Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heading to Austria!

I am a lucky girl this year! I'm heading to Austria tomorrow for the biannual Vie Vienum celebration in Vienna which showcases all of Austria's wine producers' finest wines. I will be joining the industry elite for a grouping of special seminars, tastings, dinners, meet-and-greets, parties and even a football game where the winemakers go head-to-head. I will also be fortunate enough to visit some of the wineries while I am there! I can't wait!

The weather isn't looking too cheery - low 60's and raining... but hopefully things will change. Besides, being in Austria will make me overlook the minor detail of inclement weather...

Having never been to Austria this is especially exciting for me - and having worked so closely with the wines for so many months it'll be great to finally fully understand what I've been talking about all this time!

Anyway, lots to do before I leave! I'll try to check in while I'm over there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Austrian Food Weeks at the Food Emporium

Thursday, May 20th, the Austrian Trade Association hosted a kick off event at the Ramscale South Loft in Manhattan to celebrate the commencement of the 2010 Taste the Nation Austrian Food Weeks at the city's Food Emporium stores. This year's Food Weeks come with much excitement after two successful years.

The kick off event featured four chefs from some of NYC's finest Austrian restaurants including:

Kurt Gutenbrunner from Wallsé

Wolfgang Ban & Frauneder from Seasonal

Andrew Chase and Erwin Schrottner from Café Katja

Andreas Goller from Café Kinski

The dishes featured the Austrian products that will be available at the Food Emporium through the next month. Of course, each was paired with traditional Austrian wines such as Grüner Veltliner, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt.

So what are you waiting for? Get to your local Food Emporium, stock up on some Austrian foods, grab a bottle of Austrian wine and cheers!

Friday, May 14, 2010

National BBQ Month - Celebrate with Austrian Wine!

Celebrate national BBQ month this month with some traditional cuisine and wines from Austria!

Instead of plopping some hot dogs on the grill this weekend, why not try am Austrian bratwurst? Sure you might think Oktoberfest when you think bratwurst, but really this is a delicacy that can be enjoyed all year round!

Ingredients for "Austrian Bratwurst"

1 cup fresh Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground Marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 teaspoon Parsley Flakes
1 teaspoon White Pepper
3 lbs ground Pork, 35% fat
1 drop Lemon Oil
3/4 cup Milk
1 medium Sausage Casing, prepared

Method of cooking "Austrian Bratwurst"

Combine spices and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Mix milk, beaten eggs and oil of lemon together. Thoroughly mix bread crumb mix with the ground pork being careful not to have any"hot spots" This can be done by hand but a heavy duty stand mixer makes it a lot easier. Pour liquid over the meat mix and let sit about 10 minutes. Then mix. Loosely stuff medium sausage casings and tie off in 5 inch lengths. Grill until thoroughly cooked.

But what is a grilling party without a little wine? In my opinion it just isn't the same.

For this venture we opted to try the Anita Hans Nittnaus Pannobile 2006 a blend of 70% Zwigelt and 30% Blaufrankisch from the Burgenland. The deep earthy cherry flavors that come through on the nose were enough to alert us that this was going to be a delightful wine. On the palate the soft tannin and good fruit balance compliments the salty character of the bratwurst and brought out the natural charcoal flavors. Overall a great pairing - just as we expected.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Austria Uncorked - A Recap

Yesterday marked the end of the Austria Uncorked tour that took North American by storm this past week. In the US the tour hit San Francisco on Monday, May 3rd that flew across the country to the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. This is where I caught up with them.

This was the biggest Austrian tasting to ever come to the US featuring importers from across the country, winemakers flown in from Austria and hundreds of wines. The trade portion was help from 12-4pm to allow industry insiders to get a first rate view of the wines and ask as many questions as they could. This was a great event, but the real hustle and bustle didn't start until the consumer portion held from 6-9pm.

