GT WINE was thrilled to attend Austria’s revered biannual trade fair VieVinum in May, the first time since 2018 the three-day event has been able to proceed. Organised by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, the event, held across two floors at Vienna’s grand Hofburg Palace and featuring 480 of the country’s best producers, was a truly world-class affair. Around 900 wine professionals from around the globe congregated to celebrate the very best Austrian wine (and yes, that means much more than just grüner veltliner!).
It’s an interesting time for Austrian wine in Australia: we are by no means at the top of the list of biggest importers – and much of the production is consumed domestically. But with our preference here for similar styles of wine, as well as their relative affordability when compared to quality wines from Germany and France, there is a lot worth exploring.
“Austrian grüner veltliner and riesling are and should be popular with the Australian public, as the wines are dry and somehow relatable,” explains Austrian wine importer Andreas Puhar of Enoteca Sydney. “There is a sense of safety to receive a dry wine in comparison to Alsace and Germany. However, [in Australia] we’re nowhere near the impact these wines have in the US or UK, where a serious wine list is unthinkable without them.”
“Both Austrian riesling and grüner veltliner are unique and at the top level, are in the same league as any top white from Burgundy, the Loire or Germany. The difference is the size of production; the bigger countries simply have more wine.”
While our immediate association with Austrian wine is almost always a white variety, there’s a strong case for traditional method sparkling and deep, mineral-driven reds too: varieties such as zweigelt and blaufrÃ¤nkisch are not only unique to Austria and its neighbours to the east (Hungary, Slovakia) but offer delicious and equally unique drinking, too.
“The lighter reds from Thermenregion were a great discovery for me,” says Louella Mathews, group sommelier for Trippas White Group. “Particularly the grape variety saint laurent which was giving cru Beaujolais vibes.”
“The natural wine scene is also growing – particularly from Burgenland and Styria – so expect to see wines from these areas show up in natural-focused wine bars.”