The country of Austria is steadily growing in both wine production and quality. The rise in popularity
can be partly attributed to the success of Grüner Veltliner
, the most-planted grape of Austria. As a
landlocked country Austria has a decidedly continental climate. Most Austrian wine comes from the region
of Lower Austria, which happens to be located in the northeast corner of the country, but called as such
because of its lower elevation level. Within Lower Austria are many sub-regions, the most well-known
being Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal. To the south of Lower Austria is Burgenland, known for producing
good reds and sweet whites. Styria is the furthest south, on the border of Slovenia and produces very
little of Austria's total wine production. Wein, or Vienna, is its own region as well, a little enclave
inside of Lower Austria.
Beyond the delicious Grüner Veltliner, Austria's white grape varieties include Riesling, which can make
both sweet and dry wines, Weschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc
and some Weissburgunder, (we know it as Pinot Blanc).
In reds the best grapes are Blaufränkisch, a red grape also found in Germany, which creates wines that are strong
and structured, and usually from Burgenland. Another red coming out of the country is the indigenous crossing (one
of the parents is Blaufrankisch), Zweigelt (zuh-VYE-gelt). This is a big and fruity red, usually best drunk young,
and quite pleasing.
Austrian Wine Laws & Levels
Like Germany, wine quality is determined by the must
weight of the grapes when picked – in other words, the
ripeness level. Austria is fairly strict when it comes to their wine laws. The first level of quality is
Tafelwein, regular table wine and by far the most produced. Next is Landwein, one step up from Table wine
and with more regulations.