A work in progress: these are rough notes of a selection of Austrian wines tasted at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair 2005
Scoring is out of 10, using the full 1 - 10 range.
Weingut Bründlmayer, Langenlois, Kamptal
Bründlmayer have some 75 hectares of vineyards in the Kamptal, north-west of Vienna, including 10 ha on the famous Zöbinger Heiligenstein.
2004 Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen, 12% (RRP £9.99)
A blend of different vineyards. A round creamy nose – very attractive. Very attractive on the palate, round and even. Very Good Indeed. 8
2004 Grüner Veltliner Loiser Berg, 12.5%
A round creamy nose again. Good rich palate. Lots of white pepper spice on the finish. Very Good Indeed. 8
2004 Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben, 13% (RRP £18.99)
A similar nose again. Much more rounded on the palate. Much creamier and with more depth. Very Satisfying. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2003 Riesling Steinmassel, 13% (RRP £13.99)
A full nose, but rather muddy. Good, ripe structure. Fairly simple. Very Good. 5+
2004 Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein, 12.5%
A better depth of flavour than the Steinmassel. More layers of flavour. More complexity. Cleaner too. Very Good. 7
2004 Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein Alte Reben, 15% (RRP £26.99)
A riper nose. Better balance. Much more depth of flavour and complexity than the Steinmassel. Very good wine, but there are better wines around this price. Very Good Indeed. 8
2003 Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein Alte Reben, 14.5%
A ripe full nose. Enormous palate. This is a huge wine; indeed a bit blowsy and unimpressive.
2002 Pinot Noir Cecile, 13%
A very nice fruit-driven pinot noir nose with soft cherries. Very soft, round and pleasing on the palate. Some interesting mineral notes on the palate. A very pleasant wine. Very Good Indeed. 8+
Willi Opitz, Illmitz, Neusiedlersee
Willi Opitz gave up his job marketing pet food in 1995 to work full time making his exceptional wines. He now owns 17 acres in and around Illmitz and rents a further 7 acres. The wines are exceptional as much, if not more, for their character and individuality as for their quality. Willi is not afraid to experiment, and his experiments with, for example, his cheekily-named Opitz One, a red trockenbeerenauslese vin de paille, have led to changes in Austrian wine legislation to make his results legal. Marketing is one of Willi's strong points, and no occasion is missed to come up with a snappy name, an unusual style, or to make use of an important purchaser to provide a selling point for his wines. A brief meeting with Bill Clinton led to permission to sell Opitz One in America under a “Mr President” label; the barrels destined for British Airways, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason are clearly (and obviously) labelled in the cellar, and there is even a special barrel for one of the wines he supplies to the McLaren Formula One team.
Willi's labels are all based on designs painted using wine, while some wines are not labelled at all, but hand-written in gold pen directly onto the bottle, signed and marked with Willi's thumbprint. You can even buy his CD: not him singing, but rather his wines: each track is the sound of a different grape variety fermenting! Crazy, bizarre, but he's bought a tractor from the proceeds of sales of the CD.
The wines are made in relatively small quantities, and the production methods remain unchanged since 1995: after harvesting (and you can pay Will Opitz to go and help pick his grapes), the grapes are gently pressed in a small basket-press inherited from his grandfather. Dry wines are made, and many are attractive, though tending to simplicity, but the real strength lies in the sweet wines, from ‘mere' spätlese and auslese wines, up through beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese, and the vins de paille (Strohwein), via Eiswein. If you want something as a mad as a pinot noir Eiswein, then Willi is your man.
See also my notes from my visit to Willi in Illmitz in December 2001. For something different, I just tried a handful of his red table wines:
2004 St Laurent
Still in tank. A gorgeous vibrant mauve colour. Lovely soft cherry fruit on the nose. Very soft and fruity on the palate with nice structure and balance. Interesting spice towards the finish, and soft tannins on the finish. Very Good Indeed. 8
2003 Pinot Noir
A good, youngish colour. A great, fruity pinot noir nose with good earthy notes. Quite full on the attack with fairly delicate, pure pinot noir fruit on the palate. Clean, but a bit simple. Very Good. 6+
A vibrant young purple. Clean nose, but rather unfruity. Pointless and boring. OK. 3
Weingut Kirnbauer, Deutschkreutz, Mittelburgenland
The K+K Kirnbauer Estate is run by Walter und Irmgard Kirnbauer and has been making primarily red wines in the Mittelburgenland for generations. They produce around 100,000 bottles a year from around 20 hectares of vineyards, planted with Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Their top wines are “Das Phantom” and “Forever”; blends of Austrian and international grapes.
2003 Blaufränkisch Classic, 13.5%
Aged for twelve months in foudres. A clean, sour cherry nose. Clean fruit. Decent character. But a bit simple. Good. 5
2002 Blaufränkisch Goldberg, 14%
Aged for 18 months in 80% new oak barriques. A smoky, dusty nose, dominated by sawdust. Good fruit and structure on the palate. The oak has worked well with it. Very Good. 7
2003 Welschriesling Eiswein, 11%
Harvested on 9th December 2003, this eiswein was presented as a barrel sample only. A lovely melony nose. Very sweet. Fine, elegant fruit. A bit short on the finish. Very Good. 7-
Weingut Hirsch, Kammern, Kamptal
Weingut Hirsch have some 23 hectares in the Kamptal including vines on the famous Heiligenstein and Gaisberg hills. Rather flash gold and black labels make the wines look a bit blingy.
