It’s Time You Tried Dry Austrian Riesling
The facts and figures that define Austrian Riesling on paper don’t really tell the story of this incredible category. While it represents the third-in-line white grape variety in Austria’s distribution, it shoulders a reputation for being one of the finest and most complex white wines in Europe and around the world.
What Makes Austrian Riesling So Good?
From citrusy and aromatic young wines to complex aged wines, we are fully captivated by the presentation and profile of Austrian Riesling. Slate-like or flinty minerality is laced with floral hints and delicate orchard and citrus notes—this is all held together with what’s often called ‘nervy’ or ‘tension’ characteristics.
Riesling can be vinified from dry to sweet, yet we’ve noticed a general misconception that Austrian Riesling is generally sweet and swig-able. While the dessert-style wines are indeed esteemed, Austrian Riesling as a table wine, particularly the most food friendly, is most often crafted in a dry, crystalline style that is also highly age-worthy. This elegance is what aficionados love about Austrian Riesling, crumbling any misconceptions about refinement. To taste what we mean, look to producers such as Weingut Knoll and Alzinger in the Wachau—two estates with a portfolio that flexes Austria’s Riesling muscle.
How is Austrian Riesling Different?
While Austrian Riesling labels “speak German”, Riesling from Austria has a distinct personality from its neighbors in Germany and Alsace or its overseas counterparts in New York State or Australia. The fact that they're almost always vinified dry stands out as selling point for Austrian wines in comparison to Germany, which still holds a very rich tradition of crafting Riesling that lands at many points along the sweetness scale. Austrian Riesling also tends to have a slightly richer body than that of German Riesling, oftentimes with more tropical or intense fruit notes yet still with an underlying steeliness. Over in France, Alsatian Riesling is known to be more powerful and full with intense aromatics due to its warmer, drier climate, though still full of that characteristic vibrancy that some describe as “electric.”
Witness History In the Making
Evidence of viticulture in Austria dates back to the time of the Romans. The nation’s wine industry boomed in the 1500s, though war and elevated taxes caused a quick demise, followed by the arrival of devastating mildews and phylloxera in the 19th century.
It wasn’t until strict laws and regulations were put into place in the 1990s, in conjunction with producers moving towards red wine and dry white wine production, that the industry found solid international footing. Quality over quantity became the mentality, and soon enough, Austria was back on the wine world’s radar.
Today’s Austria has a finger on the pulse of the most progressive ecological standards, while maintaining an integrity to culture and terroir. The leaders within the industry also understand Austria’s potential within the global market—while Austrian Riesling will never flood in (there’s simply not much of it made) there is a demand for it on the most exciting wine lists in North America and around the world, so get a bottle or two for yourself whenever you can.
Small Production Allocations
We're excited to feature a collection of Austrian Riesling, some of it nearly impossible to obtain—many allocations are nothing more than a few bottles. Austria as a whole produces less than a fourth of California’s output, and with Riesling sitting at little more than 4% of Austria’s vineyards, we're talking a smattering in terms of world supply. Here you can own some to drink now and some to hold. You won’t be disappointed.