Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Did You Know?... The Wines of Austria

There is a strong wine culture in Austria, although we're more likely to hear about Germany's, here. Like nearby Germany, Austrian wines come from cold climate grapes and are often grown on hillsides along river valleys, like the Danube. Despite the similarities in climate, Austrian wines tend toward riper fruit, with higher alcohol content.

Vines in the Wachau region, outside Duernstein

Austria relies on a mix of "Germanic" and "Romanic" labeling for it's wines. In many cases, wines are labeled by the varietal, like German or New World wines. But they also have developed a series of Appellations with typing styles, called DACs, similar to the French and Italian system of labeling.

The majority of the wine made in Austria is white wine. The most common grape is the Gruner Veltliner, a native of Austria that is seldom seen anywhere else.(Although it's a common varietal in some U.S. cold climate regions, as well.) In addition to growing small amounts of some of the more common white varietals like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, they grow a large number of grapes seldom seen outside Eastern Europe like the Welschriesling and Weissburgunder.

The bulk of Austria's red wine is in other nearly unique varietals, Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch. They grow other common varietals like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, but these make up a very small percentage of their overall production.

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