Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spectacular Austrian Riesling

I just returned home from the Wine Media Guild of New York's monthly tasting and lunch, this one featuring the Rieslings of Austria. Now, I've written a lot in the past few months about the utter deliciousness of Austria's reds--well-made Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St. Laurent are absolutely irresistible--but the Rieslings are certainly deserving of just as much attention.

Austrian ones differ from their German counterparts in a number of ways, but the major one is the overall dryness of the wines (there are exceptions, of course, but in general, the majority of Austrian Rieslings you're likely to taste will be dry). At the tasting and lunch this afternoon, held, as always, at Felidia restaurant, we were treated to 16 bottlings, all of them dry, all of them eye-opening and beautifully crafted.

I'll be posting pairing highlights and more tasting notes over the next couple of days. For now, however, here are the notes for two of my favorites:

The Prager Riesling Federspiel Steinriegl's nose was all subtle white-blossomed flowers with a background flutter of mushrooms and something quietly smoky. Ample lime-like acidity led the way to a finish that reminded me of nothing so much as hazelnuts. Just fantastic. The Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachstum Bodenstein, on the other hand, was a textural tour de force of amazing length and concentration that still managed to maintain a sense of litheness. It was, indeed, a truly complete wine: Fruit, earth, mineral--everything was present and in perfect harmony.

And the best part is that the wines were even more stunning with food. But more on the pairings later...


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