Eye-Opening Blind Tasting: Austria Beats the World!

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Welcome to the world of Austria´s Fine Brands, the newsletter with the latest and most exciting information about our work with outstanding Austrian wine estates, their unique wines and, of course, the impressive success that they´ve achieved.

The newsletter will appear approximately 3 - 4 times per year to keep you up to date with current happenings, to provide you with firm - and simply, quite good - arguments for selling, and to entertain you with interesting stories about my experiences obtained during my international work travels.

It is a pleasure to have you on board, discovering Austria´s Fine Brands. Of course, if you are not interested in receiving any future newsletters, all you have to do is inform me here. I wish you plenty of enjoyable reading, and I´m very much looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Michael Thurner

Austria's Fine Brands
Michael Thurner, CEO


Austrian Wine Beats the World

(Singapore, August 2009). Austria´s Fine Brands is a portfolio featuring some of the best wine estates in Austria. And this was proven again recently at an international blind tasting in Singapore. The roster of 13 tasters comprised the most renowned wine-connoisseurs of Singapore (see participation list), including journalists, importers and sommeliers. You will find the list of wines tasted via the following link. For each flight, the tasters decided which wine they preferred for the top position; the wine selected most became the flight champion.

In the First Flight, the Grüner Veltliner Käferberg 2007 from the Jurtschitsch wine estate was the tasting group´s absolute favorite. This was followed by Grüner Veltliner Berg 2006 from Markus Huber. Not so strongly preferred, however, was Les Purcelles 2007 Puligny Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy. With the Rieslings (the Second Flight) Huber took first place; Jurtschitsch placed second.

The Third Flight was dedicated to the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. Manfred Tement proved with his Sauvignon blanc Grassnitzberg 2007as well as the powerful Zieregg Sauvignon blanc 2007 that he is amongst the best Sauvignon producers in the world. The majority of the tasters favored both of these wines over the Sauvignon icon Puilly-Fumé Silex by Didier Dagueneau. Also the Sauvignon varietal´s aging potential was demonstrated credibly with the Terment Zieregg Sauvignon blanc 1999.

These three white wine flights demonstrated impressively the overall level of the tasting. The red wines followed:

Flight Four was dedicated to the varietal Pinot Noir. Geographically, Burgundy and the wine-growing areas of Austria are located between the exact same degrees of latitude (47°- 48°). With that, both countries feature perfect climatic conditions for elegant red wines (Blaufränkisch, St.Laurent and Pinot Noir). Out of the three Pinot Noir wines, the Pinot Noir Holzspur Grand Reserve 2004 from the Johanneshof Reinisch (JR) wine estate in the Thermenregion was the absolute favorite. It is no coincidence that the Thermenregion is repeatedly referred to as "the Burgundy of Austria". Also generously rated was the Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 from Gerhard Markowitsch in the Carnuntum wine-growing area to the north. When the third Pinot Noir was revealed, the tasters could hardly believe that is was in fact a Meo Carmuzet Clos Vougeot 2006. Only one of the 13 tasters preferred this wine overall.

In the Fifth Flight, Moric Blaufränkisch Neckenmarkt Alte Reben 2006 triumphed over the famous La Turque 2004 Cote Rotie from Guigal. This flight demonstrated especially that Blaufränkisch, in an elegant and spicy style, has a character that is unbelievably similar to the top wines of the northern Rhone. This is also true for St. Laurent, shown in this flight with - once again - Reinisch´s St.Laurent Holzspur Grand Reserve 2004.

Flight Six offered major international competition as well. The Bordeaux style was the focus on this group. First of all, Arachon Evolution 2004 from T.FX.T. was the big winner. With serious competition, it stood its ground against Mouton Rothschild 2004, closely followed by the Weninger winery´s Blaufränkisch Dürrau 2004 and the Rosenberg 2004 from Gerhard Markowitsch. While Arachon and Rosenberg are Bordeaux-style blends (mainly Blaufränkisch or Zweigelt with portions of Cabernet and Merlot ), it became very clear that a pure Blaufränkisch (Weninger´s Dürrau) is an absolute world class wine. For Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, who writes for, amongst other publications, erobertparker.com, the entire flight was on a very high level, with Weninger´s Dürrau as her personal favorite. Once again, Austria demonstrated that its red wines can play in the top league - even when up against the Great Names in blind tastings! This flight was followed by two of
Weninger´s Blaufränkisch wines (Flight Seven), that reveal wonderful aging potential: the 2002 and the still-youthful Blaufränkisch Reserve 1992. A remarkable exercise indeed !

