Austria

Austria

Austria is grossly underrated as a wine country. Despite its great quality, variety, and strong preference for organic and handpicked vineyards, it languishes behind its neighbours in terms of popularity. A great shame, as these are immensely enjoyable wines that speak of their place and viticultural history.

The wine regions are largely to the east of the country: the Danube regions of Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal and other smaller DACs (Districtus Austriae Controllatus - the Austrian equivalent to Appellation Controlee) make up the larger area of Niederosterreich (Lower Austria) with Burgenland bordering Hungary, and Styria (Steiermark) to the south-east.

Austria's most widely planted variety, and its calling card, is Gruner Veltliner. A delicious, citrus scented wine, often with a little kick of pepper. Riesling thrives on the steep-sided valleys of Wachau and Kamptal: largely speaking, making wines that are drier than those of neighbouring Germany. The wines of Vienna (Wien) are up-and-coming, with many interesting field blends (Germischter Satz). If you are looking for reds, don't overlook Burgenland, where varieties such as Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, and St Laurent make the headlines.

This country is also home to some of Europe's great sweet wines, mostly made around the shallow Lake Neusiedl. Ruster Ausbruch on the west bank and Neusiedlersee on the east. Both are heavily influenced by botrytis, encouraged by the mist from the lake and the warm Pannonian climate.

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