Austria’s wines go from strength to strength
The Austrian Wine Marketing Board is reporting that this year’s harvest was of excellent quality, with good volume. But many of today’s wine drinkers still have memories of Austrian wine that conjure up a different story. Overproduction, a wine industry stuck in a rut and, of course, a contamination scandal all served to create a poor image in the minds of consumers. But for some years now Austrian wine has been on the up. In fact, there is so much good, innovative and new wine being produced that Stephen Brook has needed to update The wines of Austria, with a second edition out this month.
“Today the quality of Austrian wine, in all its manifestations, has been fully vindicated,” says Brook. “Few would deny that quality is extremely high – overall the quality of winemaking is impeccable”. Several factors have helped to turn the industry around. As with its close neighbour, Germany, climate change has altered growing conditions, often favourably, allowing producers to diversify their offering. And the glycol scandal may have had a positive effect – it woke up those producers who had become set in their ways, encouraging a reconsideration of their craft in both vineyard and cellar. Wishing to avoid scandal in the future, the industry put in place measures designed to make quality checks more stringent and created an appellation system.
Having first enjoyed it in the 1970s, Brook has experienced the extreme lows of Austrian wine as well as seeing the country rebuild its wine production. Much has changed just in the four years since the publication of the first edition. New producers, new wines and newly fashionable wine styles, such as amber wines, are all covered in this comprehensively updated book. Many wines have been tasted up to the 2018 vintage. Brook’s refreshingly honest reviews make it easy to see who is making great wines today, who the newcomers to keep an eye on are – and who may need to change tack in coming vintages.
After a short chapter on the history of Austrian wine Brook provides details on the varieties grown in Austria. He then takes the 16 major wine regions in turn, explaining the terroir and detailing any significant vineyards before focusing on the most prominent and interesting producers. Although the growing area is less than half that of Bordeaux, Austrian producers are creating a huge variety of wines. The white wines made along the Danube in Niederösterreich rival those of Burgundy, Burgenland is renowned for its botrytised sweet wines and Steiermark has its own unique rosé in Schilcher. Even the capital, Vienna, contains a significant number of vineyards, from which wines are made to slake the thirst of locals and tourists who visit the winery-run inns known as Heurigen. There are also amber wines, Sekts and pétillants naturels to experience, as well as an increasing number of red wines. The book concludes with a summary of vintages from 1963 to 2018.
This meticulous book is an essential addition to the library of anybody selling, studying or interested in Austrian wine.
About the author
Stephen Brook is a distinguished author of numerous books on wine, especially on the wines of Bordeaux and California, and an award-winning wine journalist. He writes regularly for international wine magazines and has been a contributing editor for Decanter since 1996. Stephen is in demand as a guest judge at wine competitions around the world.
The wines of Austria was published by Infinite Ideas on 2 December 2019.
ISBN: 9781913022075, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 324pp, colour plates, maps.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from firstname.lastname@example.org; 07802 443957
Buy The wines of Austria