Riesling and Grüner Veltliner from Austria – Sunshine in a Glass

As the weather starts to warm up many wine lovers in need of refreshment reach for a chilled bottle of crisp white wine.  At a recent Austrian wine show in Toronto I sampled several tasty whites featuring Grüner Veltliner and Riesling that would be perfect for revitalizing our wilted selves on hot, sticky summer day.  Think of them as cool sunshine in a glass.

Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most planted and most important grape variety, especially in the areas of Lower Austria, Vienna, and Burgenland.  Typical aromas and flavours include lentils, white pepper, celery, citrus, sometimes with a honeyed weight.  For more information on Grüner Veltliner read my article, “Groovy Grüner Veltliner from Austria” on Suite 101.

Although plantings of Riesling only make up about 2.5% of all vines in Austria, it usually gets the top sites.  The best spots are on the terraces of the Wachau with granite, gneiss, or mica-schist soils and a cool climate.  Alcohol levels of Austrian Rieslings are generally higher than German Rieslings – around 13% – and are very age worthy.  Most are vinified dry.

Some of my favourites of the tasting were:

Kurt Angerer: agent: B & W Wines (www.bwwines.com)

“Keis” Grüner Veltliner 2009 Niederosterreich:  This wine displays aromas of mineral, green melon, green apple, pepper and spice.  A fruit-cup of yellow and green fruit with liberal doses of peppery spice show on the palate.  A long length and good structure. ($19.95)

“Spies” Grüner Veltliner 2009 Niederosterreich:  Some large old wooden casks used here.  Displays more mineral aromas and flavours than the Kies along with green apple and citrus.  A crisp, clean, and refreshing wine with good acid and length. ($24.95)

“Donatus” Riesling 2009 Niederosterreich:  Very pretty aromas of green apple, white blossom, mineral, and a touch of petrol.  The palate reveals flavours of zesty lime, green apple and melon with crisp acidity and a beautifully long length. ($29.95)

Rabl: agent: David Thompson Vintage Trade LTD (www.vintagetrade.ca)

“Spiegel” Grüner Veltliner 2009 Kamptal DAC:  Intense aromas of green apple, basil and other herbs, and white pepper.  A rich, smooth texture with mouthwatering flavours of peppery spice and ripe juicy green melon.   A delicious wine with a long, pleasant finish.

“Steinhaus” Riesling 2009 Kamptal DAC:  A beautiful nose revealing tropical fruit, orange blossoms, and spice.  Concentrated flavours of mineral, and crisp green apple on the palate.

Schenkenbichl V.O.  Riesling 2008 Kamptal DAC:  Pronounced aromas reminiscent of orange creamsicle and pineapple with a distinctly floral perfume.  A juicy, lip-smacking wine with flavours of mineral, green apple and tree blossoms on a long, delicious finish.

Wieninger: agent: Santos Fine Wines (www.uvas.ca)

“Rosengartl Alte Reben Gemischter Satz 2008 Wien:  “Gemischter Satz” refers to the fact that this wine is a field blend consisting of  5 varieties including Gruner Veltliner and Riesling.  This wine is only made in the best years and is definitely a special treat.   The softly aromatic nose features mineral, straw, and grapefruit.  A complex explosion of wet stone, mandarine orange, and fresh grass bursts in the mouth ending with a long and elegant finish.

Nikolaihof Wachau: Agent: The Living Vine (www.thelivingvine.com)

Smaragd im Weingebirge Grüner Veltliner 2007:  “Smaragd” wines are made from the ripest grapes on the best sites of the Wachau.  They must have at least 12.5% alcohol and are extremely age worthy.  Nikolaihof is a member of the DEMETER association and is certified Biodynamic.  An abundance of yellow fruit, mineral, and basil aromas on the nose.  A beautifully voluptuous texture revealing flavours of yellow fruit and mineral and an unbelievably long finish.  A truly great wine.

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