Constance is my source for interesting Austrian wines, and I was more than happy to try a couple of new bottles. These were sent as a promotion to pair Austrian wines with Asian cuisine as part of the Year of the Rabbit celebrations. I contemplated making a Chinese rabbit dish, but given my limited cooking skills when it comes to an entire continent, I didn't feel like a first attempt here. (I'll get around to studying the culinary methods of the Far East one of these days, stay tuned.) Instead, these wines got paired with normal Benito fare like fried catfish and linguini with clams. Since Constance always includes a little gift inside the box, this time I received a nice pair of chopsticks that have a slow twist carved in the top. I promise I'll use these for something very soon.
2009 Weingut Christ Wiener Gemischter Satz
$24, 12% abv.
This is a field blend made within the city limits of Vienna. (The mind reels at the thought of vines grown between the monuments of Washington, D.C.) Originally these Vienna wines were consumed in local taverns as table wines, but recently they've become popular and even trendy. I don't know the precise grapes or percentages. One source suggests that the blend is Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger, Riesling, Weissburgunder, Welschriesling, Traminer, Roter Veltliner, Silvaner, and Zierfandler, which just happen to be the names of Mozart's first cousins. You'll see the phrase Gemischter Satz translated as "mixed sentence", but that's not accurate. It's just the German phrase for "field blend", and might be literally translated as "mixed type or style".
This wine has a bewitching aroma. Wet rocks, honey, talc, and vanilla. Tart beginning, slightly fizzy mouthfeel (though no bubbles are present in the glass), and firm acidity. Dry as a bone with little to no fruit. The finish is short and stony, and Gott im Himmel, I love me a rocky wine.
2010 Domäne Wachau Terrassen Federspiel Grüner Veltliner
Wachau Valley, Austria
$18, 12% abv.
Federspiel is the middle grade of the Wachau classification, between Steinfeder (table wines) and Smaragd (the finest wines), and Terrassen refers to the terraced vineyards found in the valley.
Coming from a region directly west of Vienna, this Grüner Veltliner has a huge fruit presence, more so than I've ever seen from this grape. Lots of cantaloupe and pineapple, dry with a tart, long finish. Later, at room temperature, there's a little wet limestone character, but the fruit continues to dominate and the acidity is more pronounced. I felt that it worked well with the linguine and clams, although it should be good with all sorts of seafood dishes. You'll want something salty or with lots of strong flavors to stand up to the wine, because it would completely cover up something like simple poached salmon.
Both wines are enclosed with a convenient screwcap that bears the red circle and white striped banderol of Austrian Qualitätswein.
Note: These wines were received as samples.