Austria, WINE

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Austria's is another of those wonderful stories of wine redemption. In the 21st century, the country has fully emerged from the controversies and underachieving quality that plagued its reputation for the latter half of the 20th century. Austrian winemakers have once again found their groove, working with native varietals and strict adherence to quality standards. Wine production in Austria is concetrated mostly in the east of the country, where the Alps prevent any Mediterranean influence. Instead, the region is dominated by a continental climate and heavily influenced by the wide, meandering Danube river, the shallow Neusiedl lake, and the vast, warm Pannonian Plain to the east. The state of Niederösterreich is the overall epicenter of Austrian wine, and this is the most common regional designation found on basic bottlings.

The signature grape is indisputably the aromatic, peppery, zesty Grüner Veltliner, but Riesling also finds a special expression in many of Austria's more specific white wine micro-climates and terroir. Wachau is perhaps Austria's most famous region although it doesn't bear an offical DAC designation. Its steep, sun-drenched terraces above the Danube (similar to those of Germany's Mosel) are known for their citrusy, peppery, ageworthy Grüners and rich, steely Rieslings. The local quality spectrum divides wines into three categories according to ripeness and alcohol content: Steinfeder, Federspiel, and the heady, dense, otherworldly Smaragd. A bit further down the Danube is the prestigious DAC of Kremstal. The climate here is a bit warmer than Wachau, exposed as it is to the warm dry winds of the Pannonian Plain. The corresponding wine styles typically display fuller richness than Wachau, along with more tropical fruit notes in the whites, while the red Zweigelt is able to gain a foothold here, too.

Next up is Kamptal, another small wine commune on a tributary of the Danube and revered the world over for its intensely rich, spicy Grüner Veltliners and bone-dry, smoky Rieslings. The steeper terraces are well-suited to Riesling, while Grüner thrives on the lower slopes in the deeper clay and loess soils. Much like its neighbors, Kamptal is heavily influenced by the river and the plain, as well as the cool winds from the Alps. As the course of the Danube flattens, it reaches the Wagram, where the vineyards are concentrated in on a broad plain and plateau of uniformly deep loess soils — prime Grüner country, where the wines are rich, densely packed flavor bombs with a characteristically full, creamy texture.

Southeast of Vienna, the areas around the Neusiedl Lake are markedly different than those along the Danube. Burgenland, as it's known, runs south from the Danube to Steiermark along the Hungarian border and has more in common, climatically speaking, with Hungary than with the rest of Austria. The lake itself is the defining influence here, storing heat and lengthening the ripening season. The region produces Austria's finest red wines from Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, and Sankt Laurent varietals. The lake's attendant humidity is also a major factor in developing botrytis cinerea, a necessary ingredient in producing world-class sweet wines, the best of which rival those of Sauternes and Tokaj.

There is no shortage of great viticultural potential in Austria, and as the years pass by, we are likely only scratching the surface of what's possible here. The future looks bright indeed.

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92 points James Suckling: Plenty of lime, lemon rind and grapefruit character. Full body, dense and very fruity with bright acidity. Drink now. (10/1/17) + Terry Theise: ...It used to be called 'Veltliner #1' and the label was comical and changed each year. Now we re naming it after an ad… ...

JS 92
WE 90
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Hirsch Gruner Veltliner Niederosterreich Hirschvergnugen 2016  (#332752)

Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 6 available
$16.95
$21.00
Save $4.05 (19%)21.00
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95 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate) :...very concentrated and intense, with lime and crushed slate aromas giving it a purity that is rare in the warm 2011 vintage... reveals black and red currant aromas, wild black and blue berries along with juniper and leafy flavors.... ripe and… ...

WA 95
V 93
W&S 92
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Moric Blaufrankisch Burgenland Alte Reben Neckenmarkt 2011  (#329166)

Blaufränkisch from Mittelburgenland, Burgenland, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
WA 95
V 93
W&S 92
$74.88
$126.00
Save $51.12 (41%)126.00
Save $51.12 (41%)

98 points and 'Top 100 Wines of 2017,' James Suckling: A stunning high-end dry riesling that's still quite shy on the nose, but really concentrated and very finely-nuanced on the palate. Devastatingly beautiful peachy fruit, some honeysuckle and enormous depth at the long, graceful finish. This will… ...

