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Austria: Austrian Riesling

Austrian Riesling?
Although Austria is currently producing some of the world’s best dessert wines, they tend to be released in tiny quantities, and are fairly expensive. Of greater interest for every day drinking would be the new generation of dry whites, many of which are both world class and widely distributed. While Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are undoubtedly the classics, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are showing promise.

Most dry whites come from Lower Austria, the region that has become closely associated with these styles. Confusingly, Lower Austria is actually the region in the northeast corner of the country around Vienna. The Lower Austrian sub-regions of Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal are on or near the Danube River to the west of Vienna, and figure most prominently in white wine production. Dry wines are emphasized in the Wachau in particular, and they are classified in three different quality grades in ascending order of ripeness: Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smaragd. The finest Rieslings tend to show weight, concentration, and sophistication with an austere character that would make an excellent foil for seafood and shellfish in particular. They have very little in common with German renditions of the grape.

As for Grüner Veltliner, it may not be unique to Austria, but it belongs to Austria the way Zinfandel belongs to California. It accounts for 36-percent of Austrian vine plantings, and hence produces the bulk of Austria's table wines. Its character can be crisp and refreshing though it tends to be richer and spicier than Riesling when it is at its finest. It is quite possibly the most versatile and distinctive of Austrian wines. In noting the differences between Grüner Veltliner and Riesling Hugh Johnson said that to "compare it with Riesling is like comparing a wild flower with a finely bred garden variety in which scent, color, size, and form have been studied and improved for many years." Often with an exotic herbal note, Grüner Veltliner would make an ideal companion to herb-accented pork or poultry dishes.

Premier Producers
Weingut Allram (Strasser Gaisberg)
Weinbau Fam. Brandl (Exklusiv Novemberlese)
Bründlmayer (Zöbinger Heiligenstein)
Sighardt Donabaum (Brandstatt Select)
Weingut Donabaum (Alte Stöcke Smaragd)
Eichinger-Allram (Heilegenstein)
Freie Weingärtner (Spitzer 1,000-Eimer Berg Smaragd, Weissenkirchner Achleiten Smaragd, Exceptional Reserve)
Franz Hirtzberger (Hochrain Smaragd, Singerriedel Smaragd)
Holzapfel (Ried Vorderseiber)
Hutter (Ried Loibenberg Smaragd, Selection LM Smaragd)
Josef Jamek, Joching (Freiheit Smaragd)
Josef Jurtschitsch, Sonnhof (Vom Urgestein Alte Reben Trocken)
Emmerich Knoll (Loibenberg Smaragd, Ried Schutt Smaragd)
Thomas Leithner (Steinhaus, Privat)
Mantlerhof (Wieland Gedersdorf)
Markowitsch (Steindl Spatlese)
IlseMazza (Smaragd)
Ludwig Neumayer (Der Wein vom Stein)
Nigl (Senftenberger Piri Privat, Senftenberger Höchacker, Goldberg)
Nikolaihof (Vom Stein Smaragd, Steiner Hund Spätlese)
FX Pichler (Loibner Steinertal Smaragd, Loibner Berg Smaragd)
Weingut Prager (Ried Klaus Smaragd, Ried Steinriegl Smaragd)
Schloss Gobelsburg (Alte Reben, Kammerner Gaisberg)
Josef Schmid (Priorissa)
Johann Topf (Zöbinger Ried Heiligenstein)
Undhof Salomon (Kremser Kögl, Pfaffenberg)
Franz Zottl (Ried Achleiten Smaragd)

Great Producers
Kurt Angerer (Lengenfelder Donatus)
Bründlmayer (Zöbinger Heiligenstein Lyra)
Dinstlgut Loiben (Loibner Loibenberg "L")
Peter Dolle (Strasser Gaisberg)
Sighardt Donabaum (Spielberg Smaragd)
Freie Weingärtner (Loibner Loibenberg Smaragd, Dürnsteiner Kellerberg Smaragd, Spitzer Singerriedel Smaragd)
Franz Hirtzberger (Steinterrassen Federspiel)
Josef Jurtschitsch, Sonnhof (Zöbinger Heiligenstein)
Kirchmayr (Solist)
Ilse Mazza (Ried Achleiten Auslese)
Sepp Moser (Riede Gebling Select)
Ludwig Neumayer (Ikon)
Nigl (Kremser Kremsleiten)
Nikolaihof (Baumgarten)
FX Pichler (Dürnsteiner Kellerberg Smaragd, Loibner Oberhauser Smaragd, Von den Terrassen Smaragd)
Franz Proidl (Senftenberger Ehrenfels, Senftenberger Pfeningberg)
Johann Topf (Strasser Ried Wechselberg)
Dr. Wolfgang Unger (Ried Silberbügel Reserve)
Ewald Walzer (Kremser Gebling)
Alois Zimmerman (Kremser Krax’n)

Dependable Producers
Familie Bauer (Grossriedenthaler Goldberg)
Bründlmayer (Zöbinger Heiligenstein Alte Reben)
Freie Weingärtner (Viesslinger Ried Bruck Federspiel)
Weinberghof Fritsch (Perfektion, Mordthal)
Weingut Hiedler (Zobinger Heiligenstein)
Weingut Hirsch (Zobinger Gaisberg Alte Reben)
Hermann Huber (Strasser Gaisberg)
Weingut Jäger (Ried Steinriegl Smaragd)
Josef Jamek, Joching (Ried Klaus Smaragd)
Emmerich Knoll (Loibnerhof Federspiel & Smaragd)
Loimer (Steinmassl)
Erich Machherndl (Wosendorf Kollmütz Smaragd)
Ilse Mazza (Federspiel)
R&A Pfaffl (Terrassen Sonnleiten)
Mayer am Pfarrplatz (Ried Pressen Vienna Classic)
Franz Schneider (Grossriedenthal Kabinett)
Karl Stierschneider (Achleiten Smaragd)
Richard Thiel (Gumpoldskirchner Das Beste vom Riesling)
Dr. Wolfgang Unger (Ried Silberbügel Classic)
Wieninger (Select)
Winzer Krems (Privat Kellermeister Kremser Kremsleiten)
Weingut Zahel (Riede Leiten)
Familie Zull (Kabinett)

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