall the crowd was full of budding wine enthusiasts, most attendees had little to no wine experience at all. A few industry insiders filtrated the crowd, but the majority of the audience was simply there to learn something about wine and have a great time - it's amazing how social media can bring every thing together!

Austrian Wines were well represented by Darcy and Huber Selections and Emerald Wines offering a variety of wines from a variety of regions in Austria: Mittelburgland, Vienna, Neusiedlersee and Kamptal.

Darcy & Huber featured their infamous Viennese Gemischter Satz from Weingut Christ and Rotes Haus as well as Christ 'Der Vollmondwein' Weissbrungunder (Pinot Blanc), Rotes Haus 'Nussberg' Traminer, Weinbau Jutta Ambrositsch 'Reisenberg' Gruner Veltliner and two other wines not listed in the program from Weinbau Jutta Ambrositch 'Rosengartel' Riesling and 'Oberer' Riesling. It's safe to say these wines were a crowd favorite, the table was constantly swarming with people.

On the other side of the venue, Emerald Wines also found themselves inundated with tasters and questions. Emerald Wines poured a Gemischter Satz, theirs from Weingut Wieninger. In it's company was the Szigeti NV Brut (perfect for holiday entertainment!), Fred Loimer 'LOIS' Gruner Veltliner, and finally two reds; the Heinrich Zweigelt and the Neckenmarkt Frank Blaufrankisch.

Austrian wines are especially popular this month in New York City, as it is Austrian Wine Month until Nov. 22. Besides that, it's no wonder that both the Austrian wine tables were a tremendous hit. These quality wines are the perfect company for holiday entertainment and meals, not to mention the wines themselves are simply spectacular!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Austrian Wine Fact of the Day: The Wachau Classification System

The Wachau classification system is as follows:

1. Steinfeder (maximum of 11.5% abv)
2. Federspiel (11.5% abv-12.5% abv)
3. Smaragd (Min 12.5% abv, max 9g/litre of residual sugars)

All wines produced in the Wachau fall under one of these categories in addition to the National Austrian Classification System.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Austrian Wine Fact of the Day: Kremstal

Today's Austrian wine fact is Kremstal, particularly noted for Gruner Veltliner and Riesling and full bodied reds. The Kremstal's terroir is "soft loess" (half stone, half soil) of clay and limestone as the region spans a significant portion of the Danube.

The region is located in between Kamptal and the Wachau. Noted producers are: Salomon-Undhof (Michael Skurnik Wines), Weingut Malat (Winemonger), Weingut Martin Nigl (Michael Skurnik Wines), the Weingut Stadt Krems (Emerald Wines of Winebow) and the biggest producer, Weinkellier Lenz Moser (Folio Fine Wine Partners)

You can find many or all of these great wines at local shops near you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Austrian Wine Fact of the Day - Blaufränkisch

In honor of Austrian Wine Month in NYC (Oct. 25th-Nov. 22nd,) I'm starting a series called "Austrian Wine Fact of the Day." This series will include one varietal, region or wine making style per post in reference to Austrian wine.

Let's start out with something simple: The Varietal Blaufränkisch.

Blaufränkisch is characterized as having notes of blackberry, cherry and cinnamon spice with great acidity and medium tannins.

Blaufränkisch is deep in fruit in youth, but develops more complex aromas and texture with aging; often vinified in small oak barrels.

This grape takes on distinct characteristics from the terroir. For example, in Mittelburgenland DAC, located in the Burgenland region next to Hungary, Blaufränkisch tastes of wild berries. In Eisenberg, located in Südburgenland of the Burgenland region, Blaufränkisch taste of mineral-based, spicy flavoring. Both Mittelburgenland and Südburgenland are known as the “Blaufränkischland,” but this grape can also be found in lower parts of Austria.

Blaufränkisch is the perfect grape for the fall weather. The spicy, fruity characteristics of the grape are great company for roast turkey – just in time for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Austrian Wines Magnum Party

As promised, here's the recap on the Austrian Wines Magnum party.

Friday night the Austrian Trade Commission and Austrian Wine Marketing Board hosted an Austrian Wines Magnum party held at the Hearth Restaurant in the East Village in New York City at 11pm. Friends of Austrian Wine and the top Sommeliers in Manhattan gathered to taste and impressive array of wines that consisted of 41+ magnums and super magnums of a variety of Austrian wine
s supplied by key importers: Winemonger, Frederick Wildman, Select Wines, Vin Divino, Michael Skurnik, Domaine Select, Folio Fine Wine, Winebow, Darcy & Huber Selections, Circo Vino, Blue Danube Wine and Weygandt-Metzler Wine Importing.

