ABCs of Austrian Wine

ABCs of Austrian Wine

From Austria to Zweigelt, learn the ABCs of Austrian wine.

Austria has been producing wine since the time of the Roman Empire. Despite scandal and setbacks in the 1980s, they have re-emerged as a wine region to be taken seriously.

Blaufränkisch is one of the signature red grapes of Austria. It is grown mostly in the eastern portion of the country where Austria borders Hungary. The wine is dark in color with raspberry, blueberry, cherry, white pepper, and mineral flavors.

Carnuntum is one of the only subregions of Niederösterriech that is known for growing red grapes, mainly Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt.

DAC (Districus Austriae Controllus) is the appellation system for Austria, similar to the French AOC system. There are currently 9 DAC regions in Austria.

Eisenberg is a DAC region in Burgenland known for its iron-rich soils and for Blaufränkisch wines with a distinct spice flavor.

Federspiel is the mid-level categorization of wines from the Wachu, where they have created their own wine categorization to set themselves apart. The ratings are based on the naturally achieved alcohol level of the resulting dry wine. The least ripe grapes will achieve the least amount of alcohol. Ferderspiel level wines fall between 11.5 and 12.5% alcohol. The lower categorization, called Steinfeder, is for wine below 11.5% alcohol. Smargard wines are considered the best because they have been able to achieve the highest level of ripeness, and are above 12.5% alcohol.

Grüner Veltliner is the dominant white grape of Austria. It is mostly grown in the Niederösterriech region. Typical flavors include white pepper, lemon, lime, grapefruit and herbs. Its herbaceous quality and vibrant acidity make it a great wine to go with hard-to-pair foods like asparagus and artichokes.

Höpler is a family owned winery south east of Vienna, on the western banks of Lake Neusiedl. The grapes are planted on the southeast-facing slopes, in a warm, humid microclimate where they can flourish.

Infertile soil is the hallmark of the wine growing regions of Austria. Soil types include sand, gravel, loess (a combination of clay, sand and silt), and gneiss (a layered metamorphic rock).

Jost Höpler and his son Christof are the winemakers behind Höpler wines, including Pannonica White and Pannonica Red.

Kamptal and Kremstal are slightly south of Wachu and are two of the three DAC regions that are approved to grow both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Landwein is a mid-level wine classification between Tafelwein and Qualitätswein. Wines with this classification are made from grapes that all come from the same wine region and are slightly riper than those used for Tafelwein.

Mittelburgenland is a DAC located in the Burgenland region. Its proclivity for Blaufränkisch has led to the region being dubbed “Blaufränkischland”.

Niederösterriech (or “Lower Austria” since it is on the lower part of the Danube River) is the most important of the four main wine regions in Austria. It surrounds Vienna and consists of eight different subregions: Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal, Traisental, Wagram, Weinviertel, Carnuntum and Thermenregion. The other main wine regions are Burgenland, Styria, and Vienna.

Otto the Great’s defeat of the Magyars in 955 created a period of stability in Austria that led to the expansion of wine growing beyond just the church. The general public started to become winegrowers and winemakers as well during this time.

Prädikatswein is a wine classification that is a step above Qualitätswein. This classification has its own set of subclassifications (similar to the German system) based on the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. This level of wine also has additional restrictions including delaying the release of the wines until at least the first of May, the Spring after they were harvested.

Qualitätswein is a high-level wine classification that is a step above Landwein. These wines are made from grapes that all come from the same wine district and are riper than those used for Landwein.

Reserve wines have been aged for longer periods of time and have at least 13% alcohol.

Styria is one the four main wine regions and is located in the southeastern portion of the country along the alpine border with Slovenia. The cool climate is ideal for producing Chablis-like Chardonnays. This region is also known for producing high quality Sauvignon Blanc.

Tafelwein is the lowest wine classification in the Austrian system and is not often exported. At this level, the grapes have only the minimum amount of sugar at harvest and the resulting wine may contain juice from grapes of multiple wine regions.

Ungeld is the term for the wine tax that began in the mid-1300s as Vienna became a hub for wine trading in the region.

Vienna is the capital of Austria and is one of the four main wine regions. Over 1500 acres of vines are planted within the city limits.

Wachu is the most important subdistrict of Niederösterriech, producing some of the highest quality and most recognized Austrian wines.

(e)Xpect to be impressed with Austrian wines!

You should definitely give Austrian wines a try!

Zweigelt is another signature red grape of Austria. It is a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. It is a medium body wine with grape and black cherry flavors.

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