Willi Klinger on Austria Part 1
This show was published 18 July 2011
Willi Klinger represents the Austrian Wine Marketing board. In this first interview we find out about the history of winemaking in Austria and talk about the most planted grape variety Gruner Veltliner.
Austria's wine history goes back to pre-Roman times but when the Roman empire collapsed wine production went into decline and it wasn't until the Middle Ages, with the influence of the French monasteries that the country's wine culture saw a revival. 11th and 12th century monks came from Burgundy brought their wine making expertise to Austria and planted vineyards around the Danube area and the wine industry took off. Nowadays Austria, a small country with a population of 8 million, produces 250 million litres of wine - about 1% of world production. Most of this is drunk domestically but some is exported and some wine (70 million litres) is imported. In 1985 the anti-freeze scandal brought Austrian wine to world's attention but in actual fact exports weren't significant and the scandal, although damaging Austria's reputation, was a turning point for the country. Reliable producers took this as a starting point and began to focus on improving the quality of their wines. Willi compares the quality of Austria's Gruner Veltiner (30% of plantings) to the BMW 3, 5 and 7 series with the late harvest dry style being the 7 series and amongst the best quality to be found in the world! We also hear about Zweigelt, a red grape, which accounts for 12% of plantings, and the climate of the wine regions which are located between similar latitudes to Burgundy and Champagne but have quite continental climates.
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