Top Austrian wines: from Grüner Veltiner to Riesling

Wine news

Fri 15 Jan 2021

There are those who love Austrian wine, and those who haven’t yet discovered it – but everyone remembers the scandal of the 1980s that has affected this ancient winemaking country for a generation or more, when it was discovered that bulk wine producers had been adding diethylene glycol (a component of antifreeze) to their wines in order to give them mouthfeel and sweetness. Austria is finally ridding itself of this reputation, which is a wonderful thing because it produces some of the world’s most sublime white wines.

Austria’s wine-growing regions hug the country’s eastern borders with the Czech Republic at the northern end to Slovenia in the south. The climate is continental, with hot summers and very cold winters; during the ripening season days are long, hot and dry, and nights are cold – the holy grail for Austrian winemakers striving for acidity and fresh aromas.

And acidity and freshness, and delicious bright fruit flavours, are what Austrian wine delivers, in a package that rarely comes in higher than about 12.5% ABV. Grüner Veltiner, which covers a spectrum from bone-dry and mineral to ripe and lusciously sweet, is Austria’s signature grape but its climate is perfect for Riesling, and there are also some excellent Pinot Noirs to be found.

Our judges’ descriptors perfectly summarise the delights on offer: “expressive”, “intense”, “poised”, “harmonious”, “exuberant”. Each one of these wines is a superb expression of what this unique terroir can produce. If you already love Austrian wine then you need no convincing. If you haven’t discovered it yet, this is where you start.

Ried Kirchberg Grüner Veltliner 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-1.png
Weingut Hirtl 

A generous example with a juicy, fruit-driven core. Notes of white lily, blossom and honeysuckle support the fresh apricot and citrus flavours. Characterful with great length and a sweet, peppery finish. 12.5%

Weingut Stift Klosterneuburg

A sophisticated example with an expressive peach, apricot and green apple character. Great complexity with balanced acidity and a long, bright finish. 13%

Blauer Zweigelt 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-3.png
Domäne Baumgartner

An intense medley of ripe black fruits, kirsch and sweet spices. Vibrant acidity on the palate with lifted herbal notes. 13.5%

Grüner Veltliner 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-4.png
Lenz Moser

A poised offering with a core of peach, lime and blossom notes. The palate is balanced with great acidity and mouth-watering spice, which carries through onto the lingering finish. 12.5%

Ära Grüner Veltliner 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-5.png
Peter Mertes KG Weinkellerei

A youthful and harmonious offering with a stone fruit core and bright, sherbet notes. The palate is light with refreshing zesty character and a touch of minerality. 13%

Fundstück Reserve Grüner Veltliner 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-6.png
W. Baumgartner

A warming spiced ginger backbone encased in ribbons of lemon curd, candied apple and light stone fruit flavours. Delicious with a burst of citrus-fuelled acidity and a long finish. 13.5%

Ried Dechant Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner 2018iwsc-top-austrian-wines-7.png
Weingut Rabl

An exuberant example with rich tropical fruit and lemon curd notes on the nose. The palate has a solid, ripe, citrus character with good acidity and a creamy texture on the finish. 13.5%

Ried Käferberg Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner 2018iwsc-top-austrian-wines-8.png
Weingut Rabl

A fresh, lemon-focused example with mineral notes and stone fruit. A touch of creaminess on the palate balances the bright acidity. 13.5%

Ried Schenkenbichl Alte Reben Riesling 2018iwsc-top-austrian-wines-9.png
Weingut Rabl

A refined offering with an elegant mineral and smoke character. Notes of peach and lemon peel run throughout with great finesse and precision. A refreshing style. 13%

Selection Zweigelt 2019iwsc-top-austrian-wines-10.png
Lenz Moser

Juicy strawberry, cherry and peach on the nose, with freshness and lift. The palate is driven by red fruit. Charming with some personality. 11.5%

Reserve Pinot Noir 2018iwsc-top-austrian-wines-11.png
Weingut Zantho

A refined and complex example with a core of ripe forest berries and a touch of savoury minerality. Dark, vibrant and balanced. 13.5%