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 :).