On the day before VieVinum 2024 I had the pleasure of attending one of the absolute highlights of the program, the Flight Tasting; this year the theme was International Heroes and Rising Stars.

Unfortunately, I only made my way through four of the 18 flights as I’m getting slow in my old age. Actually, it’s probably just being out of practice as this is only my second trip in four years. Nevertheless, it was an tremendous tasting.


Flight 3 – Achleiten and Loibenberg, two great single sites of Wachau

2022 Rudi Pichler Grüner Veltliner Ried Achleiten Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 13% Residual Sugar ?)
From very specific migmatitic granitic gneiss soils. Stomped by foot. 18 hour maceration. Definite river stone aromatics with delicate fruit nuances. The plate is rich and gloriously expressive. Extremely mouthfilling with a boatload of extract. Exactly what I enjoy from Wachau. An astounding glass of full-bodied wine. Will age for decades.
5 apples out of 5

2022 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Ried Achleiten Weisenkirchen Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1.8 g/l)
Nosing more typically for Grüner with white pepper, stone fruit (apricot/peach), from gneiss subsoils – silicate rich, aged in large wooden casks, acidity is strident but really supports the ripe fruit, very mineral in nature and this dominates the extended finish. Will age for decades.
4.5 apples out of 5

2021 Prager Grüner Veltliner Ried Weisbenkirchener Achleiten “Stockkultur” Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 14% Residual Sugar ?)
Very expressive, lush, fruity bouquet, peach, touch of red fruit (raspberry), palate shows exquisite balance with exuberant fruit and firm acids, palate is rich and complex with an extended fruit/mineral finish. Will age for decades.
5 apples out of 5

2022 Alzinger Riesling Ried Loibener Loibenberg Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 5 g/l)
Touch of graphite/flint on nose, from what is viewed as the warmest site in all of Wachau, peach, apple, petrichor, palate is complex, rich and opulent but with a beautiful elegance and poise, again, will age gracefully for decades and become more and more complex.
4.5 apples out of 5

2022 Knoll Riesling Ried Loibenberg Loibenberg Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 13% Residual Sugar ?)
Now this has ALWAYS been one of my favourite wines in all of Austria. Flinty, very minerally, extremely elegant on both nose and palate, aged 6 – 8 months in large wooden casks, the finesse on this wine is something else, gorgeous salinity, extended, persistent saline finish. I’ll never forget tasting this with Mercedes Bachelder and Severino many years ago. Astonishingly good wine.
5 apples out of 5

2022 Gattinger Riesling Ried Loibenberg Loiben Wachau DAC Smaragd (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 2.8 g/l)
Pencil shavings, delicate peach, quite reserved, 6-8 hour maceration, 2 weeks on full lees/6 months on fine lees. There’s a lot of reserve going on here, both bouquet and palate, needs time to express itself.
4 apples out of 5



Flight 8 – Volcanic Wines

2021 Fischer Riesling Ried Stradenberg Vulkanland Stiermark DAC (Alcohol 12% Residual Sugar 5 g/l)
Apple, lemon/lime, baby powder/talc, crisp malic strength, nice ripe yellow apple on palate, decidedly saline, nice extended apple and mineral finish.
2021 Josef Scharl – Charakterwine – Sauvignon Blanc Ried Schemming “Aaron” Vulkanland Stiermark DAC (Alchohol 13% Residual Sugar 3 g/l)
Intriguingly herbal, quite powerful nose with lots of thiols, gooseberry, white pepper, blackcurrant leaf, passion fruit, quite sweaty, a pleasant example of Styrian Sauv Blanc and not too austere, crisp but with ripe fruit, expressive mineral finish.
3.5 apples out of 5
2021 Neumeister Sauvignon Blanc Ried Moarfield “GSTK” Vulkanland Stiermark DAC (Alcohol 13% Residual Sugar 1.1 g/l)
A closed mineral-focused nose, wet stone, more Loire-esque than most, pleasant mouthfilling mid-palate, although alcohol comes to the fore, tastes completely dry, petrichor rounds out the persistent aftertaste.
2020  Krispel Sauvignon Blanc Ried Neusetzberg (Alcohol 13% Residual Sugar 3.8 g/l)
Definitely the sweatiest thus far, sweet peas, touch of blackcurrant, palate is very crisp and belies the residual sugar, ageing in large oak barrels, mouthfilling especially on back of palate, lovely saline finish that goes on and on.
2020 Weinschloss Thaller Sauvignon Blanc Ried com Schloss Groswilfersdorf Vulkanland Stiermark DAC (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 3.8 g/l)
Smells slightly wilder – spontaneous ferment, some sweaty thiols, pleasant herbal/cucumber notes, 35 year-old vines, barrique adds some complexity here, as does lees ageing, quite a sweet attack but acid balances that out, a fair bit of phenolic grip is present here. Pleasant finish.
4 apples out of 5
2019 Frauwalle Straden Sauvignon Blanc Ried Buch “GSTK” Vulkanland Stiermark DAC (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1.9 g/l)
Pencil lead/graphite (strange for Sauv Blanc?), flinty, reminiscent of Pouilly Fumé on the nose, not showing its relative age at all as is still gloriously fresh and hence shows the ageing potential for these wines. Again, there’s a fair bit of phenolic grip going on here mid-palate, nice extended mineral finish.
4 apples out of 5