The show was sold out! At 5:45pm the 500+ consumers who were lucky enough to purchase tickets before they were sold out last week gathered at the doors of the venue eagerly awaiting the taste of Grüner Veltliner and the culinary stylings of some of New York City's most prestigious restaurants.

Inside winemakers, importers and organizers eagerly awaited with open bottles of Grüner Veltliner, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Riesling, Welshriesling, Traminer Muskateller and many more from bone-dry style to sweet dessert wines.

There were several wines that I am incredibly familiar with and yet there seemed to be even more that I did not know. Four producers really stood out to me:

1. Neumayer (Winemonger) which are simply described as, "exceptional whites from the chalky soil of Traisental."

There were 5 wines to try from his portfolio; 3 Grüner Veltliner, 1 dry Riesling and 1 Weiβburgunder. It must be said that these wines really blew me away. I am an Austrian wine lover in general, but these really stood out amongst the crowd. All very well balanced, incredibly structure, nice minerality backed up by a rich fruity character and bit of traditional white pepper spice. Each I tasted was better than the last. The wines:

Grüner Veltliner Engelberg 2008 - Mineral with rich stone fruits
Grüner Veltliner Reserve Zwirch (single vineyard) 2008 - Mineral with a peppery finish, nice acid.
Grüner Veltliner Der Wein vom Stein 2008 - Quite structured on the palate. Pepper and minerality show through.
Riesling Reserve Rothenbart 2008 - Nice fruit and mineral balance, good acid.
Weiβburgunder Der Wein vom Stein 2008 - Floral and fruity with great minerality.

All remarkable - I definitely recommend these to anyone!

2. Ecker (Skurnik) - what was so remarkable about these wines is their genuine character and their increible price point. At $12-$14/liter, I think this just may be the best wine deal out there!

Grüner Veltliner Klassich 2008: Nice Grüner character. Intense white pepper spice, hint of lemon/lime citrus, good fruit incredible balancing acid.
Zweigelt Klassoch: Good nose of cherries that follows through on the palate, delicate tannins and excellent structure; a combination of fruit and earth.

3. Schlumberger Wein & Sektkellerei GmbH (Duggans Distillers) Austria's oldest sparkling wine cellar! (of course I found the bubbles) Each bottle is made in the traditional method and is aged for a minimum of four years. I've had sparkling wines from Austria before (and believe me I haven't met one I don't like yet!) but these being new, I found them particularly exciting. The last of the bunch really stood out.

Welschriesling White Secco NV - Slightly sweet on the palate, nice fruit and yeast balance, excellent acid and incredible finish of floral and stone fruits. I wanted to swallow this one instead of spit!

4. Juris (Blue Danube) situated in Gols which is located in Burgenland. I stuck with the reds here.

Pinot Noir Selection 2008: Complex red fruits, nice spice character a deeper style of Pinot Noir that I love.
Pinot Noir Reserve 2006: Definitely showed the grape's ability to age from this vineyard and the complexity that comes with it.
St. Laurent Selection 2008: Being a hybrid of sorts from Pinot Noir, the grape puts forth many of the same characteristics, but in a slightly spicier style. Nice tannin sturcture, an explosion of black cherries and red fruits.
St. Lauren Reserve 2008: As with the Pinot Noir, this wine was just like it's predecessor but with a much more complex, deep character that left a melt-in-your-mouth feel.

As it often happens at big tastings, there just wasn't enough time to try everything and I'm certain I missed out on some other gems. Some of my old favorites such as Kracher's dessert wines, Szigeti sparklers and a variety of Gemischter Satz, of course - which I also had the pleasure of retasting.

Some good news came along with this venture yesterday in an afternoon meeting which is going to enable me to try all of these (and more!) at the end of the May.. but more on that later!

Until then, grab a glass of something Austrian and relax... the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Oldie but a Good One: Wine Library TV #181 Grüner Veltliner!

Watch Gary V as he has his first taste of Grüner Veltliner way back when!