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Riesling - Weinviertel

Riesling - Weinviertel

The Weinviertel, or "Wine Quarter" is a large region to the north of Vienna extending as far as the border with the Czech republic. For decades it was the edge of the Western World, right next to the Iron Curtain!

Although this is the largest winegrowing region in Austria, with more than 15,000 hectares of vineyards, it doesn't really seem like wine country as you travel around it, as it is also the breadbasket of Vienna. Vines are scattered on the hillsides and in the most favourable areas amongst other crops - lots of wheat, fruit trees and everything from asparagus to strawberries.

It's a fascinating region architecturally with mediaeval gems of towns such as Retz, with its stunning Baroque centre and miles of underground wine cellars. The region has many more charming wine villages and towns, many with "Kellergassen", streets lined with cellars resembling stuccoed houses. Interesting towns include Eggenburg, Falkenstein and Poysdorf, possibly Austria's most picturesque wine town.

In 2003, Weinviertel was the first region to adopt a new classification system, "Weinviertel DAC", where DAC stands for "Districtus Austriae Controllatus". This is a bit like the French AOC system.

Many would say Riesling is the best wine grape in the world. It is certainly one of the Great Whites.

German Riesling (Mosel)

The Mosel is Riesling country at its best, exquisite wines that are full of fruit.

Vineyards cling to the banks of the river. The steepest valley slopes make the best wine, and mankind has found the best spots over the centuries. The region has many unique sites and styles. In general, however, the wines are characterised by a minerality and citrus acidity derived from the slate soils. The fruitiness is more exotic and, with age, come the mineral notes often tagged as "petrol" (to me, it always smells more like beeswax).

Our reference for the Mosel is Patrick Philipps in Graach. Taste his Auslese and know this is what Riesling should be. In Erden we have found perfectionist mineralist Schmitges. Both Philipps and Schmitges make a full range of fabulous wines but, as a rule of thumb, one has a perfectly balanced edge on the sweet wines and the other's perfectionism shines in the dry wines. Further upriver the Kollmann-Becker family offers a great introduction to German wines.

Austrian Riesling

Riesling is fussy about where it is planted but it thrives on many outstanding sites in Austria. Fine Rieslings are typically dry and substantial, yet have a raciness and delicacy that is second to none. The minerality in these wines is also very distinctive. A peachier, floral side of Riesling often comes out.

We have many fine Rieslings from Austria. Wachau's Leo Alzinger is legendary world wide. The Waldschütz Rieslings are possibly the best wine for your money in our entire catalogue. Diem's Rosenhügel is a masterpiece of subtlety. Arndorfer gives it a touch of oak. Buchegger makes warm filling Rieslings - and there are a few more to explore.

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Riesling wines can be highly aromatic with apple, peach and pear at the forefront, mixed with delicate floral undertones and often honey and spice on the nose. On the palate, Rieslings echo the apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. Rieslings tend to pick up a noticeable "minerality" from their native soils.

Riesling, through DNA data, appears to be a cross between Gouais Blanc and an unknown relative of Savagnin. Riesling seems to have originated on the north bank of the Rhine in Germany where we find its first mention in a document dated 1435.

Up to the early 20th century Riesling and Sylvaner were often confused with each other. If you buy an ancient bottle you can't be sure which it might be. After the 60s, you're OK.

Austrian Wine Regions

Burgenland

Burgenland

Big reds, superlative dessert wines and natural treasures.

Carnuntum

Carnuntum

Red wine terroir and ancient roman cities

Kamptal

Kamptal

Elegant and spicy wines on hills north of the Danube.

Kremstal

Kremstal

Mineral Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.

Leutschach in Styria

Styria

Impossible rolling hills, world class whites and unique rosé.

Thermenregion

Thermenregion

Directly south of Vienna. Serious red wines and characterful whites.

Traisental

Traisental

Wine terraces South of the Danube. Amazing value wines.

Vienna

Vienna

Vienna - the only capital which is its own wine region.

Wachau

Wachau

Some of the best whites on the planet.

Wagram

Ancient rock and modern winemaking.

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Weinviertel

North of Vienna - the home of classic Grüner Veltliner.

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