Austria has been on my radar for a long time. I didn’t know much about the country, other than the fact that some scandal occurred in the 80s
regarding some illegal additive. After some time working in the wine industry, I’ve learned that scandal is pretty much a common thread, and most countries have had their share of drama. As a result of the scandal, Austria self-imposed some of the strictest regulations for wine production.
Most of the country’s vineyards are in the eastern half of the country, since the west is too mountainous and cold for grapevines. The country excels with white grape varieties like Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, but its calling card is the native, Grüner Veltliner. The wines are flinty, steely, herbaceous, and clean. The reds are also tasty, produced from grapes Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, Blauer Portugieser, and Blauburger.
For an introduction to the reds, I recommend trying Rosi Schuster’s Zweigelt 2009. The wine is produced in the region, Burgenland, bordering with Hungary in the east. The wine is beefy and stinky with aromas of cowhide mixed with ripe plums, blackberries, and herbs. It made me think of a cross between Pinot Noir and Syrah. It’s reminiscent of a nicely structured Rhône Valley red, where flavors are blends of smoky meats and mushrooms. The color is rather dark from what I’ve read about the grape. Perhaps the skins aren’t as light as they’re said to be, or perhaps a long time in oak adds some of this color. Either way, the wine is a pleasant red that is great for an outdoor tailgate, or with some lighter pasta and grain dishes.