We're glad to see many wine writers and lovers more often coming around to the idea that the inimitable white wines of Austria generally benefit from some age. Those of us that love a mature Riesling or Grüner Veltliner feel like we're facing a constant uphill battle for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the drinking habits of many Austrians themselves. Vienna and the surrounding wine regions are peppered with taverns where the local wines are knocked back as soon as possible upon release. Here in the States, the aftermath of the "Grüner-craze" of the early '00s still lingers: 9 out of 10 customers picking a GV from our shelf is looking for an easy-going, citrusy chugger (perhaps with a pop-top!) or maybe something just a step or two up; demand for wines with the structure to develop gracefully over time just isn't where it should be.
While we grab as many cellars of well-aged Austrians as we can, stocks seem to be dwindling and we’re forced to figure out creative ways to fulfill our wants. The collection you'll find below is what we've come up with instead: an exploration of four different methods of élevage in Austrian wine.
-- An intentionally lightweight Wachau Grüner Veltliner aged on the lees for 6 months then in bottle for 7 years.
-- A Federspiel Riesling aged in large cask for over a decade without sulfur, just recently bottled and released.
-- A Grüner Veltliner from a top Wagram terroir fermented on the skins and stems in Georgian Amphorae then left to clarify naturally for 8 months before bottling.
-- A blend of 7 grapes including the barely-known Sämling, fermented and raised in old, neutral barrels for 2 years before being held back in bottle for another 2 before release.
Needless to say, these wines have nothing to do with the liter of Grüner Veltliner that you may have drained a little too quickly at the barbeque last summer. These are heady, complex wines with savory, earthy flavors at the fore and fruit and mineral tones singing backup. Supply, sadly, is short across the board, so let us know as soon as you can if you’re interested. -jfr