Three gems from a great year for Austrian winemakers
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.