Austrian WineGive me a bowl of wine, In this I bury all unkindness. - William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
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Austrian Wine


Austrian Wine

Austria's wine making credentials date back 3,000 years or more, with vineyard cultivation established well before the Romans. As far back as the 16th century, Austrian dessert wines were prized throughout Europe. Austria is a small mountainous wine country with just 4 growing regions located in the eastern portion of the country.

  1. Bergland - in the provinces Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Corinthia, and Upper Austria

  2. Wein ( Vienna) - Vienna is the only capital in the world to have a wine region within city limits. Most of the wine produced in Vienna never leaves the city and is consumed in Heuriger (wine taverns). Gruner Veltliner is the main grape variety.

  3. Steiermark – in the province of Styria

  4. Weinland - consists of the provinces Burgenland and Lower Austria

Austria enjoys a great diversity of soil types, from stone and gravel to heavy clay, from volcanic and conglomerate to loess (a fine-grained yellowish brown deposit of soil left by the wind) and lake sand as well as differing micro-climates. This provides excellent conditions for growing a wide range of both red and white grapes, translating their distinctive origins into the bottle. Austria has excellent results with all the major international varieties, but its real power shines through with a sizeable amount of leading grape varieties coming from indigenous vines. It is the land that invented late-harvest dessert wines and remains a leading source of exotic, magical drinks, particularly the Ausbruch from the shores of Lake Neusiedl. Austria's signature grape is gruner veltliner, a wine that can be rich in taste and satisfying with food

One of the stumbling blocks to understanding Austrian wine is its labeling. Since the beginning of the 1990's, Austria has implemented some of the strictest wine classifications laws in the world. Wines are categorized as follows:

  • Qualitatswein: A wine from a specific region, but also using authorized grape varieties. Literally, "quality wine," to which sugar may be added within certain legal limits.
    (11.5-13 percent alcohol)
  • Kabinett: Of similar quality to Qualitaswein, but the grapes are further ripened. No Chaptalization. Maximum of 9 grams per liter residual sugar.
    (12-12.5 percent alcohol)
  • Federspiel: Translates roughly as "falconry" and reflects the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. The equivalent of kabinett in the Wachau.
    (11.5-12 pecent alcohol)
  • Spatlese: No Chaptalization or sussreserve (sweetening agent). Maximum of 9 grams per liter residual sugar.
    (13-14 percent alcohol)
  • Smaragd: Means emerald and is the color of the tiny lizards that live in the vineyard. The equivalent of spätlese in the Wachau.
    (13-14 percent alcohol).
  • Ausbruch: An historical term used for dessert wines made from grapes affected by botrytis and have started to shrivel.
    (minimum alcohol 5 percent)
  • Strohwein: Literally, "straw wine". It is sweet wine made from grapes dried on straw mats for at least 3 months.
  • Tafelwein: The lowest quality, termed a "jug" wine.

Austria produces white wines of high quality, the best of which come from Burgenland. Quality standards, adopted in 1972, are similar to those of Germany. The woods north of Vienna have become a tourist attraction noted for the heurigen, or new wine taverns.

White Grape Varieties

  • Bouvier: Originally a table grape; used for dessert wines in Burgenland.
  • Grauburgunder: Pinot Gris.
  • Gruner Veltiner: The most widely planted white grape in Austria.
  • Morillon: Chardonnay.
  • Riesling: Source of the finest wines.
  • Sämling 88; a cross of Riesling and Silvaner.
  • Weissburgunder: Pinot Blanc.
  • Welvchriesling-European grape; no relation to Riesling.

Red Grape Varieties

  • Lemberger or Limberger.
  • St-Laurent: A black grape thought to be related to Pinot Noir.
  • Blauer Spätburgunder: Pinot Noir.
  • Blauer Zweigelt: The most widely planted red variety.

Austria's wine industry has undergone a highly impressive turnaround over the last two decades. The strictest wine law in the world, together with an innovative generation of winemakers, has put Austrian wine in a strong position in the home market as well as the highest export figures in decades.


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