Exceptionality of Austrian wine
“Small is beautiful” – that is what best describes Austrian wine, when put into international perspective. Austrian wine is one of the most interesting phenomena happening in the world right now. Wines from Austria are now highly appreciated both by wine experts and wine lovers all around the world and can be found on almost every refined wine list. Expat Life recently interviewed Günther Sucher, Austrian Commercial Counsellor and Head of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Bangkok to learn what is it that makes Austrian wine so special.
Wine critics across the globe appreciate that Austrian wines are exceptionally delicious and pair wonderfully with different kind of food, making Austrian wine sheer drinking pleasure. Mr. Sucher has been promoting Austrian wines in Thailand over almost 6 years, and he explained, “Austrian wines have a compact body and climate driven freshness which makes them an excellent partner for Thai cuisine. Take for example Som Tam, a dish that combines sweetness, fruity acidity and above all fiery spice, which poses a particular challenge to the wine accompaniment. Austrian wines can cope with these challenges, for instance Grüner Veltliner which is high in extract and therefore tames the incendiary spice with agility, highlights the flavour of the coriander leaves (cilantro) and proves itself a lively companion with its fresh apple toned fruit.”
Wine making dated back centuries
The diverse climates and soils of Austria provide ideal conditions to produce the world’s finest wines despite being a landlocked “Alpine” territory. The first findings of wine producing in Austria dated back to the Celts and Romans (700 BC). “Gruner Veltliner”, the Austrian flagship wine, is another good historical example. It covers 37% of Austria’s vineyards today, was created in the 10th century. Austria produces 1% of the global wine production and 30% of this production is exported. After Germany and Switzerland, the U.S. is the third biggest export market for Austrian wine.
Perfect accompaniment to many cuisines
Austrian wines offer the perfect accompaniment to an array of dishes and food styles, from Central European to Mediterranean cuisine, right through to Asian and Oriental dishes. This is due to their compact and elegant body and fresh style; the result of climatic conditions.
Mr. Sucher advocated, “For Thai cuisine which is rich in fiery chilli, the right wine requires sweetness and extract, to lessen the searing heat. Robust Grüner Veltliner or Riesling with well integrated acidity are nicely suited, as are indigenous and full-bodied Rotgipfler, Zierfandler or Roter Veltliner. The residual sugar and fruit of a Beerenauslese also cool the fire. At the same time a robust Chardonnay (barrique) is great with prawns, lobster or chicken in curry. Its velvety tones attenuate the hot spices and emphasise the succulent sweetness of the seafood. Generally speaking, wines should not have too much acidity or tannin, and white wines ought to have a bit of bottle age.”
Austrian wine producing regions
Wine producing region is concentrated on the Eastern part of Austria as the West of the country is covered by mountainous terrain. The biggest of the four wine growing regions is lower Austria, which covers 60% of the total vineyards. This is home to Austria’s top notch white wines, above all Grüner Veltliner but also fruity Rieslings and some more ancient varieties like the Zierfandler or Rotgipfler.
The second biggest wine growing region is found in Burgenland, which offers ideal conditions for full bodied red wines like Blaufraenkisch, St. Laurent and Zweigelt, but also delicious dessert wines like the Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese. The third biggest wine producing region is found in the Southern province of Styria. With around 10% of Austria’s vineyards, Styria makes fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller, Welschriesling and Weissburgunder. Last but not least, Vienna is the fourth wine growing region. No other capital in the world can compete with the 1,600 acres of vineyards. The Danube River going through Vienna provides ideal conditions for the Riesling and other white wine varieties.
Austrian wine tasting in Thailand
ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA organised the first stand-alone Austrian Wine Tasting in Thailand on March 23rd 2021, at the SO Hotel in Bangkok.
Around 150 wines from 47 leading Austrian wine producers from all wine regions in Austria were presented at this unique tasting. Mr. Sucher is extremely pleased with the growing interest of Thai industry experts in Austrian wine, “More than 150 representatives of the Thai wine industry joined our Austrian Wine Tasting, which is a great success during COVID-times. I am confident that we will find more Austrian wines in restaurants and hotels after this tasting.”
According to Mr. Sucher, “About 1/3 of the wines presented at the event were already available in Thailand, 2/3 of the wineries were looking for new partners in order to enter the Thai market. The wines were jointly presented with eight local importers and distributors (Black Forest Distribution, FIN – Fabulous Is Needed, GFour International, IWS – Independent Wine & Spirit, italasia, Napaphan Wine Cellar, Siam Winery and Wine Garage), that already have Austrian wine in stock.”
He further commented, “Austrian wine goes very well with (spicy) Thai cuisine, as well as with Asian food in general. Up to now, the availability of Austrian wines in Thailand has been quite limited. Wines from our small country, located in the heart of Europe, have been little known in this part of the world so far. Therefore, the aim of the Austrian wine tasting was to increase the number of local distributors of Austrian wine, so that step-by-step customers may find Austrian wines in more and more upper class hotels and restaurants. Additionally, the event was designated to enlarge the network of distributors that directly supply to private wine connoisseurs in Thailand.”
The event exclusively targeted professionals of the Thai wine and hospitality industry, especially importers, distributors, F&B managers of hotels and restaurants, sommeliers and journalists. The highlight of the event was the exclusive trade session and wine tasting, where wine professionals discovered the unique taste of 47 Austrian wine producers. Visitors had the opportunity to explore more than 150 different wines from all regions of Austria!
In addition, selected sommeliers of leading restaurants and importers participated in an Austrian wine master class. During this session, the participants explored a variety of typical Austrian grapes, presented by wine expert Christophe Mercier of Wine and Spirit IQ, and experienced the full spectrum that Austrian wines have to offer.
To conclude on the interview, Mr. Sucher encouraged our readers, “Whoever has not managed to taste Austrian wine in Bangkok is cordially invited to visit one of the importers and distributors that already have Austrian wine in stock. In contrast to better known wine producing countries, family run wineries dominate the Austrian winemaking scene, which is why the focus is not on mass production. Nonetheless, Austria’s wines are excellent value for money in all the profitable price bands. Wine lovers, please be prepared to be amazed by the unique and distinctive flavours that Austrian wine has to offer!”
About ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA:
ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA, with around 100 offices in over 70 countries, provides a broad range of intelligence and business development services for both Austrian companies and their international business partners. Around 800 employees around the world can assist you in locating Austrian suppliers and business partners. We organise about 1,200 events every year to bring business contacts together. Other services provided by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA offices range from introductions to Austrian companies looking for importers, distributors or agents to providing in depth information on Austria as a business location and assistance in entering the Austrian market.