Wine Lesson Wednesday -A Weekly Feature

>> Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In this weeks lesson I will be covering wines of Germany and Austria , as well as some of the grapes they use. 

GERMAN WINES: German vineyards are at the northern most extreme of where grapes can ripen. The country produces some the the worlds most elegant white wines and its often marginal climate and difficult growing conditions have lead winemakers to develop new crossings particularly suited to its needs.

White Varieties:

Riesling is the noble grape of Germany and acknowledged as one of the greatest white grape varieties of the world. It is most widely planted in prestigious sites in the Rheingau and Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The wines are very clean, floral and crisp with a fresh acidity.

 Gewurztraminer is a white grape that produces spicy, aromatic wines. Also an important grape in Alsace, France. 

Muller-Thurgau is a white grape developed in the early 1880s and is thought to be a cross between both a Riesling and Silvaner, or between two clones of Riesling. The advantage of this grape is that it ripens early and is very reliable. The wines are flowery with medium acidity.

Red Varieties:

Spatburgunder is a red grape more commonly known as Pinot Noir. In Germany, the grape is a late ripening variety that produces full, fruity wines.

Dornfelder is a recent arrival, having been created in 1956. The grape is unusual in that it has red-colored flesh and as a result produces wines which are deep in color. Produces fresh and fruity wines which are increasingly fashionable.

AUSTRIAN WINES: Like Germany, Austria is best known for exceptional dry white wines and superb sweet wines. Until the 1990's most of the country's wine production was consumed within its borders. Generally speaking, Austrian white wines are fuller bodied then German white wines. 

White Varieties :

Gruner Veltliner-
Gruner Veltliner is Austria's most important white variety  and a source of national pride. The wines are typically dry, peppery and spicy, with an almost Burgundian like quality.

Red Varieties:

Zweigelt is a red variety that was developed in 1922. It is a cross between the Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent grapes. Remarkably it is now the most widely planted red grape in Austria. Produces fruity wines that are generally consumed young. 

Blaufrankisch is a red grape that produces wines that are rich in tannin and exhibit a spicy, muscular character. 

Next week I will explore some of the many German and Austrian wines that use these grape varieties. Until then Salute ! 

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