The sometimes slightly higher acidity is optimally integrated and brings the necessary freshness and liveliness that consumers expect from Styrian wine. In order to be able to press these qualities, it was necessary not to start the harvest too early, but to make use of the entire splendid September and the first weeks of October. After a late budding due to an undercooled spring, the Styrian winegrowers were happy about a somewhat later but perfect blossoming of the vines in best conditions. This circumstance laid the foundation and the golden autumn was the encore for the fifth top vintage in a row.
The main harvest in Vulkanland Steiermark and in Southern Steiermark went like lightning. Due to the perfect grape material, no further selection was necessary after the pre-harvest. Sugar gradation and acidity are in an optimal balance, and the clear fruit expression, elegance and race of the wines are already inspiring. In Western Styria, too, it was important to wait patiently for the main harvest, and then the Sauvignon Blancs grew into expressive wines with a strong character of the terroir.
Depending on the geographical origin, the regional wines show more vegetal freshness in the form of pyrazines in addition to pronounced exotic notes. Local wines, on the other hand, are currently showing an expressiveness that still requires some ageing time in terms of alcohol integration as well as tannin harmony, and in some cases still appears reductive. A time that is now making itself felt in the local wines of the previous vintage in an extremely harmonious and characteristically positive way!
Styria is a mountainous wine-growing country, the most mountainous wine-growing region in Austria, packed onto a foothill of the Alps. Here the roads are constantly going up, down or along one of the many ridges. Viticulture here is hard work, comparable to mountain farming; winegrowing here can hardly be mechanised, the harvest and the often tedious preparatory work have to be done by hand. More than a quarter of the hillside vineyards have a slope of between 40 and 70 per cent, and another 62 per cent of the vineyards have a slope of more than 26 per cent. This is why the slogan "Wine from the mountain. With hand and heart." is not just marketing, but lived reality.
The DAC system of origin Styria stands for "wine with protected origin" and offers outstanding wines with a guarantee of origin. The Styrian DAC areas of Südsteiermark, Vulkanland and Weststeiermark were the first areas in Austria where hand-harvesting of the grapes was made compulsory and where the local and single vineyard wines are in the foreground. Styrian wines are often harvested on slopes with extreme inclination. More than half of the vineyard area in Styria is mountain winegrowing with slopes of sometimes extreme inclination.
In order to guarantee ripening and development time, regional wines come onto the market from 1 March, local and single vineyard wines from 1 May after the harvest.
The first, broadest and most comprehensive level of the Styrian DAC pyramid are the DAC area wines, the young, fresh and primary-fruity wines from the three DAC regions Südsteiermark DAC, Vulkanland Steiermark DAC and Weststeiermark DAC. They should each convey a first, grounded impression of the entire terroir (i.e. soils, climate, cellar and craft) of the respective region and depict the respective grape variety or the grape varieties of a possible cuvée in the greatest possible clarity in terms of taste.
The middle level of the pyramid contains the local wines. These are wines from the respective municipalities and growing regions of the associated DAC areas. The grapes must come from the respective villages and associated municipalities. Terroir is particularly prominent in these wines.
The highest level of the DAC pyramid of origin is formed by the Styrian single vineyard wines. Each vineyard has its own character, which is composed of the orientation, the sun exposure and the soil. The grapes of the wines come from a single vineyard (Lage) The winegrowers cultivate one or more vineyards (Lagen). Sometimes several winegrowers share one vineyard (Lage).
With fuller-bodied wines, which often show more of exotic fruits such as mango or passion fruit, the use of similar aromas will create beautiful connections. In any case, Sauvignon Blanc with its spicy aromatics complements fried or grilled fish, Styrian fried chicken or dishes with tomatoes or their sauces. Likewise dishes with seafood or sushi.
For Sauvignon Blanc, a rather narrow glass with a high goblet is recommended so that the aromas can focus. For matured and single vineyards wines, the glass can be medium in size and have a high goblet so that the intense aroma can unfold.
When it comes to the right maturity for drinking, it is best to stick to the origin: regional wines are usually most enjoyable in the first two years after the harvest, while local wines can develop stably in the bottle for up to five years. The great single vineyards of Styria then really play their trump cards and can mature into highly complex wines over many more years.
The Styrian wine-growing regions are happy to welcome visitors! Both accommodation and gastronomy offer a wide range of options. From the simple Buschenschank with room rental to the luxury domicile and gourmet restaurants, there is something for every taste and every wallet. On the eight wine routes of Styria, scenic highlights and other excursion destinations await discovery - and of course always: excellent wines!
Header image: ©OeWM/Robert-Herbst