Austria had always been a great place to drink wine. Back in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for example, the wines graced the tables of the finest banquets seen in Europe, so despite the sluggish reaction on the export markets outside of Europe, the potential had always been there.
In 1986 a wine law was introduced to limit yields on the vines. This means that each vine had a maximum number of grapes you could produce from it. This usually has the effect of concentrating flavours and raising the possibilities for the standard of the resulting wine. And it worked.
The wine labeling laws are very similar to Germany. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s incredibly complicated. It bands grapes in a system of Prädikatsweine, depending on how much sugar is in the grape. It’s easier at this juncture to just say you get a full range of dry to sweet whites, high to low alcohol too. We’ll work on them as we go over the year.
The south and west of Austria is basically the Alps, so funnily enough they decided not to grow grapes there. Everything is over in the east. The cooler North East borders the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the warmer South East borders Hungary. So you can place in your head where it is.
The two biggest regions for wine making are Niederösterreich (which means lower Austria) and Burgenland. Between them they produce something like 90% of all Austrian wines.
Niederösterreich is actually up north, and is called what it is because it’s where the altitude descends in a series of steep valleys. There’s lots of sun exposure, there’s not a huge amount of autumn rainfall, and so you get a fair old growing season. This is absolutely perfect for aromatic white grapes to get to full ripeness, like Riesling, and our New Wine This Week, Austria’s very own Grüner Veltliner.
Other posts in NWTW Week 9: