Yesterday I met Carlo Huber of The Austrian Wines-–Darcy and Huber Selections–at Alphabet City Wine Co. for a speed-date tasting of wines from Vienna. It was an afternoon that originated with my first sip of the 2008 Weiner Gemischter Satz Sommeregg Reserve Jutta Ambrositsch, at a blind/live-blog tasting at 67 Wine. Stupendous on many levels–it’s imported and distributed by The Austrian Wines (and loved by Alice Feiring)–this Gemischter Satz (a white field blend in which–in this case 20–varietals are fermented together) stirred some expectations–a few of which were met.
Vienna, or Wien, is one of four wine regions in Austria, that also includes Weinland Österreich, Steierland, and Bergland Österreich. According to Hurber, the 1650 acres of vineyards within these city limits were threatened fifteen years ago, when the Russians came to Vienna looking to buy up the best land. Still reeling and redefining following from the infamous anti-freeze (or diethylene glycol) scandal in 1985, the vignerons and vintners were told by the city to either improve the quality of the wines or part with the land. This, in addition to the strict reforms that followed in 1985, has put Austria, and Vienna, back on the world wine map.
Not surprisingly, the best wine presented that day was one made by Jutta Ambrositsch, her 2008 Gemischter Satz, Sommeregg Alte Reben. Made from seven varietals, it’s steely pale yellow green in color, with a clean mineral finish. In the mouth, green pear fruit is followed by citrus-lime acidity, which blends with the minerality for a neat finish.
Also worth mentioning is Weingut Christ’s 2008 Gemischter Satz, which shows apricot and minerality, with a softer acidity that’s integrated and not puckering.
Christ’s 2007 Gemischter Satz Bisamberg Alte Reben, is made from seven varietals grown on 65 year old vines, and aged for six months in new Austrian oak. Staring tropical fruits like lychee, mango, and starfruit, the GS Bisamberg Alte Reben has a minerally spine and a pepper spice finish. Elegantly structured and not over-oaked, here, the oak showed itself in the body of the wine, which was fuller, and in the softened acidity.
Topping off the whites with a couple of reds, we ended with 2007 Hajszan Wien Blaufraenkisch (40%)-Zweigelt (%60). Ruby in color with notes of blueberry, pomegranate, and earth, followed by a slight spice finish, it possesses an acidity that’s integrated with the wine’s earthiness, like rainwater absorbed by the ground. Aged for three months in Austrian oak, it’d pair well with a handful of those Georgian dishes that include pomegranate seeds.
Thanks to Carlo for the wines and cheers to Keith Beavers for hosting!