The room was quite crowded when we arrived. The wines were lined up on tables in ice buckets that encompassed the room; each was tagged with its respective number, origin, grape variety, name/style, vineyard and vintage. The oldest wine we could find was from 1990, a Riesling from the Wachau, Vinothek imported by Michael Skurnik wines. Quite developed, the wine was rich with honey, but with
a great balance of acidity.

Next we found our way to number 28: a Gemischter Satz from the Wien region, Bisamberg Alte Reben, , 2002, imported by Darcy & Huber Selections. Darcy & Huber import a great deal of impressive Germischter Satz and this was no exception.

The reds were brought out later and placed on a single table. Blaufrankisch was the dominant variety, but we managed to try a Neusiedlersee Reserve Sankt Laurent, 2006 imported by Blue Danube that was to our liking as well.

Only two desert wines were served and they were placed toward the back of the room, theoretically to be sipped on last. However, these went faster than any other wine. A 2005 Edellage Traminer from the Wien region, imported by Darcy and Huber and 2004 Grade Cuvee TBA Chardonnay/Welschriesling imported by Vin Divino wowed the group as both portrayed deep honeyed fruit, but accompanied by enough acid to bit through the sweetness and make it feasible to return to tasting dry white wine.

Throughout the night, various Austrian dishes were served. An array of cheeses and smoked sausage, freshly cooked salmon with a variety of toppings, a whole fried pig, carved on the center table and various condiments were enjoyed by all. A few desserts and Austrian cookies were also located on the dessert table.

By 2am, most of the wine was gone and host, Willi Klinger brought up reserves from the Hearth Restaurant Wine Cellar to be enjoyed by the crowd and the party continued on. By 4:30am, we called it a night, but there was still a significant crowd socializing and talking about the impressive collection the Austrians had shown that night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Austrian Wine Month Kicks Off

In case you haven't heard, Austrian Wine Month in NYC is from October 25th until November 22nd. However, for Austrians and Sommeliers of New York alike, the month kicked off late last week.

Willi Klinger, head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, was in town and with that brought a few key tastings and a fabulous Austrian Wines Magnum party.

I had the pleasure of attending a tasting led by Willi Klinger held on Thursday afternoon at the Blaue Gans restaurant in Tribeca, NYC. The tasting began as a casual cocktail hour (at the hour of 11am) with a typical rose SEKT, which we sipped on while hors d'oeuvres were passed amongst the crowd. The tasting was primarily for the press and as a result, attracted some great writers that it was an honor to talk with.

Once we sat down Willi Klinger led us through an informative PowerPoint presentation that explained the different regions of Austria, the grapes, specifically what the Austrian Wine Marketing Board is involved in and many other key factors about the Austrian Wine Industry.

The tasting consisted of 21 wines, chosen not because of their producer or importer, but because of their characteristically accurate nature per their region. I found all to be a great pleasure, using Willi Klinger's comments to guide me through the new sensations my palate was finding.

First the whites. I learned that Gemischter Satz is a blend of several grapes, most prominent in Vienna, I tasted through a range of Gruner Veltliners, Pinot Blanc, Rotgipfler, Sauvignon Blanc and, of course, Riesling. The Rieslings really took my breath away, specifically an example from the Kremstal, DAC region and one from the Wachau.

Then the reds. We tasted through six; two Blaufrankisch, one Pinot Noir, One Saint Lauren and two Red Cuvee blends. I found each to be an interesting expression of Austrian wines and am hard pressed to pick a favorite.

At this point we took a break for the luncheon portion. Traditional Austrian food was served that accompanied by the red wine left in our glasses. Once the dessert arrived, the dessert wines were also served. All three, a Traminer and two White Cuvee, were delicious and really stood up to the berries berry sorbet I had opted for. Not too sweet, perfectly balanced and a perfect end to a great event.

The next event was held the next evening at Hearlth Restaurant in the East Village: Austrian Wine Magnum Party... but they'll be more on that later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turkish Wines

Turkish wines...? Did anyone really know such a thing existed? Yes, the country of Turkey is in close proximity to Greece, but Turkey just isn't a country you'd expect wine to come from. Neither the Professional Wine Atlas by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson nor the WSET Advanced course study book have any information about the varietals, the terroir, the history... NOTHING.

I had the opportunity to attend the US Drinks Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 14th (more about that later) where I met several international wine, spirits and beer producers looking to enter the US market. As you may of guessed, one of the wine producers there was from Turkey, representing Vinkara wines and guess what, they brought samples! One white wine, a 2008 Vinkara Doruk Narince and one red, a 2008 Vinkara Doruk Kalecik Karasi (try saying those ten times fast!)

