Downtown, Friday 7/28 5-7:30 pm

White & Rosé

Austria. Land of Mozart, Wiener Schnitzel, and mighty fine wine. Even before my 2004 trip with importer Klaus Wittauer, I liked Austrian wine. Since then, I’m in the tank. Grüner Veltliner is their most famous wine export, but don’t miss their reds and roses. Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch (Lemberger), Sankt (St.) Laurent, and Pinot Noir all make good to great wines in Austria. Today we taste a bit of their offerings, from my friends Tony and Leo. Gruss, and Prost!

Leo Hillinger, Secco Pinot Noir NV – $18.99
Tasting Price – $16.96
(100% Pinot Noir; Burgenland, Austria)
If you want to find the next sparkling wine trend, try Austrian “Prosecco.” Legally it is not Prosecco, which can only come from the area of the Veneto north of Trevisio, but several Austrian wineries have made Prosecco-style wines for several years. I find this an apt term; I often describe Austria as “extreme northern Italy” to those frightened of the Germanic words on Austrian bottles. Leo Hillinger makes a salmon-colored sparkler “Secco” from Pinot Noir. It shows a deep rosé color with great aromas of red cherries and wild strawberries. In the mouth, the light fizz makes it perfect with just about everything from curry to barbecue to tuna. It is not as bubbly as Champagne, like Prosecco. It sports a pink ribbon because one Euro from each bottle sold funds the fight against breast cancer. 11% alcohol.

Leo Hillinger is one of Austria’s most dynamic and innovative winemakers. A tall, muscular blond who looks like a stereotypical surfer dude, Leo speaks English with an Australian-German accent—a remnant of three years spent “down under” honing his winemaking skills.

Anton Bauer, Rosé Wagram 2016 – $12.99
Tasting price – $11.69
(34% Zweigelt, 33% Syrah, 33% Merlot; Wagram, Austria)
In the dog days of summer, we recommend a fresh and invigorating dry rosé. This strawberry and raspberry scented charmer has a remarkable cooling effect. One sip and it’s like you’re drinking it on a cold, windy day in February in Austria on the hill overlooking Tony Bauer’s vineyard. You might want to bundle up.

Anton Bauer, Grüner Veltliner “Gmörk” 2016 – $12.99
Tasting price – $11.69
(100% Grüner Veltliner; Donauland; Austria)
The pantheon of our staples includes Austria’s Grüner Veltliner. We love to talk about it, we love to sell it, and we love to drink it. This universal white wine matches with everything from asparagus, to salads, to curry, to Asian noodles, to roast chicken. Tony’s dry, delicious, and gluggable Gruner is a fusion of citrus and stone fruit, with a whisper of white pepper. Don’t fear the ümlaut: Austrians speak German, but make dry wines. Call it Grue-Ve (groovy) for short.

Ze Becco, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2015 -10.99
Wine-of-the-Week. On Sale For $8.96
Verdicchio (verr-dick-key-oh) is a wine region that lies in the foothills of the Apennines, Italy’s mountainous backbone, where it cuts east towards the Agean Sea. Verdicchio (vear-dik-key-oh) is also a grape of the Marches on Italy’s east central coast. Castelli di Jesi is the area around the town of Jesi where the best Verdicchio is grown. 2015 is the amazing European vintage that already legendary for its fantastic wines. This dry white is quite rich, pleasingly smooth, & full with aromas of stone fruits of pear & apricot, and notes of honey, rosemary, & almond.


Anton Bauer, Zweigelt Feuersbrunn 2013 – $14.99
Tasting price – $13.59
(100% Zweigelt; Wagram, Austria)
Along the Austrian Danube, in the rolling hills of the Wagram west of Vienna, our friend Tony Bauer crafts a broad range of delicious organic wines. We stock many of them. His latest winner is this smooth, perfectly balanced red. Why isn’t Austria’s smooth and easy-going Zweigelt grape more popular here? Maybe it’s the uncompromisingly Germanic name. In 1922 Dr. Fritz Zweigelt crossed two other red grapes to create his namesake; leading wine writer Jancis Robinson to quip that Zweigelt would be more famous, “if only he had been named Dr. Pinot Noir.” In Washington State they call it Lemberger, but that’s no better. Whatever you call it, try it for yourself. Smooth and lush, with a soft finish and peppery notes, this is a “wunderbar” wine.

Ze Becco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 -10.99
Wine-of-the-Week. On Sale for $8.96
(100% Montepulciano; Abruzzo, Italy)
East of Tuscany on the Adriatic coast lies the province of Abruzzo. There they make an easygoing, well-priced, everyday wine called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. In Italy this phrasing for wines always means the grape of the town/region. So this friendly red is made from the Montepulciano grape, not to be confused with the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. Full of dark fruits and round on the palate, it makes us want to say “Ciao Bella!”


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