Pursuit of quality

Klinger adds: “There are significant red wine exports to our neighbouring countries Germany and Switzerland (40-50%). All other countries buy significantly more white wine from us.”

Roman Horvath MW, winery director of Domäne Wachau, concurs. “Back in the 1990s and early 2000s Austria experienced a strong demand for red wine. High end, very expensive red Cuvées were ‘trés chic’. Now Austria is facing a white wine boom while reds have not yet managed to achieve a similar success as the whites in export markets. 

“Also in Austria consumption for red wine has dropped a bit. Therefore, what’s planted is mostly Grüner Veltliner, some Riesling and a couple of other white varieties that have more importance in the domestic market than in exports. Plantings of reds have decreased dramatically in the last decade.

“Austrian wine drinkers are loyal, the domestic market is still strong but the small vintages in recent years have brought more non-Austrian wines to the market, especially in the entry-level segment of Austrian supermarkets. High-end wines consumed in Austria are still mainly Austrian. 

“In our export markets Grüner Veltliner is still the most important grape variety by far. Austrian reds are starting to gain recognition but still at a very low level. The new, elegant red wine style that’s being promoted, especially by young Austrian red wine producers, may increase the chances for Austrian red wines internationally,” says Horvath. 

Winzer Krems’ export manager, Ludvig Holzer, tells DI: “Austrian wines stand for high quality, especially dry and fruity characters matching perfectly with diverse food.

“Keep the focus on the autochthon grape varieties. Especially the Grüner Veltliner and the Blauer Zweigelt with its smooth tannins and fruity flavour. They are still the favourites of Austrian consumers and becoming more and more popular in the world,” says Holzer.

Success story

Horvath says: “Austrian wine has been a success story despite unpronounceable grape names and origins and the assumption of many to be just another weird origin with an expiration date. Austrian white wine works internationally because it is easy to like at any level and for any palate. Grüner Veltliner shows a great diversity of styles.

“Nevertheless, from an international point of view, what has been discovered of Austria so far is only a small share of what Austrian wine really has to offer. We encourage decision makers, buyers and opinion leaders to believe in Austrian wine and dig deeper. There’s still so much more to discover,” says Horvath.

The last words rest with the AWMB’s ebullient Klinger. “Austrian wine has many times been referred to as world-class wines for reasonable prices. If you look for hand-crafted, individual wines, showing origin, vintage character and history, Austria is your country. And, as we said, these wines just taste great. Once you get to know them, you can’t live without them.”