Wine, Journal

Austrian White Wines – An Introduction

By Jon Elordi

Austrian white wines

If you’re looking for crisp acidity and a price tag that won’t break the bank, you should definitely start getting into Austrian white wines. Austria is an up-and-coming country for wine lovers to investigate.

The best-known Austrian wines are the white wines. Austria does have a fair amount of red grapes, producing some fine red wine, but if someone is bragging about an Austrian wine, chances are it’s a white wine.

Austrian wine regions

The Austrian wine regions are all in the eastern half of the country. Where the temperate climate can produce hot summers and the occasional cold winter, they’re at the start of the basin where the Alps begin to subside.

It’s the perfect mix of alpine weather from the west and warm Mediterranean weather from the south, producing a climate that makes some of the most unique wines in Europe.

Austrian white grapes

Austrian white grapes

Austria has a total of twenty-six different white wine grape varietals that have been classified for production by the Austrian wine board. This includes many international varietals like Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, and Pinot blanc. But my favorite wines are the varietals indigenous to Austria like Grüner Veltliner, Zierfandler, and Rotgipfler.

Of the indigenous white grape varieties, Grüner Veltliner is the most widely planted, with a total of 32.5% of all plantings being Grüner Veltliner.

The uniqueness of Austrian whites

One aspect of Austrian wines that really sets them apart is their nose. The aromas these wines produce are incredible.

These dry wines from Austria offer vibrant acidity and great earthy flavors. The higher-quality wines often have full-bodied, fruity flavors. The most common fruit flavors are stone fruits like peach or apricot, but also citrus flavors of lime or even candied lemon peel.

Five Austrian wines you should try

Austrian wines

Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is the most popular white wine to come out of Austria, and for a good reason. It’s an ancient variety of wine that’s said to date back to Roman times.

Mostly grown in Austria, although Slovakia does have some Grüner Veltliner as well, this white wine is a distinctive blend of acidity and dry crispness. It is a dry wine with flavors of pepper and lime and is a wine that goes well with food.

Because of the high acidity, Grüner Veltliner is best enjoyed within two years of bottling.

Pairs with:

Lighter-style dishes like chicken or seafood would pair well with this refreshing varietal.

Riesling

While not a native to Austria, this German wine is thriving in Austria’s wine regions. The king of white wines is normally grown in the Rhein region of Germany, but since it’s been tried in Austria, it has taken off. Austria is now making some very good Rieslings that are worth trying.

Younger Rieslings are often fruity and flavorful. They’re not overly acidic, allowing them to become complex, elegant whites with aging. You’ll find the common notes of peach and apricot.

Pairs with:

Rieslings are a very food-friendly wine. And usually best enjoyed with summer dishes. Foods like chicken and seafood paid well with Riesling. But also cold cuts and even many Asian flavors.

Roter Veltliner

Roter Veltliner is one of Austria’s older grapes.

It produces light-bodied and bright white wines. Roter Veltliners have a good bit of acidity to them but are generally not as acidic as Grüner Veltliner. The exotic fruit notes of Roter Veltliner set it apart, making it a tasty wine.

Roter Veltliner is mostly planted in lower Austria, which makes this a late ripening grape since the summers in lower Austria tend to be a bit longer. Roter Veltliner is known for being a temperamental grape, but it has the potential to produce some lovely full-bodied, aromatic styles.

Zierfandler

Zierfandler is from Thermenregion used in varietals and blends.

It too produces acidic wines, but these wines tend to have more earthy and mineral flavors. Zierfandlers can be both non-dry and dry-style wines. The aromas often give off notes of spices and nuts.

Zierfandler does have good potential for aging as it is not too acidic.

Pairs with:

For a white. this wine pairs well with heavier dishes. Pork and lighter stews are an excellent pairing, as well as shellfish and Asian flavors.

Rotgipfler

Rotgipfler is a native grape to Austria that is currently being grown in the Thermenregion. This grape variety is mostly used in blends, but that’s changing s many growers are now using it to make aromatic dry whites.

It’s a pale-skinned grape variety that has vibrant aromas and a bright acidity. Rotgipfler often has floral, almond, and spicy notes, which help balance the wine out.

Since it’s not too acidic, this wine has the potential for aging.

Sauvignon Blanc

Austrian Sauvignon Blanc, originally known as Muskatsylvaner, enjoys cult status as it possesses a scent of lemon peel and honeycomb. Throughout the nation, it can be harvested, but the best wines are made in Styria and are attributed to the warmer conditions. “Styria has poor weather conditions and rough soils,” adds Alex Sattler, winemaker for Weingut Sattlerhof in Southsteiermark. The precipitation is high, with cold Alpine wind blowing over the high-altitude vineyards that often reach 1,965 feet. Sauvignon Blanc is a robust variety with unique character in the tough environment.”.

FAQ

Is Austrian white wine good?

Austrian wines are among Europe’s highest quality wines. For wine lovers, you will find well-crafted artisan wines in an excellent range of prices.

What is the most popular wine from Austria?

Zwigelt. It was invented by Prof. Fritz Zweigelt and is today the widest distributed wine in Austria.