Austrian wines have exploded on to the wine scene in the past few years, but can often leave unfamiliar consumers confused and overwhelmed due to the plethora of Grüner Veltiner and Blaufränkisch wines – many organic, most from small, single vineyard plantings. One of the best resources Austrian wine consumers can turn to are those that import the wines – the ones that really know them inside and out, know the market and know the potential each has to become your new favorite wine.
This month we sat down with The Barterhouse, Inc. Here’s what they had to say:
What makes Austrian wine so unique? What makes it stand out from other regions? Austrian wine is something that was once a very “niche” wine not known to the rest of the world. The cold climate and diverse soil allow Austrian wine to take on everything from a crisp, mineral personality of a grüner to a smoky, creamy pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon. What people don’t know is how strict the wine rules of Austria are. If it isn’t good enough, it doesn’t get bottled. That allows us to distribute only the best from Austria and we are proud to do it.
What influenced your decision to work with Austrian wines? As stated above, we wanted to help put Austria on the map. We believe in the superieur quality of the wines and want New York to be able to enjoy it with us.
Which producers do you distribute? Highlights? We distribute Leo Hillinger (Burgenland), Anton Bauer and Paul Direder (anton’s protegé) from Wagram, Tegernseerhof (Wachau) and Steininger ( Kamptal). I can’t choose a favorite, we have such extraordinary wines from each producer, but Hillinger blaüfrankisch Leithberg and Tegernseerhof T26 grüner are standouts.
Which states are you distributed in? NY, NJ, DE, CT, MD, PA, MI, VA, Washington DC.
What’s your favorite Austrian varietal? Region? Why? Grüner, definitely from any region. It’s the indigenous grape there and the best representation of the country as a wine making whole.
What’s your favorite food & wine pairing for the season? Our favorite “traditional” pairing is of course, grüner and asparagus. We had a great lunch with one of the Steininger wine makers where she paired sparkling grüner (called Sekt in Austria) with asparagus and cod. It was amazing. We are also enjoying Anton Bauer’s Wagram pinot noir with a lovely prociuitto and fig flatbread served at Todd English’s Olives restaurant.
Where do you see the future of Austrian wine heading? It is gaining a major foothold in the industry. A year ago, there wasn’t much to be said about it, but now Wine Specatator features it and there was just a three page spread in the latest issue of Tasting Table magazine.
Anything else you’d like to add? Just try different wine regions, even if they aren’t well known. Austria has definitely proven that taste and word of mouth can catapult a country’s wine into the spotlight. You could easily find the next big thing in the back of a wine shop.