Austrian wines are of wonderful value for the quality that’s on offer and have been great for so long—

I’ve been banging the drum for Austrian wine so loudly for so long that I sometimes worry my enthusiastic zeal for their liquid loveliness turns me into Animal, the drummer from the Muppets.

I’ll gladly live with that, because Austrian wines have been so great for so long, it baffles me why they are not household names by now.

Red and whites are generally pure and fruity, tending towards elegance rather than beefy boldness – and they remain, from a consumer point of view, wonderful value for the quality that’s on offer.

But the secret is out. Last year, for the first time ever, Austrian wines surpassed the 180 million Euro mark, rising an incredible nine per cent in value, thanks in part to a bumper 2018 harvest.

To give you some context on the rising appeal of Austrian wines, in 2009 they flowed to 64 countries. In 2019 they reached more than 100 with sales in the UK accounting for a mere 2.77 per cent. Time to up our game and bag our stash – while we can.

For reds, look for the dark depth of Blaufränkisch and cheery cherry-like fragrance of Zweigelt. And if you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, you simply must taste the similarly charismatic elegance of Austrian St Laurent – try The Wine Society’s Ebner-Ebenauer Alte Reben St Laurent 2015 (£20).

As for whites, I’ve been pouring Grüner Veltliner on Saturday Kitchen for as long as I can remember, and with almost every supermarket delivering good value own label examples with zingy exuberance and subtle spice, it’s easy to get your hands on.

Stunning with shellfish, ace with asparagus, which is coming into season, and a brilliant all-round aperitif, Grüner is a dynamo of deliciousness.

And when I think of Riesling, I reach for my invisible drum kit because Riesling may be Austria’s best kept secret of all. It delivers exceptional purity as well as a wealth of diverse regional characteristics – for a bargain grab Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Austrian Riesling 2018 (12.5%) for £8.75.

Or splash out on one of the best white wines I’ve tasted in the last few months: Salomon Undhof Ried Kögl 2018 (13%) £19.95 from Lea & Sandeman. It’s a flashing blade of mineral purity – imagine frosted lime juice with a twist of lychee.

For 20 quid it is worth every penny – a special occasion glass of gorgeousness for the wine lover in your life. I’m buying a case of it to tuck away. As Kermit himself so wisely put it: ‘I think the best way to find happiness is to stop looking so hard.’

That could not be more true of wines like this which bang the drum so beautifully for Austrian wine’s startling splendour.

OLLY’S PICK OF THE BUNCH

VIENNESE WHIRL: Taste the Difference Zweigelt 2017 (13%) £8 Sainsbury’s. Silky as a black cherry in a ball gown – light, juicy and lovely red.

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE!: Austrian Hills Grüner Veltliner 2018 (13%) from £9.99 Majestic. Excellent white – I bought a case for my Dad. Pure and refreshing as a tangerine icicle.

ROCK ME AMADEUS: Grüner Veltliner Reserve 2018 (13%) £6.99 Lidl. Peachy with zingy freshness and a little spice – a great value summer special.

FREUD AND TESTED: Pittnauer Pitti Red 2017 (12.5%) £9.95 The Wine Society. A steal for a red of this level of character, bright, invigorating, an eruption of excellence!

WINE OF THE WEEK: Salomon Undhof Grüner Veltliner 2018(12%) £13.95 Lea & Sandeman. This wine is incredible, buy it and be delighted! Electrifying nectarine zing with a splendid citrus
freshness, it’ll quench and thrill you and your guests all summer long.

This column was originally published online at EVENT, Mail Online, Friday 24th April 2020

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