2003 Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein, 13%
Stelvin closure. A very pure, minerally riesling nose: very crisp and limey. Fairly full on the palate, with some residual sugar immediately evident. A fairly classic, full, very ripe Kamptal riesling. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2003 Riesling Zöbinger Gaisberg, 13%
Stelvin closure. A ripe, quite tropical riesling nose. A nicely balanced wine. Some sweetness, but very good acidity. Very Good Indeed. 8+
Weingut Bernhard Ott, Feuersbrunn, Donauland
Bernhard Ott is a Grüner Veltliner specialist: after taking over the winery in 1995, he replanted much of the estate's vineyards with Grüner Veltliner, which is now planted in 85% of the estate's 16 hectares of vineyards, many in the Hengstberg vineyard in Feuersbrunn.
2004 Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg, 12%
Stelvin closure. A delicate, lightly perfumed GV nose. Light, ripe fruit. Clean and very elegant. A good, relatively basic GV. 6
2004 Grüner Veltliner Der Ott, 13%
Stelvin closure. A grassy nose laden with melon fruit. Fresh and clean on the palate. Good complexity. Nice layers of flavour. Nice finish. Very Good Indeed. 8
Weingut Familie Gesellmann, Deutschkreutz,
2002 Gesellmann TBA, 12.5%
A Sämling trockenbeerenauslese. A heavy mid gold with greenish tinges. A perfumed nose, but very much dominated by botrytis. Sweet and very rich with heavy honey flavours and a touch of honeydew melon. OK. 4
Weingut Glatzer, Göttlesbrunn, Carnuntum
Walter Glatzer has 20 hectares of vineyards in the Carnuntum region. He grows mainly red varieties, and in particular Zweigelt.
2003 St. Laurent Altenberg, Weingut Glatzer, 13.5%
A very dark purple. Fruity, soft raspberry-cherry nose. Rather simple. OK. 4
Weinlaubenhof Kracher, Illmitz, Neusiedlersee
2004 Pinot Gris, 12.8%
A very light pinot gris nose. Good character. This is a nice pinot gris, just above the basic level, with some interest and some complexity. Very Good. 7
2003 Cuvée Beerenauslese, 12.5%
A blend of chardonnay and welschriesling. A lightly perfumed nose with clear chardonnay and some riesling character. Nice body. Good character. Fairly simple and straightforward. Very Good. 7+
2001 Cuvée Eiswein, 11%
Pungent concentrated tropical fruit nose. Lovely balance. Very fine. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2002 Scheurebe TBA No. 5, 10%
A glorious perfumed nose. Very fine and very finely balanced. Very elegant. Superb. 9
2002 Grande Cuvée TBA No. 7, 9%
Not the most precise of noses. Very sweet and a touch cloying on the palate. Yet still very fine. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 8-
2002 Welschriesling TBA No. 8, 8.5%
A perfumed, clean nose. Lovely balance. Layers of flavour. Not at all overdone. Very Good Indeed. 8
2002 Chardonnay TBA No. 2, 10.5%
A nose that is quite simply a smoky essence of chardonnay. Pure, sweet, elegant. Fair acidity too. Very Good Indeed. 8
Weingut Schwarz, Schrattenberg, Weinviertel
The family-run Schwarz winery is located in one of the oldest regions of red wine production in Austria: in Schrattenberg, a "red wine island" in the eastern Weinviertel.. The main varieties grown are Zweigelt and St. Laurent, together with cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Small amounts of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are grown, together with some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
2004 Grüner Veltliner, 12.5%
A strange confected nose of caramel and roast almonds. Very straightforward and ordinary. OK. 3
2003 Riesling Steingrube, 13%
A soapy riesling nose. Good body; decent balance. Clean and fresh. Good acid levels. Very straightforward. Good. 4+
Tegernseerhof, Dürnstein, Wachau
(represented by www.thewinekeller.co.uk)
This is a family-run business with around 25 hectares of vineyards in the best sites of the Wachau. Tegernseerhof produces mainly Grüner Veltliner and Riesling .
2003 Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner, 12.5%
Lovely perfumed GV nose – quite citrussy. Clean and round. Really quite spicy, especially on the finish, when there's lots of white pepper spice. A touch flabby. Good. 5
2004 Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner, 12.5%
A more austere nose than the 2003. A much cleaner, broader, more precise palate. A really very nice wine. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2003 Bergdistel Grüner Veltliner, 13.5%
The Bergdistel is not a site, but an invented name: the wines come from 3 different vineyards, each with its own soil.
A very broad open nose. Nice acidity with good balance. A bit atypical for a European 2003, and really rather more typical of a Wachau GrüV. Very exotic though. Very Good Indeed. 8
2004 Bergdistel Grüner Veltliner, 13.5%
A very precise, focussed nose. Clean. Very good balance. This doesn't have the over-opulence, but is more rounded, cleaner and tighter. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2003 Loibenberg Riesling, 12.5%
3g residual sugar. A slatey, mineral-driven nose. Pure riesling fruit on the palate with good, but not excessive ripeness. Very powerful on the finish, with enormous length. Very Good Indeed. 8
2004 Loibenberg Riesling, 12.5%
5.5g residual sugar. A light, zesty nose with a touch of minerals. Delightful attack. Cleaner and fresher and more lively than the 2003, with better structure. Very Good Indeed. 8+
2003 Kellerberg Riesling, 13.5%
Quite a reticent riesling nose with some tropical fruit. Round and fairly rich, but not as elegant as the Loibenberg. Tropical fruit on the palate too. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 7
2004 Kellerberg Riesling, 13.5%
A ripe, slightly muddy nose. Really good riesling character on the palate, in a rich and full style. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 7+
1999 Eiswein Grüner Veltliner, 12.5%
Made from grapes unaffected by botrytis, harvested mid-November. A very, very pure nose with peachy fruit. Very fine palate with enormous white pepper spice building towards the finish. Super-concentrated GrüV. Excellent. 9
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Last updated: 15 December 2005