Unfortunately the white was less than chilled by the time it made it into my tasting glass yesterday afternoon, but the nose was still full of tropical fruits, ripe bananas and citrus. The color was a clean, very pale lemon. On the palate I tasted a great deal if minerality with tropical fruits and citrus, the acid was incredibly high leaving my mouth salivating for many minutes after I'd swallowed the delicious elixir.

Though lighter in body, the flavour profile of the Narince grape seems to mirror that of a young, unoaked chardonnay.

Update: 12:10pm - I have now tasted the white (chilled) and the red. Both outstanding, pleasantly surprised by what I found. The warm climate of Turkey has made both of these wines incredibly light in body but has not sacrificed the flavor. I can imagine sipping these while eating hummus on a hot dessert day. The red is full of cherries in the front of the mouth with incredible acid, light tannin. Very pale garnet coloring despite it's young age, similar to that of a Pinot Noir.
The Narince is 100% better when chilled. Tropical, sweet fruits meet the nose and on the palate continue with a distinct taste of Guava enhancing the image of laying in the sipping on this delicate wine.

**photos courtesy of

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Austrian Food & Wine Pairings

Austrian wines have been getting quite a lot of attention lately in the way of food pairings. A large push has been set forward by the AWMB for Asian inspired cuisine. Publications like the Chicago Tribune have highlighted this fact stating, "The crisp stylings of Austrian wines do make them useful for the growing roster of fiery Asian foods we enjoy."

But Asian fusion is not the only pairing suggestion.

The New Jersey Monthly posted an article on Oct. 7th highlighting the fact they paired Fried Green Tomatoes with Gruner Veltliner. Who would have thought?

The Herald Tribune out of Sarasota, FL suggested pairing Gruner Veltliner with Shrimp Mousse with Dill Pistachio Pesto for your holiday parties.

The Washington Post suggested pairing Anton Bauer 2008 with a dinner of Pork and Plums over spaetzle.

Food and Wine posted an article about pairing Gruner Veltliner with Zucchini Linguine with Herbs. Sounds delicious!

Purple Liquid: a wine and food diary blog recommended pairing Gruner Veltliner with Redwood Hill Goat Cheese.

Last month Dr. Vino requested suggestions for a wine to pair with cucumber soup. Austrian wines were in high suggestion.

Gruner Veltliner has also been widely suggested for pairings with salads and other vegetables that can be overpowered by some other white grapes. (That's great news for me! I love salad!)

Now that I am have decided a delicious pairing of sushi and Gruner will be on tonight's dinner menu, I leave you to go experiment with your own foods!

For even more pairing suggestions check out the AWMB website.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Hello all. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Constance Chamberlain and I have just joined The Brand Action Team here in Avon, CT. You may have seen my own blog: or noticed me on Twitter as VinoCC in the past. I have a deep passion for wine and am excited to begin my work as the new Social Media Marketing Manager for the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.

I'm still familiarizing myself with the grapes, but I've had Gruner in my past on more than one occasion, and let me tell you -- I LOVE it.

We've also got some new projects in the works so stay tuned to find out all the exciting things that are coming up :).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gerhard Kracher Named “Sweet Winemaker of the Year”


To start with here is a piece of good news....

A true triumph for Gerhard Kracher at this year´s International Wine Challenge in London: the 28-year-old winemaker from Illmitz, Austria, captured the wine world´s most coveted sweet wine trophy when he was named “Sweet Winemaker of the Year”.

The award. presented to Kracher at the International Wine Challenge Awards Dinner at London´s Grosvenor Hotel on Wednesday, 2 September, reflects the young winemaker´s continuation on the successful path begun by his father, the late sweet wine legend, Alois Kracher, who himself was awarded the “Sweet Winemaker of the Year” title seven times, with the last given posthumously in 2008.

“This truly is a wonderful achievement, and not just for me, but for the entire team,” said the jubilant Gerhard Kracher. “It is great that all of our hard work has been recognized with such an honour.”

The International Wine Challenge in London is one of the most important annual events of the international wine and gourmet world. Its high point is the International Wine Challenge Awards Dinner, at which all of the competition winners are announced. Competition at the IWC is tough: every year, nearly 1000 wineries submit more than 9500 wines for judging – making it even more significant that Gerhard Kracher received not only the most important of the IWC awards, but that all of the Kracher wines entered into the competition were awarded with a medal.