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Pittnauer Pittnauski, Burgenland 2015

Red Wine from Austria
A delicious Austrian blend of merlot, zweigelt, blaufränkisch and St Laurent which is mellow, brooding and showing complex signs of maturity. The nose offers a nice combination of plummy fruit and savoury forest-floor notes while the palate is full of black and red-fruit and spices.
Price: £17.00 Bottle
Price: £102.00 Case of 6
In Stock
Code: AA3371

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • 13% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2025
  • 75cl
  • Screwcap

Austria

Austria has a long history of making fine wines, but with the country’s wines undergoing a renaissance in recent years, now is arguably the best time to get to know the diverse and delicious bottles on offer.

There is evidence that vines were being cultivated in Austria for the production of wine by the Celts, even before the Romans. Austria was, rather surprisingly, the third-largest producer of wine globally in the 1920s, mainly producing and exporting simple light white wines. In more recent times the country has had to deal with the infamous ‘anti-freeze’ scandal of the 1980s when a handful of bulk producers were found to have adulterated their wines with ethylene glycol to sweeten their wines.

The problems of the 1980s hit the country’s industry hard, but also had the effect of initiating the most wide-ranging quality control measures being implemented to ensure that this sort of disaster could never happen again. The industry was further reinvigorated as larger and less...
Austria has a long history of making fine wines, but with the country’s wines undergoing a renaissance in recent years, now is arguably the best time to get to know the diverse and delicious bottles on offer.

There is evidence that vines were being cultivated in Austria for the production of wine by the Celts, even before the Romans. Austria was, rather surprisingly, the third-largest producer of wine globally in the 1920s, mainly producing and exporting simple light white wines. In more recent times the country has had to deal with the infamous ‘anti-freeze’ scandal of the 1980s when a handful of bulk producers were found to have adulterated their wines with ethylene glycol to sweeten their wines.

The problems of the 1980s hit the country’s industry hard, but also had the effect of initiating the most wide-ranging quality control measures being implemented to ensure that this sort of disaster could never happen again. The industry was further reinvigorated as larger and less quality-oriented producers went out of business, leaving old sites available for a new generation of winemakers and the original fine winefamily producers.

Austria's wine regions are confined to the east of the country where the Alps settle into the great Pannonian Plain, running north to south along the many borders from the Czech Republic in the north to Slovenia in the south. The climate here is continental, characterised by cold winters, hot dry summers, and often a large diurnal temperature flux with hot days, and cold nights. This is perfect for ripening a large range of grape varieties and retaining acidity and fresh aromas in white wines.

Broadly there are three major regions: Niederösterreich in the north, Burgenland and Steiermark to the south. Within these regions are a further 16 smaller DACs (Districtus Austriae Controllatus).

Niederösterreich (27,128ha) is known for high-quality white wine production, and most of the vineyards are focused along the banks of the Danube and its tributaries. Nearly half of all vines in this large area are grüner veltliner although world-class rieslings are also produced. Sub regions to look out for here include Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau, Wagram and Weinviertel.

Burgenland (13,840ha) is the area of vineyards focused around Lake Neusiedl – Central Europe's second-largest lake which straddles the Austrian-Hungarian border. Full-bodied and rich red wines are produced under the influence of the hot continental climate. The complex soil structure throughout the hills surrounding the lake, the various aspects available and large diurnal temperature change allows fine mineral-driven reds to be made. The reds produced use local grape varieties which are suited to the terroir - look out for blaufränkisch, zweigelt and St Laurent. The natural humidity caused by the lake can also lead to high levels of botrytis making this an excellent source of high-quality dessert wines.

Steiermark (Styria) (4,240h) the smallest Austrian area is developing a great reputation for its steely sauvignons and fresh aromatic white wines. Although many of the best wines are made in such small quantities that they are never exported, this is a region to watch.

In terms of grapes, grüner veltliner, native to Austria and Central Europe, is the king of the whites in terms of volume. It is turned into everything from light, thirst-quenching wines to complex barrel-aged stars. It is a great food wine and is finding its way on to many more restaurant wine lists around the world.

Riesling is less widely planted, at only 5% of Austria’s production, but makes some of the country’s finest wines, particularly on the steep slopes of the Wachau Valley along the banks of the Danube. Riesling's common style in Austria is bone-dry, elegant and steely with fresh citrus flavours.

Chardonnay (sometimes locally called morillon) and sauvignon blanc are increasingly planted and are already showing themselves to be hugely promising. The highly aromatic scheurebe, a German import, has a foothold in Steiermark making peach and blackcurrant-leaf-scented wines that marry well with spicy foods.

Reds make up about a third of Austrian plantings. 13 varieties are permitted, including both the dominant indigenous varieties and those more recently introduced such as cabernet and pinot noir. Zweigelt is the most commonly planted, making up 15% of Austria’s red vines, and is a 1920s cross between blaufränkisch and St Laurent. It makes relatively light reds generally, with sour-cherry and redcurrant flavours supported by fine tannins and a spicy linear finish.

