If you hold a glass of wine at the lawns of the Austrian Trade Commissioner residence in Lutyen’s Delhi, chances are that bumblebees may want to befriend you. Don’t be wary though, as they come visiting for the aromas pervading the area due to the frequent wine tastings happening at the place!
Austrian wines ready for tasting at the Master Class Metaphors apart, the Austrians have indeed unleashed a blitzkrieg of their quality wines in the Indian wine space, seeking to capture their share of the growing Indian goblet. I recently attended their second master class in New Delhi, within six months of attending the inaugural one, and both tastings- though similar in format- had distinct USPs by virtue of the diverse range of wines.
The event, aptly named so for its partly sit-down guided tasting format, was conducted by Sommelier Gurjit Singh Barry of Wi-Not, a well known beverages concern based at New Delhi. Christian Dworan, Marketing Manager from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board was specially present to highlight Austria and its wine regions as a precursor to the tasting.
According to Shanay Hubmann, the Austrian Deputy Trade Commissioner in New Delhi, the master classes are being organised to raise awareness of the quality and variety of Austrian wines in India, with a view to help Austrian wineries in entering the Indian market by stimulating their demand. Shanay also brought out that as a start, three such events were planned in Delhi- the last one in the series scheduled to take place early in November this year.
Participative, energetic tasting
A whole lot of wines across the Austrian wine quality pyramid (see Boxes 1 and 2 towards the end of this post) were available winery-wise for tasting at the stands. These ranged from international as well as Austrian native varietals representing a diverse portfolio. I found it particularly interesting to get a practical feel of the Austrian classification system by sampling the different categories in a vertical graduation, starting from a Spätlese and finishing with a Trockenbeerenauslese.
Out of 59 wines on offer, 17 were tasted on the stage and the remaining were available for the guests to explore in a walk around tasting. Here are some that I liked in particular:
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (white)
Tasting notes: A refreshing straw-coloured wine with grassy and white fruit aromas accompanied by spice overtones. Complex palate of white fruits and gooseberries, with a peppery finish.
Wine: Wiener Gemischter Satz 2013 (white)
‘Wiener’ indicates a wine from Vienna, and Gemischter Satz is the term used for a mix of grapes used for the wine.
Tasting Notes: Light golden-coloured crystal-clear wine with unmistakable aromas of tropical fruits, most prominent being lychee. A well balanced acidity accompanied by ripe fruity flavours on the palate made it refreshing yet delectable.
Wine: Grüner Veltliner “Schneiderberg” 2012 (white)
Tasting Notes: Light gold colour with a floral, honeyed and spicy nose. A complex palate, seemingly off dry due to intense fruity character that was well accompanied by the supportive acidity. A lingering spicy finish.
Wine: Kracher Cuvée Auslese 2012 (sweet)
Auslese is a wine quality term literally meaning ‘select harvest’. This is done by picking grapes at full ripeness at the bunch level resulting in quality wines.
Tasting Notes: A blend of Chardonnay and Welschriesling, this wine had medium gold colour with green highlights and floral and tropical fruit aromas. The palate had flavours of quince, melon and white pepper along with a long finish. A well balanced sweet wine.
Winery: Weingut Bründlmayer
Wine: Bründlmayer St. Laurent Ried Ladner 2011(red)
St Laurent is a black grape variety typical to Austria and is quite close in characteristics to Pinot Noir.
Tasting Notes: A medium ruby colour with rounded tannins and flavours of raspberries and plums. Quite juicy on the palate, the wine had a medium spicy finish that makes it ideal with casual meals where not much planning may be required.
Wine: Wellanschitz Zweigelt Classic 2012 (red)
Tasting Notes: Made from another Austrian native grape varietal Blauer Zweigelt, it is a medium purple coloured wine with inky highlights. The nose indicated oak usage that happened to mask the other aromas, maybe because the wine was served on the colder side. The palate however had good structure and flavours of black fruits with the oak getting reaffirmed. I would like to revisit this wine sometime again with ample time on my side.
Wine: Wellanschitz Cabernet Sauvignon “Rüsselgrund” 2011
Tasting Notes: A deep ruby wine with a garnet rim and appetizing pastry shop aromas (vanilla, chocolate, fruits et al). A well-structured red with flavours of blackcurrants and spice and a long finish. One of the best reds of the evening.
Considering the overall quality of wines presented at the last two tastings and the apparent response of the importers and F&B professionals at these events, Austrian wines may well be poised to delight the Indian wine lovers in a big way. It however remains to be seen as to how these wines are positioned in the price-sensitive and regulatory Indian market to fare against the competition. As for the Indian wine lover, getting spoilt for choices may well have found a new benchmark.
As for the bumblebee bit, it wasn’t entirely a metaphor!