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The Kamptal is not only the second largest wine-growing region in Lower Austria, it is also geologically one of the most varied. This is also reflected in the diversity of varieties. Thus, not only the two DAC-classified varieties Riesling and Grüner Veltliner produce wines of undeniable world class here, but also the white Burgundies, Sauvignons and even reds can turn out excellent, which is why their vineyard area is currently also steadily increasing. Only in 2014 did they have a hard time.

Grüner Veltliner - Difficult year, my ass

The main variety in the Kamptal, as in most Lower Austrian regions, is and remains Grüner Veltliner, even if its cultivation area is currently shrinking a little, mainly in favour of red varieties. In 2014, at any rate, its dominance once again turns out to be a stroke of luck, because no other grape variety coped better with the conditions of the vintage. Many Kamptal wineries still seem to have risen to the challenge, judging by the results of our tasting.

The most impressive wines this year were presented to us by Schloss Gobelsburg and Weingut Bründlmayer, both of which were able to place a whole series of Grüner Veltliner at the top. It will probably be debated for a long time whether Schloss Gobelsburg's currently still almost monolithic, concentrated, yet cool and extremely mineral Grub is the wine of the vintage, or Willi Bründlmayer's for this site and weight class almost delicate, downright springy, yet hardly less concentrated and multi-layered Lamm. Among the Veltliners tasted this year, a latecomer from 2013 is also at the top: Ludwig Hiedler's powerful, abysmal, almost over-concentrated, but nevertheless surprisingly finesse-rich Maximum.

The other 2014 top places are shared by Bründlmayer's Käferberg and Spiegel "Vincent", once again rather delicate and elegant despite all their concentration, with the much more powerful and flavourful Lamm and the lighter, compact, incredibly salty-mineral Renner from Schloss Gobelsburg. The latter is available at a farm-gate price that is best interpreted as a Christmas present in this class.

But this is by no means the end of the top vintages in the Kamptal. They are followed by a cool, tart and very mineral Grub and the somewhat warmer and more powerful, dark and compact, still somewhat closed Lamm by Hannes Hirsch, the wines of Rudolf Rabl, who perhaps produced the series of his career so far in 2014 and can present three first-class Veltliners with Dechant, Käferberg and Schenkenbichl and last but not least Alwin Jurtschitsch with his tart, very mineral Käferberg and Schenkenbichl.

The 2013 vintage was also quite prominently represented in the current samples. Fred Loimer's bone-dry, almost cold-looking, polished "Spiegel", which grew over the days and possibly still hasn't shown everything it has in it, Michaela Allram's not quite dry-looking, yet taut and complex Renner, the idiosyncratic, fleshy, powerful "Reserve", aged for 18 months in barrels, The Reserve from Kemetner, aged for 18 months in barrels, the astonishingly cool Heiligenstein and Gaisberg from Peter Dolle, Walter Buchegger's juicy and at the same time grippy "Loos" from the Pfeiffenberg, and once again Hiedler with his herbaceous, spicy, melting and mellow Kittmannsberg, which already seems accessible, but from experience also matures excellently.

Among the likewise excellent followers are well-known and less well-known names: Allram with 2014 Hasel and 2013 Gaisberg, Hiedler with 2013 Thal and Spiegel, from Jurtschitsch the 13 Loiserberg as well as from Loimer the 14 from the same site, Kemetner's "Alte Reben", Heinz Weixelbaum's 14 Rosengarten and Gaisberg "Wahre Werte", another Rosengarten, but this time again 2013 and from the Waldschütz winery, the somewhat sweet, juicy 14s Kittmannsberg and "Grand Grü" from Steininger as well as "Selektion" and "Terra Mobile" from Oskar Hager, who also presented a tremendously animating, yet extremely inexpensive basic Veltliner with his "Klassik".

All 69 Kamptal DAC Veltliners tasted this year can be found here.

Riesling - good to great

Let's move on to the Riesling. I haven't tasted the Wachau yet, that's coming up next week, but so far the Kamptal is the only region in Austria where the Rieslings of the 2014 vintage are on par with the Veltliners.

In one case, even far more than that. The Heiligenstein "Alte Reben" from Bründlmayer is nothing less than a sensation, one of the greatest Rieslings I have come across so far, but it will not meet the expectations of many Riesling freaks because it does not jump out at you from the glass, it is not exuberantly fruity, but tremendously subtle, fine, deep and complex, Whoever deals with it, dimensions open up that are said to be associated with the variety, but which are only very, very rarely actually encountered in this form.

The shadow of this wine is large, no question, but it would be foolish not to look for what can be found in it. The deep, densely woven, distinctly spicy and multi-layered Heiligenstein from Schloss Gobelsburg, for example, also one of the greatest Rieslings of the vintage in Austria, Hiedler's as always rather powerful "Maximum", Fred Loimer's distinctly taut Seeberg in need of ripening, Schenkenbichl and Steinhaus by Rabl, Hiedler's Gaisberg as well as Michaela Allram's Heiligenstein, as so often on the sweeter side, but at the same time as exciting, deep and mineral as you would expect from a Heiligenstein.

In Riesling, too, there are many wines behind the absolute top that are worth every bit of attention. In addition to the big names, some less famous wineries have once again brought remarkable wines to the bottle. Weixelbaum's are Renner and Gaisberg, Steininger's Seeberg and Steinhaus, Waldschütz's Wechselberg and Kemetner's Ried Karl, which has been very reliable for years. Sax and Nastl also did very well, both with their Rieslings from Steinmassl, which cannot deny their relationship due to the hints of black berries typical of the site.

All 31 Kamptal DAC Rieslings tasted this year

What else is there

The other varieties had a hard time this year; many were not presented to us at all, especially the reds were rare. The best red wine producer of the area, Kurt Angerer, unfortunately stayed away from the tasting.

So here are just a few recommendations: Michaela Allram makes it clear with her Pinot Blanc "Papageno" as well as the Pinot Gris Reserve that she not only masters Riesling and Veltliner, and Heinz Weixelbaum lonely holds the flag of Sauvignon in the wind with his "True Values".

Click here for the Kamptaler producers in the wine guide and all the wines tasted last year.

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