10 Jun Red Wines of Austria
Thinking about Austrian wines, it’s probably white wines that most people are familiar with, especially Gruner Veltliner and Riesling. This is not a surprise since Austria wasn’t really making red wine until the mid-1980s when, thanks to new legislation and new quality, they learned about maceration times, malolactic fermentation times and barrels. While international varieties were planted, the Austrians also found great results with indigenous varieties. Since then red wine production has more than doubled and now makes up 1/3 of the wine production in Austria.
A recent wine seminar in Los Angeles was an introduction to the red grapes of Austria, focusing on four of the main red varietals.
A cross between the grapes Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent, Zweigelt was created in 1922. Today 14% of all vineyards in Austria are planted to Zwigelt, making it the most important red grape across the country. Zweigelt is a fertile grape and grows in all of Austria’s wine regions. It can vary from young, no oak wines to bigger wines aged in oak. Zweigelt produces wines that are a violet-reddish color with cherry and mineral notes and tannins.
Also known as Pinot Noir, Blauer Burgunder is also grown throughout Austria, but predominantly in Lower Austria. It makes up 1.4% of vineyards planted. It is a grape that prefers cooler climates and results in a wine with balanced acidity and finesse.
Sankt Laurent (St. Laurent)
This grape is named after St. Lawrence Day (August 10th) which is the day that the grapes begin to change color. Found primarily in the Termenregion and Neusiedlersee, 1.7% of the vineyards are planted to this grape. St. Laurent results in a full-bodied red wine, dark fruit aromas and big tannins. It is a more robust and rustic wine.
With 7% of vineyards planted to Blaufranisch, it can be found primarily in Burgenland. It is a late ripening variety that produces aromatic wines with bright fruit, spice and acidity.
Next time you are selecting wines, try an Austrian red wine.