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Neuburger - Sauvignon Blanc - Blauer Portugieser

Neuburger - Sauvignon Blanc - Blauer Portugieser

For most winemakers in Austria, Blauer Portugieser is a filler, grape, used in blends or for house wines. We don't buy these, we buy from people who give the grape the same attention as the more popular grapes and make delicious wines. Like a lot of "neglected" grapes, it is simply lack of attention in planting or winemaking that makes so many of the wines simple. Just like Swiss Chasselas, Blauer Portugieser vines give prolific yields and has low acidity. Just like Swiss Chasselas, Portugieser wines were meant to be drunk in their youth and considered not suited to long-term cellaring. And - no surprise here - just as Swiss Chasselas there's no reason they cannot age magnificently with proper winemaking, or make truly impressive wines. A medium ruby colour with a fruity, grape juice kind of nose. There are also some aromas of plum and red cherry. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied with low tannins and with moderately low acidity. On the palate, it tastes of grape with some cherry and raspberry fruit. Very smooth.

According to legend, Neuburger was fished out of the Danube in the 1860's and planted in the Wachau. It is capable of making a dry and elegant wine as well as great late-harvest sweet wines.

Think of Neuburger as having the gusto of a clean Chardonnay, the depth of a dry Chenin Blanc with a bit of the snap of a Muscadet. It often produces wines that are soft, full bodied and have a balanced, nutty aroma.

Relatively easy to cultivate and not particularly demanding on soil types, although it does best on primary rock.

Neuburger is a popular heurige wine. It has a natural depth and diversity of flavour, but due to its ease has often been taken for granted and used in blends and entry level wines. 

Obviously when someone does take it seriously, it is a lot more interesting.

I've been told the best are in the Wachau, but in my tastings it has always been winemakers in other regions who show impressive efforts. The Hofbauer 2007 is impressive 10 years on, and the skin contact version from Kiss shows the complexity of the grape.

DNA profiling has shown that the grape is a crossing of Roter Veltliner and Sylvaner.

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Although popular for its generous harvests, the variety has poor disease resistance (mildew and grey rot are a particular concern) and requires careful maintenance in the vineyard to make good wine.

Despite the suggestion of the grape's name of having a Portuguese origin, ampelographers have uncovered little evidence to suggest that this is the case. It is often said that the Austrian, Johann von Fries, brought it from Oporto to his estates near Voslau in 1772. Until recently and for that reason, it was called Kékoportó in Hungary. There is evidence to indicate that by the 19th century, the grape was widely established in Austria and that it was then that cuttings were brought to Germany.

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