Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Austria, land of red wine

Have you tried red wine from Austria before? If I say that I’m not counting anything that was served hot as part of the après-ski, then I’m guessing there are few of you with your metaphorical hands up.

Austria is predominantly a white wine country, with white varieties accounting for around two thirds of total production; but the tide is turning towards red. In 1999 just over a quarter of production was red; ten years later it was over a third – and there’s no reason to think that this trend will not have continued.

Austria’s wine lands are crowded into the relatively flat (or at least not mountainous) eastern end of the country, around the capital, Vienna. While there’s no denying that winters in Austria are cold, the continental climate here also means that summers can be surprisingly warm – hence the ability to ripen red grapes.

The most popular red varieties are Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, but UK consumers might feel more comfortable opting for Pinot Noir, which, while still a niche wine in Austria, is also gaining ground – and international recognition.

These are not the easiest wines to find here – yet – but here are some to look out for:

Stift Göttweig Pinot Noir “Göttweiger Berg” 2013 - £15.50 from The Good Wine Shop
Aromas of fresh strawberry mingle with herbal freshness.

Johanneshof Reinisch Holzspur Pinot Noir 2012 - £15.90 from Eclectic Tastes
Classic Pinot profile of red fruit and spice; light, dry and refined.

Wieninger “Grand Select” Pinot Noir 2011 – Noel Young Wines have the 2006 for £21.89
Beguiling combination of oak and delicately perfumed fruit that has enough grip for food.

And if you’d like to explore Austrian wines in more depth, head to speicalists Alpine Wines (

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