Innovative Austrians at ProWein 2006

For Austrian wine producers, 2005 was an emotional roller coaster. It looked black for the vintage for a long time. But then, fantastic October weather saved the day, ensuring a more than satisfying result. Hence, the approximately 200 Austrian wine growers are gladly coming to Düsseldorf for ProWein. The international trade fair for wine and spirits has been the most important industry event for Austrian wine and sprits producers and the largest performance show outside of the Alpine region. On the back of an excellent vintage, delivering several top wines, presenting yourself is easy. "The quality is well above average," Silvia Prieler from Schützen am Gebirge exclaims. And her colleague Silvia Heinrich-Kanyak from Deutschkreutz in Mittelburgenland saw herself "rewarded with ripe, healthy grapes in this Indian summer." The two young wine growers, who will appear at the Rhine with their association "11 Frauen und ihre Weine" (11 women and their wines), agree: "It is, however, very, very little." With barely 2 million hectolitres, the harvest is decidedly more modest than their long-held average (2,5 hectolitres).

Grüner Veltliner in the spotlight

The Austrians are bringing a respectable array to the pending ProWein. The entire Hall 7—directly adjacent to Eingang Nord—is reserved for Austrian exponents. Occupying one-third of the growing area, Grüner Veltliner is inevitably in the foreground as primary variety. The winemakers are proud that their Veltliner is once again successful as a DAC wine, noticeably improving the image of the region.

On the other hand, indigenous varieties such as the substantial white Rotgipfler and Zierfandler from the thermal baths region south of Vienna, the Frühroter and Roter Veltliner from Lower Austria or the Styrian Blauer Wildbacher as red wines and, as a light red, the Schilcher play an increasingly important role. Among red wines, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch are in the foreground, followed closely by St. Laurent and Pinot Noir. The international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are used in cuvees, while the Burgenland favourite Syrah is usually added to spicy, full-bodied wines.

Austria's wine elite in Hall 7

The wines from the entire elite of the country will be presented. Names such as Hirtzberger, Knoll, Bründlmayer, Ernst Triebaumer, Loimer, Kracher and Nittnaus speak for the fair's appeal—also to the wine growers who more often give out their wine than to sell it. The associations Tu felix Austria (represented in Germany by Schlumberger), Pannobile, Renommierte Weingüter Burgenland, the Donnerskirchner Weinquartett, 11 Frauen and the young club Vitikult, with nine producers from Mittelburgenland, plan cooperative presentations. The latter club, who selected Blaufränkisch as their primary variety, counts renowned producers such as Heribert Bayer, Johann Heinrich and Stefan Lang—who also acts as spokesman—as members.

The up-and-coming are pushing forward

Several discoveries can be made among the vineyards, for example at the barely 25-year young Werner Michlits (Weingut Weinklang) from Pamhagen and Hannes Sabathi from Southern Styria. Or in the aspiring growing area Göttelsbrunn in the Carnuntum region east of Vienna. Glatzer, Grassl, Markowitsch, Netzl and Pimpel are the names of the growers who have been making waves for several years and are awaking the region from its deep sleep. One innovative Burgenlander who is full of ideas is Günter Triebaumer from Rust, nephew of celebrity Ernst Triebauer (E.T.). Schlossweingut Esterhàzy from Eisenstadt presents itself strongly once again. Next to Wieninger, special attention should be paid to Stadtweingut Cobenzl and Richard Zahel in the Vienna wine scene. They prove that the "mixed batch"—once the simple wine of the wine bars—can also have a high standard.