JS 98
WA 94
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Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachau Achleiten 2016  (#330943)

Riesling from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 6 available
$44.95
$60.00
Save $15.05 (25%)60.00
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94-95 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2015 Riesling Smaragd Klaus displays a cool, precise and extremely flinty bouquet of white-fleshed stone fruits. Intense and rich on the palate, this is an elegant, dense and tightly woven wine with great concentration, grip and expression.… ...

WA 94-95
WS 93
V 92
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Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachau Trocken Klaus 2015  (#328157)

Riesling from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
WA 94-95
WS 93
V 92
$67.95
$80.00
Save $12.05 (15%)80.00
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A fresh, elegant and harmonious Grüner Veltliner with a soft, fruity aroma and tones of black pepper. Fresh and spicy taste with a delicate fruity finish. ...

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Hogl Gruner Veltliner Federspiel J&G 2016  (#331392)

Grüner Veltliner from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$18.95
$23.25
Save $4.30 (18%)23.25
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97 points James Suckling: Very flinty and quite smoky, this is still very tightly wound and has a staggering minerality, but you need to wait at least until 2018 - actually 2028, or even 2038, would be better! - for this radical expression of Wachau terroir to give its best. An amazing finish that… ...

JS 97
WA 95
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Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachau Klaus 2016  (#330942)

Riesling from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$49.88
$66.00
Save $16.12 (24%)66.00
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Brilliant gold. Perfumed with lively aromas of quince and honey intermingled with a hint of ginger. This Beerenauslese is softly textured, with moderate acidity and a semi-sweet palate redolent with eastern spices. The fruit was gently crushed where it remained in contact with skins for 12 hours to… ...

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Wenzel Furmint Beerenauslese Burgenland 2013  (#328135)

Dessert Wine from Neusiedlersee, Burgenland, Austria

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$19.88
$32.00
Save $12.12 (38%)32.00
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91-92 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): ...exhibits a striking combination of bright, active, tart citricity and gooseberry crunch with smoky, stony underpinnings. Formidably energetic and persistent, it comes off as a bit more primary and reminiscent of a 'normal' handling of Riesling fruit...… ...

V 91-92
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Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Niederosterreich Tradition 2013  (#330946)

Riesling from Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available

92 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2015 Riesling Smaragd Wösendorfer Hochrain displays a smoky and stony bouquet. On the palate, this is a just-ripe and tightly woven Riesling with power, salt and tension. Very stimulating its grip. Drink: 2020-2030. (Jun 2016) ...

WA 92
V 92
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Pichler/Rudi Riesling Wachau Smaragd Hochrain 2015  (#328161)

Riesling from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$46.88
$70.00
Save $23.12 (33%)70.00
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93-94 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): Last tasted from cask in June 2016, this combines ripe white peach, fresh lime and floral perfume with coolingly pungent mint and oregano. Polished in feel and infectiously juicy, it introduces a welter of shimmering, ineffable mineral nuances - saline,… ...

V 93-94
WA 93
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Nigl Riesling Kremstal Hochacker 2015  (#327576)

Riesling from Kremstal, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$41.88
$60.00
Save $18.12 (30%)60.00
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93 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): ...from nose to finish there is a cooling as well as alluring impression of high-toned floral and green herbal extracts, with flavors of green bean and ripe pear retaining a sense of crunch that provides delightful counterpoint to the wine s glossy texture.… ...

V 93
WA 92
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Pichler/Rudi Gruner Veltliner Wachau Achleithen Smaragd 2015  (#328160)

Grüner Veltliner from Wachau, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
$64.88
$100.00
Save $35.12 (35%)100.00
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91 points Wine Enthusiast: Yeasty savor and saltiness mingle with yellow pear scents on the nose of this wine. The palate adds juicy, ripe yellow plum to the mix, expanding its flavor to full-on fruitiness, with a baseline of zest and saltiness. It's generously packed, with a clean, dry and lasting… ...

WE 91
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Laurenz V. Gruner Veltliner Kamptal Charming Reserve 2015  (#701979)

Other White Wines from Kamptal, Niederösterreich, Austria

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$19.95
$30.00
Save $10.05 (34%)30.00
Save $10.05 (34%)
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