It’s always exciting taste a new vintage and it’s even more exciting when that new vintage turns out to be glorious. The 2019 vintage in Austria is a case in point—turning this into a happy hat trick of stellar vintages ending in nine like 1999 and 2009.
After the heatwave vintage of the previous year, 2019 in one way was a “return to normal” as the Austrian Wine Marketing Board put it. It was a happy combination of budding after spring frosts had passed, spring rains to replenish groundwater levels, great flowering conditions, a warm, even hot summer—the hottest, driest June on record in fact—followed in late August and September by cool nights and a warm October.
This meant healthy grapes first and foremost, but it gave them ample time to develop complex aromatics without heat or dry stress. The great single-site wines of the 2018 vintage showed that retaining freshness is something the Austrians are good at even in hot years. In 2019, however, that lip-smacking freshness and intensity show across the board, not just in the higher-tier wines.
Even the most affordable entry-level wines are crunchy and joyous, offering tons of refreshment and flavor for relatively little money. It begins with the bone-dry and superfragrant Gelber Muskatellers that clock up a mere 11.5% alcohol by volume (abv) and continues with Austria’s peppery flagship Grüner Veltliner, which manages to shine in every guise—from light-bodied to serious and concentrated. The dry Rieslings show exciting tension and exuberant citrus aromas.
The first 2019 reds to be released, most of them intended for immediate enjoyment rather than laying down, have a cherry and berry exuberance that makes them refreshing crowd pleasers. While there’s more to be released in the coming year, it’s clear that this vintage represents incredible value for such artisanally made wines. Be sure to stock up once these wines hit the shelves.
Wines to try from Austria’s 2019 vintage
Eichinger 2019 Ried Hasel Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal); $19, 93 points. Wet pebble and lemon on the nose are shy and subtle. It is on the palate that the salty, savory crushed herb sensations unfurl. There is crushed yarrow and sage dissolved in lemon purity and edged with salty yeast. This is sleek, concentrated, taut and brimming with flavor. Weygandt-Metzler. Editors’ Choice.
Bernhard Ott 2019 Am Berg Grüner Veltliner (Niederösterreich); $21, 92 points. Subtle notes of pear are evoked on the nose, both freshly cut green pear peel and riper flesh of yellow pear. The palate then kicks in with a salty hint of yeast and miso on the textured palate. The dry finish brims with freshness. Skurnik Wines, Inc.
Biokult 2019 Naken Made With Organic Grapes White (Burgenland); $20, 92 points. Pink-hued and funky, this skin-contact orange wine brims with clementine and orange peel notes on the nose, supported by an overtone of honeysuckle. The light palate has a texture reminiscent of citrus pith and tingles with freshness, while clementine and white pepper notes are highlighted by the bone-dry nature. It is compelling and wonderfully light. Natural Merchants, Inc.
Neumeister 2019 Gelber Muskateller (Vulkanland Steiermark); $21, 92 points. Fresh lemon zest, honeysuckle and a hint of elderflower make for a fresh and appetizing nose. The light palate has a gentle spritz and presents incredible freshness and aroma for such finesse. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd.
R&A Pfaffl 2019 Sandstein Zweigelt (Niederösterreich); $21, 92 points. Cinnamon and both red and black cherry combine into an appetizing, aromatic nose while peppery hints shimmer in the background. The palate packs a punch with a lovely web of fine tannins and tons of pure cherry fruit. Freshness highlights it all and makes the dry finish really mouthwatering. Taub Family Selections.
Stadt Krems 2019 Grüner Veltliner (Kremstal); $15, 92 points. Underneath the vivid green pear and lemon notes on the nose there is a real Mirabelle intensity. The palate adds yeasty creaminess to these notions on a slender but concentrated palate, while salty, peppery highlights enliven that yeasty body. Craft+Estate–Winebow. Best Buy.
Bründlmayer 2019 Terrassen Riesling (Kamptal); $27, 91 points. The faintest whiff of passion fruit hovers tropically on the nose. The palate tones it down, with slender citrus notions of lemon and zesty grapefruit, presenting a slender, fresh and tangy body full of aromatic, citrus-scented freshness. The finish is dry and moreish. Terry Theise Estate Selections.
Markus Huber 2019 Terrassen Riesling (Traisental); $18, 91 points. Breezy lemon freshness sprays from the glass with the first whiff. The palate is slender and light, bright and taut and tingles with lemon while a rounder, riper Mirabelle core lends substance and warmth. It’s totally dry and utterly refreshing. Broadbent Selections, Inc.
Schloss Gobelsburg 2019 Cistercien Rosé (Niederösterreich); $15, 90 points. Tart strawberry notes on the nose signal immediate refreshment. The slender, dry palate is made all the more lively with spritz which accentuates all those vivid notes of lemon. Skurnik Wines, Inc. Best Buy.
Anton Bauer 2019 Assemblage Rosé (Wagram); $14, 89 points. Subtle strawberry and lemon notes have a lovely grapefruit zestiness on the nose. The dry palate then shifts the focus on juicy, bursting berry notes that spell fruit, ease and refreshment. KWSelection.com. Best Buy.