Fresh and light Austrian wines from the excellent 2019 vintage

David Williams
·2-min read

Diwald Chagrü, Wagram, Austria 2019 (£16.40, The Good Spirits Co) There’s been a lot of hype around the quality of the 2019 vintage in Austria. That it would turn out fine seems to have been written in the stars: years ending in nine always work well for Austrian winemakers, with 2009, 1999 and, going further back, 1979, all remembered as some of the finest, featuring wines that are both immediately appealing and capable of ageing. I’m wary of generalisations about vintages. There are always exceptions: bad producers can make bad wines in ‘good’ years, and vice versa. But the Austrian 2019s I’ve tasted so far do seem particularly vivacious, with young winemaker Martin Diwald’s mix of chardonnay, the local favourite grüner veltliner and pinot blanc a perfectly weighted, superbly plump and fresh partner for spicy food.

Weingut Rabl Grüner Veltliner, Käferberg Reserve, Austria 2018 (£20.95, Strictly Wine) Grüner veltliner, a variety still rare outside its central European home, is behind some of the best white wines in Austria. You can find it made in a citrussy style with a touch of apple and a whisper of pepper in the easy-drinkers made by Markus Huber for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference (£8) and Morrisons’ The Best (£8.25) own-labels (both 2018 vintage). Or it can be made into something more opulent, full-flavoured and rich, but still dry and with a freshening trickle of acidity, as in Weingut Rabl’s tropically scented joy. But Austria is equally adept with riesling. The varied 2019 offerings from producers such as Pichler, Prager and Emmerich Knoll all worth looking out for, and Loimer Lagenolis Kamptal Riesling 2019 (£16.35, vinvm.co.uk) a pristine gem.

Ecker Eckhof Zweigelt Brilliant, Wagram, Austria 2019 (£13.50, Reserve Wines) Still best known for its whites, Austria’s reds are no less varied – and they thrived in 2019, too. I’m a big fan of the cherry-fruited stylings of the local zweigelt variety, which is in vivid effect in Ecker Eckhof’s version, which has a Beaujolais-esque joie de vivre that takes well to serving a little cooler than you might normally serve your reds. In similarly thirst-quenching style, but from the other of Austria’s standout native varieties, blaufränkisch, Judith Beck Blaufränkisch, Burgenland 2019 (£15.95, buonvino.co.uk) is irresistibly moreish. And you get a slightly darker cast of fruit (blackberry), but still with that just-picked quality combined with racy freshness and a hint of the savoury, in Markus Altenburger Blaufränkisch vom Kalk, Burgenland 2018 (£18.50, thegoodwineshop.co.uk).

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