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.