The final round of the tasting (the Eighth Flight) was a showdown between exciting sweet wines. Hans Tschida is one of the best sweet wine producers in Austria as well as the world because of the brilliant harmony and elegance defining his wines. The natural acidity of the Seewinkel - where Tschida´s vineyards lie - lends to this region´s sweet wines a freshness that is more pronounced than what is found in the wines of the international competition (most notably Sauternes and Barsac). So it is not surprising that in blind tastings, these wines are preferred even over great names such as Chateau Yquem. This was certainly confirmed in this flight! Both of Tschida´s wines - the Trockenbeerenauslese made from the Sämling varietal and matured in steel tanks, and the barrique TBA made of Chardonnay - were preferred hands down over Yquem and made for a glorious tasting finale.

Apples & Pears:
Tastings like these are definitely eye openers. They show that also small countries can produce great wines. Sometimes it is said that these types of tastings are like comparing apples to pears. Perhaps this is true - however, our aim was not to show that we have the better apples, but that our pears are also very good. And in this particular blind tasting, no one was able to say which were the apples and which were the pears !

The goal of Austria´s Fine Brands is to make these wines internationally known and to increase their availability. Because one thing is for sure: for a well-chosen wine list, Austrian wine must not be missed.


Falstaff Book Published:

Here a short summary of the top scores of Austria´s Fine Brands in the latest published Falstaff wine guide book 2009/2010. If you would like to have information on the other scores, please contact Angela in my office: office@austriasfinebrands.com

Weingut Huber:
94 Grüner Veltliner Berg 2008, Traisental DAC Reserve
93 Riesling Berg 2008, Traisental DAC Reserve
92 Grüner Veltliner Alte Setzen 2008, Traisental DAC

Weingut Jurtschitsch:
(93-95) Riesling Heiligenstein Alte Reben 2008, Kamptal DAC Reserve
(93-95) Grüner Veltliner Käferberg 2008, Kamptal DAC Reserve
(92-94) Grüner Veltliner Dechant Alte Reben 2008, Kamptal DAC Reserve

Weingut Markowitsch:
(93-95) M1 2006
(92-94) Rosenberg 2007
(91-93) Pinot Noir Reserve 2007

Weingut Johanneshof Reinisch (JR):
(92-94) St. Laurent Grand Reserve Holzspur 2007
93 Zierfandler Reserve 2007
(91-93) Pinot Noir Grand Reserve Holzspur 2007

Weingut Tement:
96 Zieregg Sauvignon blanc 2007
94 Sernau Sauvignon blanc 2007
93 Zieregg Morillon (Chardonnay) 2007

Arachon T.FX.T.
(88-90) Arachon Evolution 2007
(87-89) A'kira 2007

Weingut Weninger:
Weninger wines unfortunately were not tasted for the current issue of Falstaff. The following scores were given from David Schildknecht (Robert Parker´s Wine Advocate).
91 Blaufränkisch Dürrau 2006
91 Blaufränkisch Alte Reben 2006 90 Blaufränkisch Hochäcker 2006

Weingut Angerhof Tschida:
95 Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) Sämling 2006
94 Muskat Ottonel Schilfwein 2006
92 Beerenauslese (BA) 2006

Trade News - Info from the Wineries:

Markus Huber



Johanneshof Reinisch

Angerhof Tschida

Arachon T.FX.T.



Weingut Huber: Decanter and Falstaff Write-ups
In its summer edition, Decanter magazine listed more than 100 Austrian Grüner Veltliners that had been tasted by the magazine´s expert panel. Markus Huber´s wines reached top positions: the "Best Value" trophy was awarded to his Sainsbury´s Taste of Difference, and the 4-Star "Highly Recommended" accolade set Markus´s Alte Setzen amongst the best wines.
Scan Decanter 1
Scan Decanter 2
Scan Decanter 3

In the July/August edition of Falstaff magazine, Markus´s Grüner Veltliner Obere Steigen captured the 2nd Grüner Veltliner Grand Prix championship. The purpose of the Grüner Veltliner Grand Prix is to identify the Austrian Grüner Veltiner that demonstrates the most in character and typicity.

Weingut Jurtschitsch: National Importer in Canada & the Next Big Thing: Käferberg!
Confirmed at Vinexpo: Jurtschitsch is the second Austrian winery to acquire a major national importer in Canada. Select Wines is one of Canada´s most established importers and will distribute the wines with the big "J" on the label. Info at: www.selectwines.ca.

In terms of wine making, young Alwin already took over from his uncles. One of the first things he did, was introducing a Grüner Veltliner from the Käferberg vineyard, one of the most famous and exciting Crus from Kamptal. It produces a very intense and powerful Grüner Veltliner from this cool site, basically grown on the top of Käferberg, which consists of mostly glimmer and shist soils which deliver deep and elegant minerality. This will be the next big thing! See also the tasting results from the Singapore tasting above.

