**Photo Courtesy Austrian Wine Board**
It is July 4th and we are in the thick of the summer season. With warm weather, I am sipping on lighter fare with crisp elegant wines. During the summer months, Austrian white wines make the top of my list. We all know and love Austria’s star grape variety Gruner Veltliner, it is the perfect white wine for summer sipping. In addition, here are four other Austrian white grape varieties that are fun, unique and a great addition to your summer wine list.
Discover Austria’s Indigenous Grapes & Hidden Gems
Gruner Veltliner is Austria’s most significant autochthonous white grape variety. It is steely, mineral-driven with stone fruit, pepper, and spicy notes; making Gruner Veltliner the ideal white wine for the summer Austria also has a diversity of white grape varieties that are hidden gems. We will explore some of these varieties here, Roter Veltliner, Orangetraube, Zierfandler (Spätrot) and Rotgipfler.
Austria is an exciting region with unique indigenous grape varieties, their white wines are typically on the lighter side with a purity of expression as the wines typically see very little oak. The next generation of Austrian winemakers are producing quality-focused wines that are of the highest quality. Continue reading as we feature unique and rare Austrian white grape varieties alongside some of Austria’s best producers.
Roter Veltliner is an indigenous white wine variety with reddish grape skin and is the parent variety of the Veltliner group. It produces elegant wines that have fine aromatics with huge aging potential. Carrying a similar name to Gruner Veltliner, this indigenous Austrian variety is not related to Gruner Veltliner. It is an old variety that is admired for its rich flavor profile. It grows in limited areas of Niederösterreich, especially in Wagram, Kamptal and Kremstal.
WIMMER-CZERNY is an extraordinary family winery that is situated in the little wine village of Fels am Wagram. Several old documents are referencing the family producing wine on the estate going back to the early 17th century.
Wimmer-Czerny Roter Veltliner Wagram Austria 2020 is a beautiful expression of Roter Veltliner with hints of citrus and distinct minerality. It is tart with notes of floral and peppery-spicy tones with nice grippy acidity. This is the perfect summer wine with its bright acidity, delicate nutty finish and long persistence. A gorgeous pairing with pasta, risotto, tomato burrata salads or grilled shrimp.
Orangetraube is a white grape varietal, originally selected from wild vines by the influential German viticulturist Johann Phillip Bronner in 1840. Since its recognition in the “Lexicon der Rebsorten” (Lexicon of Grape Varietals) by August Wilhelm von Babo in 1954, it’s been cultivated in Germany and Austria. Orangetraube was typically only used as part of a field blend (known in Austria as Gemischter Satz) and rarely as a single-variety wine.
Note Orangetraube is not a skin contact orange wine. Orangetraube produces wines that are something entirely different. It is a white grape variety. When fully ripe, the grapes’ skin takes on a slightly orange tint, hence the name Orangetraube, literally translated to “Orange Grape.”
Zahel Orange T 2020 Austria is produced with 100% Orangetraube grape variety. The variety has been a part of Zahel’s Gemischter Satz field blends since the winery began in 1930. In 1966 Karl Georg Zahel selected the variety and isolated it in a single vineyard. He had noticed that the Orangetraube gave his Gemischter Satz a unique quality, and he hoped to highlight the little-known grape in a wine of its own. Two generations later, Zahel is still the only Austrian winery that produces a wine composed of 100% Orangetraube.
Vienna is the only city in the world to boast its own wine-producing region, producing simple field blends called Gemischter Satz. These wines were typically produced for the local masses until the Zahel family came into the picture. They wanted to elevate the quality of wines from the region, and today they are the only biodynamically farmed, Demeter-certified winery in Vienna.
Zahel Orange T 2020 is a rare and unique wine, so if you see it on the shelves, grab it fast. This wine is one for the books. On the palate, you have deliciously intense stone fruit with a mild spiciness on the end. On first sip, there is bright acidity and pleasant sweet fruit, ending with a memorable finish. A sheer delight.
Zierfandler & Rotgipfler
The indigenous Zierfandler is found in the Thermenregion. It is traditionally blended with Rotgipfler but is increasingly being produced as a varietal wine. Zierfandler wines are typically elegant and quite sweet with bright acidity with a nutty bouquet of pistachios and almonds. The wines generally are capable of aging gracefully.
Stift Klosterneuburg Monastery Wine Estate was founded in 1114 and is one of Austria’s oldest wineries. With 108 hectares of vineyards, it is one of the country‘s largest and most renowned estates. At the heart of the famous white wine-producing region of the Thermenregion, south of Vienna, Stift Klosterneuburg Monastery Wine Estate has been growing the two native varieties Zierfandler (Spätrot) and Rotgipfler for decades. Since 2009, they have been the first carbon-neutral wine estate in Europe.
Stift Klosterneuburg Zierfandler-Rotgipfler 2020 is a wine that has a gorgeous bright yellow hue that glistens in the glass. On the nose, there are tropical fruit notes, while the palette embraces you with hints of mango and lime. Delicate yet powerful and incredibly well balanced this wine has excellent aging potential.