Blaufränkisch (pronounced blaou-FREN-kish) is a late-ripening indigenous variety can create wines with dense tannins, high acidity and concentration that can age well for many years. Generally the wines have notes of blackberries, ripe cherries or plums. St Laurent wines are often confused with pinot noir as they can have a similar profile: red-berry perfume, light elegant and crisp. However, St Laurent is often used to add elegance to a blend.
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Weingut Gerhard & Brigitte Pittnauer

Gerhard Pittnauer took on the running of his family estate at the tender age of 18 and has learned on the job. Being self-taught has clearly done him no harm and he is increasingly recognised for the high quality of his wines.

The estate can be found at Gols in Burgenland, at the eastern extremity of Austria where it borders Hungary. Close by is the vast Neusiedlersee, a huge shallow lake that dominates the landscape and provides unique conditions for some of Austria’s finest wines, moderating the heat of long summer days and the cold of a Central European winter.

Gerhard runs the estate with his wife Brigitte, and they farm along biodynamic principles, eschewing chemicals and utilising herbal sprays for the health of the soil, and they now use ambient yeasts rather than cultured ones in the fermentation. The Pittnauers specialise in St. Laurent, a dark-skinned aromatic red variety with similarities to pinot noir, and pinot noir itself but also make increasingly impressive zweigelt, blaufränkisch and chardonnay.

In 2001 they moved into a newly built winery in the middle of their vines, enabling them to get the fruit harvested and vinified in as fresh a condition as possible. In hot vintages the Pittnauers will even hire refrigerated trucks in order to cool the grapes before vinification.

The aim of the change to biodynamics, the use of natural yeasts and the care and attention given to the vines and the fruit is the expression of the terroir. As far as Gerhard is concerned...
Gerhard Pittnauer took on the running of his family estate at the tender age of 18 and has learned on the job. Being self-taught has clearly done him no harm and he is increasingly recognised for the high quality of his wines.

The estate can be found at Gols in Burgenland, at the eastern extremity of Austria where it borders Hungary. Close by is the vast Neusiedlersee, a huge shallow lake that dominates the landscape and provides unique conditions for some of Austria’s finest wines, moderating the heat of long summer days and the cold of a Central European winter.

Gerhard runs the estate with his wife Brigitte, and they farm along biodynamic principles, eschewing chemicals and utilising herbal sprays for the health of the soil, and they now use ambient yeasts rather than cultured ones in the fermentation. The Pittnauers specialise in St. Laurent, a dark-skinned aromatic red variety with similarities to pinot noir, and pinot noir itself but also make increasingly impressive zweigelt, blaufränkisch and chardonnay.

In 2001 they moved into a newly built winery in the middle of their vines, enabling them to get the fruit harvested and vinified in as fresh a condition as possible. In hot vintages the Pittnauers will even hire refrigerated trucks in order to cool the grapes before vinification.

The aim of the change to biodynamics, the use of natural yeasts and the care and attention given to the vines and the fruit is the expression of the terroir. As far as Gerhard is concerned that is his job and it is clear to anyone who tastes his wines that he has taught himself to do it extremely well.
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2015 vintage reviews

Midweek Wines

[This] red proved to be my personal favourite in a recent Wine Society tasting.
Proving that as red wine production gathers pace in new areas so opportunities for “international” varieties open ...

[This] red proved to be my personal favourite in a recent Wine Society tasting.
Proving that as red wine production gathers pace in new areas so opportunities for “international” varieties open up – this wine blends zweigelt with three other varieties that include merlot.
Perfumed and relatively light, [this wine] brings us sensational and complex plum and loganberry flavours with cinnamon and green herb components accompanied by sharp acidity but little tannin.

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Brian Elliott

Vinosaurus

A beguiling blend of merlot, zweigelt, blaufränkisch and St Laurent (the latter three, Austrian varieties) from a biodynamic pioneer, there’s a lovely savoury nose of chestnut mushroom and forest...
A beguiling blend of merlot, zweigelt, blaufränkisch and St Laurent (the latter three, Austrian varieties) from a biodynamic pioneer, there’s a lovely savoury nose of chestnut mushroom and forest floor, supported by ripe red plum, cherries and dry herbs. The bright red fruit acidity holds everything in check, the neutral oak adds a lovely textural note, and, given the six years ageing already, it’s actually excellent value. -
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David Kermode

JancisRobinson.com

Very dark garnet with a pale rim. Fully mature nose. Not expensive for a wine that’s nearly six years old. A little bit fragile but satisfying. Round blueberry fruit on the front palate and then...
Very dark garnet with a pale rim. Fully mature nose. Not expensive for a wine that’s nearly six years old. A little bit fragile but satisfying. Round blueberry fruit on the front palate and then the leathery tannins on the end suggest this wine has been held back until they soften. Pretty nice and comforting rather than concentrated.
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16.5/20

The Observer

… wonderfully mellow and mature red blend, a kind of Austrian answer to Bordeaux that punches some distance above its pricing weight.

- David Williams

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