Wine Club - 2008 Tastings
Monday 20th October 2008
Austrian Wines presented by Vivienne Franks
Grüner Veltliner grapes
Austria has it all. Mountains, rivers, lakes. A great climate with cold winters
good for skiing and other spicy glühwein-inspired sporting activities. Its long
warm summers are ideal for walks through the beautiful countryside and produce perfect
conditions for growing grapes.
4000 years of winemaking history counted for little after the 'antifreeze scandal' of 1985, when it was revealed that some wine brokers had been adulterating their wines with diethylene glycol. The scandal destroyed the market for Austrian wine, but in the long term was a force for good, compelling Austria to tackle low standards of bulk wine production, and reposition herself as a quality wine producer . Actually, Austria doesn’t actually make that much wine. The reason that Austrian wines are not better known abroad is probably because the domestic market greedily snaps up most of the good stuff.
Most vineyards are located in the warmer eastern part of the country and probably the best
known of these regions is the Burgenland, home to the rich botrytis affected luscious dessert
wines. Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most abundant grape variety, some 10 times more widely
planted than Riesling, and makes versatile, expressive white wines often with a distinct peppery
character. But it would be unfair to think of Austria just in terms of Grüner Veltliner and
Riesling from the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal. There are other regions producing steely
Riesling and rich red wines from unfamiliar sounding varieties like Blaufränkisch (also
known as Lemberger) and Zweigelt.
Vivienne Franks will explain why the wines from this delightful part of Europe should be better known. Vivienne is a wine educator and writer who teaches for The Wine Education Service, for the WSET School and for Leith's School of Food and Wine. Vivienne regularly judges for The International Wine and Spirit Competition and International Wine Challenge. In addition she is a frequent panel taster for the Decanter magazine. She has travelled widely throughout the world’s wine regions, and she particularly enjoys sharing her fascination with the lesser-known European wines from Switzerland, Austria and Hungary.