Flight 15 – St. Laurent meets Zweigelt


2021 Grassland Phillip St. Laurent “Alte Reben” Niederösterreich (Alcohol 12.5% Residual Sugar ?)
Oak hit me immediately, which is never a good thing for me. Natural ferment in wood, gentle punching down, maceration = 20 days, 16 month maturation in new and used barrique ( I wish they had used much less new wood). Oak completely dominates the fruit for me. Not for me, but I’m sure some would enjoy.
2020 Pittnauer Gerard und Brigitte St. Laurent Ried Rosenberg Weiden am See, Burgenland (Alcohol 12% Residual Sugar ?)
Quite a rich and ripe example of St. Laurent. From sand and gravel soils. Aromatics of raspberries and red cherries with a touch of blackberry and forest floor. Nice supple tannins and good, fresh acidity. Very pleasant indeed. A great example of Austrian St. Laurent.
2021 Luka Markowitsch Zweigelt Ried Haidackar “1ÖTW” Carnuntum DAC (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
Very enjoyable dark fruit and mineral nose. From loamy loess soils. There are some pleasant leafy tannins on the palate here, and it’s a fresh and lively wine with an enjoyable dark fruit finish, but it’s not terribly complex.
3.5 apples out of 5
2021 Markowitsch Gerard Zweigelt Ried Kirchweingarten “1ÖTW” Carnuntum DAC (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
Loads of dark berry fruit, leather, licorice, maybe just a hint of brett, but this is very attractive bouquet indeed. This is full-bodied Zweigelt, but shows some finesse at the same time. Natural ferment in open top fermenters, aged 18 months in 500l oak casks. Nice and spicy in the mouth with lots of juiciness and silky tannins. One of the best Zweigelt I have ever tasted. Great juice.
2019 Gebrüder Nittnaus Zweigelt Ried Luckenwald Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
Graphite but a fairly reserved nose. Black cherries, quite deep and rich balck cherries on palate. Fine silky tannins, prolonged finish.
3.5 apples out of 5
2018 Jordan Zweigelt “42” Niederösterreich Reserve (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1.9 g/l)
Nice balance of oak spice and fruit on the nose, very sweet attack and this continues on to the mid-palate where I find the sweetness a bit cloying. Not for me.
Flight 17 – Austrian red wines of the penultimate decade
2019 Schuster Rosi Blaufränkisch St. Margarethen Burgenland (Alcohol 14% Residual Sugar ?)
Ahhhhhh Blaufränkisch, how I have missed you! Immediately the nose grips me. Concentrated dark fruits (blackberries, cherries, blackcurrants). The palate is rich and meaty, with a deep mineral thread. Tannins are assertive give the wine excellent definition, framing then opulent fruit. Extended mineral finish.
2019 Feiler-Artinger Blaufränkisch Ried Ruster Oberer Wald, Leithaberg DAC (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
Smokey minerality here. Quite pretty and reserved with quite some allure. Acid is very pronounced but makes the final wine a little thin and reedy after the last one.
2018 Heinrich Silvia Blaufränkisch “Silvia Heinrich Edition Alte Reben” Burgenland (Alcohol 14% Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
mineral is strong in this one, but it totally integrates into the fruit. Quite enticing and reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais. The palate is all raspberries and cranberries, with nice cracked pepper and juicy acidity. Very enjoyable.
2017 Krutzler Balufränkisch Ried Weinberg (Alcohol 13.5% Residual Sugar 1 g/l)
Oak hits me at first, but there’s a fair bit of ripe dark fruit core here too. The oak is still a bit too much for me here and spoils what may have otherwise been an interesting wine.
2016 Umathum Blaufränkisch Ried Kirchberg “In Windem am See” Burgenland (Alcohol 13% Residual Sugar ?)
A different minerality on the bouquet, and quite interesting, although I feel it may throw some people. I’m mystified by this, as it is all over the place. Is this a nod to natural? I’m getting really tired of so many of these natural wines. I can’t decide if I like this or not. The acidity is off the charts. Not in balance at all. Perhaps a funked up bottle? Will visit their stand at VieVinum this weekend.
2015 Kollwentz Cuvée “Steinzeiler” Burgenland (Alcohol 14% Residual Sugar 1.1 g/l)
Smells very polished, and careful use of new cooperage. Not overwhelming like so many other oaked examples. Medium-full bodied with a nice firm structure leading to an extended mineral and tannin finish. Delightfully elegant and well-crafted. Superb stuff. Probably my favourite of this flight.

(All wines are rated out of a possible five apples)