Austria 2010 was pretty tough going, though there are plenty of lovely wines.
It was one of the lowest volumes in almost 25 years, nearly a third lower than the average yield of 2.5mhl.
Cold and wet weather caused a challenging period for flowering and fruit set, which is the first point of the year when yields can be affected. Champion grape variety grüner veltliner was most affected. Fritz Miesbauer, the winemaker at Stift Göttweig, which has vineyards in Kremstal and the Wachau, said “the first 50% of vegetative period was terrible, cold and wet. Then the weather changed and August, September and November were perfect conditions which helped us have good wines.”
Late harvest is fairly normal, especially in Lower Austria, and as October alternated between dry and wet spells, late picking brought its own rewards, where producers delayed harvesting into November, waiting for grapes to put on ripeness and concentration. Miesbauer said “we picked our main harvest at the end of November, when we normally pick at the end of October or the beginning of November. But then I’m a fan of late picking.”
In terms of quality, there are plenty of good whites to be had. Coolness throughout has led to elevated acidity levels, and as a result, quite a few wines have a bit more residual sugar than usual to balance this. Miesbauer said “in my cellar fermentations lasted a long time, up to Feb 23, and the end of January/beginning of February for reserve gruner veltliner. So 2010 had higher acidities and higher residual sugar. Reserve is normally 2-4g/l, this year it’s nearer 5-6g/l residual sugar. Acidities are correspondingly higher. Many vintners had more skin contact – in two days, our acidity dropped 2-3g/l, which helped for more balance.”
It’s a vintage that will fit the cool, classic mould. “A vintner’s vintage” concluded Miesbauer.
Following on from a May 2011 tour of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), these are some highlights from the 2010 vintage (disparity in number because, for example, only one 2010 vintage from Wachau producers was shown versus over 50 from Kamptal):
Tasting notes, in situ, May 2011
Haindl-Erlacher, Grüner Veltliner 2010, Weinviertel DAC
12.4%, 2g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Fresh, perky, citrus nose, lifted, grassy, fresh cut grass (quite sauvignon blanc like in this respect), then green and peppery. Good length. Good.
Hirtl, Grüner Veltliner Bürsting 2010, Weinviertel DAC
12.5%, 4g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Grass and a hint of light apricot, fresh with some attractive depth and concentration. Good.
Zull, Grüner Veltliner 2010, Weinviertel DAC
12.5% 4g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Spices and real depth of peaches and cream on the palate. The merest hint of sweetness lifts it all up and accents the extra dimension. Good.
Bründlmayer, Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen 2010, Kamptal DAC
12%, 2.6g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Fragrant, peachy, aromatic, nice intensit. Spicy and firestone, rich and concentration.
Schloss Gobelsburg, Grüner Veltliner Gobelsburger 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5%, 2.2g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Peach and pepper nose, steely, acacia, smooth, good concentration of straightforward, dense, primary fruit flavours. Good.
Winzerhof Sax, Grüner Veltliner Zwillingslauser 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5%, 2.3g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Sweet aromatic pepper on the nose, light white pepper, white peach, light-medium body, attractive purity and elegance. Good.
Hirsch, Grüner Veltliner Kammerner Heiligenstein 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5%, 4g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peach and the beginnings of tropical fruit, full and lush with pineapple, mango of appreciable density and succulent balance. High tasty quotient. Good.
Arndorfer, Grüner Veltliner Strasser Weinberg 2010, Kamptal DAC
13%, 8.1g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Peach, nectarine, spicy aromatics, dense, ‘sweet’ fruits, compote, lush and not quite full. Veering to sweeter balance, and attractive for that. Has richness in non-complex style. Long.
Aichinger, Grüner Veltliner Urgestein 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5% 5g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Peach and honeyed apples, zesty intense attack, rich with firestone and non-fruity intensity. Big immediate intensity and palate-grabbing flavour, sweet concentration, but not sweet wine. Very good, long.
Eichinger, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Gaisberg 2010, Kamptal DAC
13.3%, 3.5g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peaches and cream, full fat, tropical and lush fruit, with glycerol sweetness. Rounded style, and good.
Steinschaden, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Gigant 2010, Kamptal DAC
14%, 4.7g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Gunsmoke nose with tropical fruit. Full and rounded in aromatic spicy, and attractive manner. Intensity and concentration with frame and length. Good.
Brandl, Riesling Heiligenstein 2010, Kamptal DAC
14.5%, 2 g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Cooking apple compote on the nose, perky, fresh, intense, a wine that buzzes the palate and wakes the senses. Lovely balanced just-ripe fruits, crunchy and juicy. Very good.
Rabl, Riesling Steinhaus 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5%, 3g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Apples, crunchy, fresh, perky, linear in straightforward way. Super intensity of primary citrus, apples, white pears, with good concentration. Long.
Hiedler, Riesling Steinhaus 2010, Kamptal DAC
12.5%, 5.4g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Apple, citrus, with hint of pear on the nose. Fresh attack to palate with crunchy ripe, primary fruits of good intensity, well framed and proportioned. Long. Good.
Aichinger, Riesling Reserve Rosenberg 2010, Kamptal DAC
13%, 1g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peachy, hints of apricot on the nose, and with a gently balanced mid weight tone and texture and fresh, perky core. Well proportioned and balanced. Good.
Allram-Haas, Riesling Reserve Gaisberg 2010, Kamptal DAC
13%, 6g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peachy nose, sweet ripe peaches and preserved lemon fruit on palate. Enticing and moreish, in fresh, intense, primary, non-complex fashion. Very good.
Schloss Gobelsburg, Riesling Reserve Kammerner Gaisberg 2010, Kamptal DAC
13%, 7g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Spicy, rich, firestone, peachy, tropical, complex. Lush without being sweet, well framed, strongly proportioned but not muscley. Lovely and very good.
Stadt Krems, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Wachtberg 2010, Kremstal DAC
13%, 6g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peach blossom, hint dry honeyed perfume. Peachy palate, some sweet richness on the mid palate with a smooth and enticing texture. Seamless and fresh. Very good.
Nigl, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Privat Senftenberger Pellingen 2010, Kremstal DAC
14.5%, 2.8g/l RS. >€20
Peaches and cream with a pause for meditative thought right there. Bewitching nose of bass perfume notes, lush with a steely and magnolia-fragrant core in a full body. Slightly mesmerising, and really very good indeed.
Markus Huber, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Alte Setzen 2010, Traisental DAC
13%, 2.7g/l RS. ExCellar €10 to €20
Peaches and cream, medium weight, veering to fresh tropical fruit, sweetly balanced and framed. Well proportioned, with freshness and elegance. Good.
Heiderer-Mayer, Grüner Veltliner Wagramer Selektion, 2010, Wagram
13%, 3.8g/l RS. ExCellar <€10
Gentle, sweetly-spiced nose, Fresh, and nicely balanced with white peachy fruit, and sweet ripeness. Good.
Veyder-Malberg, Grüner Veltliner Hochrain 2010, Wachau
12.5%, 3g/l RS ExCellar >€20
Gunsmoke with dense peaches and cream, fresh, linear, with huge depth of fruit. Very good.
My research trip to Austria was sponsored by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.
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