NWC – 13th March – Austria

2016 Blanc de Blancs, Sepp Moser. I can’t recall many regions that don’t give sparkling wine a go. 100% Chardonnay, I tend to prefer when they stick to their indigenous grapes just for something different. 8 years down the line this was golden in the glass with a rich nose of brioche and honey. The palate had a real texture and was quite evolved, toffee apple and cream soda dominating some citrus fruits that are now in the background. Still enjoyable but perhaps past peak. £26

2023 Setinfeder, Lehensteiner. The first of three Gruner Veltliners. Pear drops, acetone, touch of sweet grape juice. More candy on palate with a better mid/finish of sweet pear and citrus. Simple. £10

2022 Federspeil, Nikolaihof. A muted combination of waxy lemon and lanolin on the nose gave little away. A good intensity of fruit, lemons and pears with stone fruit character emerging too and a pleasant savory finish. Would like to try this a few more years as it has potential but very primary currently. £20

2015 Urgestein Terrassen Smaragd, FX Pichler. A distinctive smell of wet rock and slate and citrus gave way to a serious concentration and intensity in the mouth with lemon, grapefruit, peach and orchard notes. The only of the three gruner’s that had any white pepper, usually a defining feature of the grape. There was some considerable debate though as to the longevity of this wine, I thought it had plenty of time in hand but other felt it had lost its energy and were worried about aging potential. £30

2022 Federspiel, Nikolaihof. From GV to Riesling and for one of the most usually recognisable grapes this wasn’t what I expected. Bruised apple and cider with herbal notes like tarragon. Good balance and acidity but odd, not a ‘correct’ bottle? £22

2014 Ried Loibenberg Federspeil, Knoll. Much more like it. Whilst some were saying they got a bit of classic petrol for me there was more baked apple pie and honey. Perhaps a touch of kerosene. Despite the sweet notes of the nose the front of the palate was dry and powerful. Incredible acidity, slightly dilute vs expectation though in an elegant and enjoyable way. Flavours of granny smith, greengages and other green/unripe fruit. Again, in a good way. Somewhere between German Riesling and Loire Chenin. Lovely stuff. £30

2020 Blaufrankish, Umathum. Curiously several of these wines were under glass stopper rather than cork or screw cap, a new one on me! A transparent ruby in the glass. Straightforward mix of red fruit, cranberry, pomegranate with some green notes on the finish. £15

2013 Blaufrankish, Umathum. A rusty brown colour with the extra 7 years though seemingly more concentrated. Not as expressive on the nose. Some nice cherry fruit at the front of the palate though perhaps a lacking a touch of acidity. For a modest wine it was in good shape and easy drinking if not complex. £15

2020 Haideboden, Umathum. A field blend that contains Cab Suav, Zweigelt, Blaufrankish and Sankt Laurent. A flash of purple on deep ruby colour. It was hard to define its character, plum/damson and red apple but some black and blue fruits also appeared. Some enjoyed it but it split the jury. Put me in mind of a solid cru beaujolais in a rustic style. £21

2013 Heideboden, Renner. No link between the names of this and the last wine as it happens. Another field blend, usually with Merlot but not always. Unfortunately didnt make a note of what was in it this year. The age has seen this develop tertiary interest. A touch menthol and boot polish but also wild strawberry. Lots of cherry here too, surprisingly easy drinking. Quite a lot going on for the £15.

2021 Frauenkirchner, Umathum. A pair of Sankt Laurent’s now from Umathum. First a whiff of grape must followed by perfumed, heady, stewed fruits. Soft and juicy on the front of the palate giving way to lots of sour cherry, finishes a little short. £12

2010 Frauenkirchner von Stein, Sankt Laurent, Umathum. A single vineyard incarnation this time and 14 years down the line we were into some real mature flavours. The nose was smoky, herby and given tinged with burnt orange. The palate still had some cranberry and redcurrant fruit but an umami stock-pot note too. A long finish with a hint of tobacco. Lovely stuff that I would say is at its peak. £40

2003 Gabarinza, Heinrich. Back to the blends with 30% merlot, 40% Zweigelt and 30% Blaufrankish here. The nose was quite dominated by oak, both cedar and vanilla alongside a touch of green which people had thought meant there was some Cab Sauv in the blend. The fruits were quite sweet, plum and blackberry and a little bitter chocolate. Quite an international style, I much preferred the intriguing and subtle Sankt Laurent over this bruiser but it had plenty of admirers in the room. £40

2011 Beerensaulese, Umathum. A blend between gruner and bouvier. Honey and typical botrytis barley sugar nose. A little early grey tea on the finish was pleasant. Good value at £12 but lacking a little acidity, may have drunk better earlier in its life.

2009 Trockenbeerenauslese, Tement. By contrast had retained its acidity excellently, I think chiefly through its grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc. It was still honeyed on the nose but this time with some fragrant orange peel. Some tinned peach syrup lushness was a lovely foil to the depth of sugar. £25

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