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Styria is a special case in Austria in many respects. Red wines - although they are getting better and better - play just as subordinate a role as the leading varieties Grüner Veltliner, which does not occur at all here, and Riesling, which has, however, been taken increasingly seriously for some years, even if in vanishingly small quantities. Styria is a paradise for Sauvignon, Muscat, Traminer and Burgundy varieties. From all these varieties, wines regularly come from here that can compete with the best representatives of their kind worldwide.

However, we are not yet talking about the great site and reserve wines, but rather about the basic wines, the bread and butter wines, the things that you don't have to sneak around in the cellar for years before you dare to open them. Because here, too, the producers of Styria seldom afford weaknesses; the average quality of even the simpler wines is as high here as in very few wine regions in the world.

However, maintaining this status was a challenge in 2014. The difficult vintage made it difficult for producers to maintain the high level - sometimes too difficult. Especially the Burgundy varieties obviously suffered from the conditions, but also the Welschriesling was at times more green and acid than fresh and sparkling. Even Sauvignon Blanc, as the region's parade variety, did not escape unscathed everywhere.

The light ones

The Muskateller, on the other hand, did surprisingly well, and this year there is a long line of highly enjoyable, fine, polished and animating wines, led by the remarkably good examples from the Dreisiebner and Zweytick wineries. But also on the places one wine is more pleasing than the other. It seems as if the variety's ability to produce fine and at the same time expressive wines even with low must weights suits it very well this year. Those who know Muskateller only as a flowery, perfumed, sweetish everyday drink should urgently consider conversion by these always bone-dry gems.

All the Styrian Muskateller tasted last.

The region's other explicitly low-alcohol variety is Welschriesling, which ideally turns out wonderfully refreshing, cool and crisp, but rarely brings enough substance and character for higher consecrations. It can also quickly drift into the banal and green when conditions become difficult. Above all, however, the wines from Gross, Erwin Sabathi, Hannes Sabathi, Lackner-Tinnacher, Peter Masser, Schwarz and the Sattlerhof are as good as ever; in addition, the extremely inexpensive "Flamberg" from Schneeberger should be mentioned, which does not really belong here as single vineyard, but nevertheless fits perfectly into the series of more sophisticated everyday wines. Dry Welschriesling is almost never more than that. And it doesn't have to be.

All recently tasted Styrian Welschrieslings

Sauvignon and Burgundy

In the case of Sauvignon, the vintage makes it clear that even the top wineries cannot work magic. In good years, their basic wines often stand out clearly from the crowd; this year they cannot stand out so clearly. They are on a par - at a very high level - with some wines whose producers one would not immediately think of as direct competitors. Among the best classic Sauvignons of the vintage are not only well-known names like Neumeister, Sattlerhof, Tement, Stefan Potzinger or Ewald Zweytick, but also the Kästenburg winery. Even just behind the top, big names stand next to those rather lesser-known wineries outside of Styria, whose wines are often available at reasonable prices to boot. A highly gratifying situation that makes it quite clear how well the region is positioned in terms of breadth. All in all, we must have tasted 30 wines that deserve every attention.

All recently tasted Styrian Sauvignons

The picture is quite heterogeneous among the white Burgundy varieties. The Morillon, as the Chardonnay is usually called in the region, had a particularly hard time. Although there are some quite good wines here, we can't really single out any of the classics so far this year. The Pinot Gris are quite behind in terms of numbers, but there are two top wines in their class, the Ploder-Rosenberg and the Neumeister. Pinot Blanc is even a little better off. The top is small here, too, and the overall quality is a bit mixed, but after the remarkably good Klassik wines from Tement, Neumeister and Frauwallner, there is a long line of very good examples - and again, not only the big names are among the winners.

Links to the most recently tasted white Burgundy varieties:

Chardonnay/Morillon Pinot Gris Pinot Blanc

Red wines

As already mentioned, there has been a lot going on with red wines in recent years. Especially the Zweigelt can be very enjoyable here, even in the basic version. With its freshness, its bite and its often cool character, it competes with many a basic Zweigelt from the real red wine regions, which is a little lacking in tension in comparison. Especially the Holler winery surprised us this year with its Zweigelt Klassik. Other highly recommendable reds that no longer belong to the classic category are the Cuvée 1.6 from Gölles, Schilhan's Zweigelt "Soul", and the Pinot Noir from Kögl, a winery that you should keep an eye on because of its recently increasing quality.

All recently tasted Styrian red wines

The links in the wine guide also lead to the 2014 local and single vineyards, which have not yet been mentioned in the texts. They will be discussed separately, together with the top wines of older vintages, when the tastings are completed, as a large part of the samples will only reach us in the coming weeks. Only in the case of the red wines have we made an exception here.

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