Winery Markowitsch: Pinot Noir & Carnuntum Cuvée Listed at Oddbins, UK & New Importer in Sweden!
Since the beginning of this summer, the noble and rather "unusual" wine store in England (why else would it be called "ODD" Bins!) has been listing the wines of Gerhard Markowitsch. With his Pinot Noir 2007 and his Zweigelt blend Carnuntum Cuvée, Gerhard´s red wines are the only Austrian ones listed at this prestigious UK chain. Info at: www.oddbins.com
Also a new importers could be found in Sweden, they will primarily focus on the distribution of Gerhards wines in the ontrade: www.sigva.se

Weingut Johanneshof Reinisch: Three Brothers Making Outstanding Wines & New Importer in Denmark!
The Reinisch wine estate is now being managed alone by the three brothers, Hannes (cellar master), Michael (cellar and sales) and Christian (gastronomy and logistics). Their focus is on the varietals Sankt Laurent and Pinot Noir - for which the winery is known to produce some of the best not only in Austria, but also internationally (see Singapore tasting above). For a few years now, the Reinischs´ have also been cultivating two rare regional white grape varieties: Zierfandler & Rotgipfler grow on no more than around 100 hectares of vineyards worldwide. When these wines are tasted, it becomes clear why this region is always referred to as Austria´s Burgundy! Especially with Asian food those wines can be paired very well!

After participating in Prowein in Germany, the Reinisch family now finally found an importer in Denmark. From now on these great wines are distributed by Haller Vine (www.hallervine.dk).

Weingut Angerhof Tschida: "Fine Wines" write up & 6x Gold at the IWC, London.
There has been great success for Tschida in London. At the International Wine Challenge, the Angerhof Tschida wine estate won the following trophies: Sämling TBA 2005: Austrian Sweet Trophy, Austrian Botrytis Trophy, Austrian Sämling Botrytis Trophy and Burgenland Trophy;
Chardonnay TBA 2005: Austrian Chardonnay Botrytis Trophy.

Tschida also has been nominated for the IWC´s coveted "Sweet Wine Maker of the Year" title. The winner will be announced at the Challenge´s gala dinner taking place in London on September 2nd.
The pure excellence of Tschida wines has been detailed in an article published in The World of Fine Wine magazine this past spring: "Tschida is one of the most underrated wineries".

Plus, there are new importers for Tschida in Sweden (Vinovativa, www.vinovativa.se); Norway (Terroir, www.terroir.no) and the UK (Astrum Wine Cellars, www.astrumwinecellars.com)

Winery Arachon T.FX.T.: Austria´s Great Bordeaux beats Mouton!
When the three winemakers Manfred Tement, FX Pichler and Tibor Szemes founded Arachon, they set out to create a great Bordeaux-style Austrian red wine based on the Blaufränkisch grape. And they certainly have succeeded. Arachon can no longer be ignored on the red wine scene, especially as it has already beat out established great wines in legendary blind tastings. This was certainly the case most recently in Singapore see Singapore tasting above), where it mesmerized tasters even more than its benchmark, Mouton Rothschild!
For visitors, please check out the new winery as well. One of the architectural monuments of the Austrian wine industry is the newly build Arachon TFXT wine cellar in Horitschon (www.arachon.com).

Weingut Weninger: Not only Singapore Importer Excited About Dürrau
Blaufränkisch is being recognized more and more as the new great grape variety for cooler wine growing areas. Producers like Weninger, Moric and Schiefer produce some of the finest examples. David Schildknecht (Robert Parker´s Wine Advocate) as well as a growing number of importers in Asia are acknowledging that Blaufränkisch indeed can make great wines. While the initial order placed by the Singapore importer (www.artisan-cellars.com) was almost solely for Pinot Noir, now also Weninger`s Blaufränkisch Dürrau is - for the first time ! - imported to Southeast Asia. People who have an understanding of wine are particularly excited.
After all, Weninger was named as "Winery of the Year" by Wine & Spirits magazine last year. Link:

Weingut Tement: 96 Pt. for Zieregg 2007 and a New Importer in Sweden
The Tement wine estate now has a new importer in Sweden. In a few weeks, the young company, Vinovativa (www.vinovativa.se), will begin to distribute the wines of Tement. A strong focus on gastronomy as well as listings of innovative wines at the monopoly is Vinovativa´s main focus, and Tement´s Zieregg Sauvignon blanc 2007 should help achieve this goal.
According to Manfred Tement: "This is perhaps the greatest Zieregg that I´ve ever made."
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