Austrian wine

Refreshing and sweet wines

Austrian wines are quite similar to German wines. Especially because there is a wide range of white wines, from dry and sharp to sweet and very aromatic. They are known for their high quality and for being traditionally made with native or international varieties that are well suited to the area. This is why Austrian wines have a particular style that makes them unique and worth discovering.

Vineyards and grape varieties

Most Austrian vineyards are planted with white varieties.

The Grüner Veltliner variety is the one that predominates Austrian viticulture, occupying approximately 35% of the country's vineyard area. Wines made with Grüner Veltliner have high acidity, medium body, notes of green apple and citrus as well as vegetal, spicy and mineral notes. Other white grapes used to make wine here are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Finally, there are the native Welschriesling, Rotgipfler and Zierfandler varieties, which are mixed together south of Vienna to make a particularly strong wine, called Gumpoldskirchner.

The most common red varieties are Zweigelt, Portugieser and Blaufränkisch, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Austrian red wines are fresh and delicate.

Austrian wine regions

The main wine-producing regions of Austria are SatzBurgenland, Styria, Wien and Niederösterreich with the Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal sub-regions. Wachau is perhaps where some of the highest quality wines come from.

Niederösterreich: this is the largest area. It is home to about 67,000 ha of vineyards. It encompasses the Wienviertel DAC, Kamptal DAC, Kremstal DAC, Wachau, Wagram, Traisental DAC, Carnuntum and Thermenregion.

-Wien: includes the Wiener Gemischter sub-region. The vineyard area is about 1,500ha.

-Burgenland: has about 32,200 ha of vineyards. This area includes Eisenberg DAC, Leithaberg DAC, Neusiedlersee DAC and Mittelburgenland DAC.

-Styria: made up of about 10,500 ha of vineyard. The sub-regions here are Weststeiermark, Sudsteiermark and Sudoststeiermark.

Most of Austria’s vines lie on south-facing terraces bordering the Danube, flat fields and mountains, or on the hills surrounding Vienna.

Austrian wine classification

Austrian wine classification is fairly complex. In some ways it is similar to the German classification system.

Classified by quality there is:

Tafelwein: table wine.

-Landwein: wine from a specific region.

-Qualitätswein: a quality wine where the must comes from a single wine region. Within the Qualitätswein classification, there are the DACs (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) that specify regions as well as varieties, minimum alcohol content, minimum KMW (must weight), yields…

These wines include:

-Kabinettwein: where the must contains a minimum of 17º KMW and a maximum of 19º KMW. No sugar has been added to the must. The total alcohol content must be a maximum of 12.7%.

-Prädikastwein: includes quality wines with specific attributes. Grapes must be more mature and there are also more requirements for grape harvesting. The label must specify the harvest and the grape varieties used.

Two-thirds to three-quarters of Austria’s wine production is classified as Qualitätswein.

There are also classifications within the Prädikatwein group, also known as quality wines with specific attributes. This classification takes into account the type of grape maturation and production method as well as the KMW levels:

-Spätlese: (minimum 19º KMW) made from late harvest grapes. Its quality places it between Kabinett and Auslese wines.

-Auslese: (minimum 21º KMW) light and sweet late harvest wines.

-Beerenauslese BA: (minimum 25º KMW) wine made with selected grapes affected by noble rot. This is a very sweet wine.

-Eiswein: (minimum 25º KMW) ice wine. The grapes are left to freeze on the vine and are harvested when they have frozen. This is a sweet wine.

-Strohwein: a “straw wine” made from over-ripe grapes that are dried out on straw mats.

-Ausbruch: (minimum 27º KMW) traditional sweet wine.

-Trockebeerenauslese TBA: (minimum 30º KMW) wine made from grapes affected by noble rot.

Some of these are really spectacular. They are generally cheaper than their German counterparts.

Austrian wine producers

Some of the most prominent Austrian winemakers are Gut Oggau and the Kracher winery in Burgenland, Weingut Bründlmayer in Kamptal and Weingut Alzinger in Wachau. There is also Schloss Gobelsburg in Lower Austria.

Were you already familiar with the unique characteristics of Austrian wines? We would recommend giving them a try!

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Heinrich St. Laurent 2020

Austria Burgenland (Burgenland)

Light and full of nuances
Heinrich St. Laurent 2020
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Muster Graf Morillon 2020

Austria Weinland Österreich (Styria)

Structured and with a marked mineral character
Muster Graf Morillon 2020
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Peternell Hijo de Puszta 2022

Austria Burgenland (Weinland)

A tasty Austrian rosé that will grab you by the scruff of the neck
Peternell Hijo de Puszta 2022
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