Archive for ‘Austria’

January 23, 2017

Claus Preisinger Basic, 2012

I finally got around to unscrewing a bottle of the Basic, which I picked up after Gismondi gave it 89 points (my “sweet spot” if you will).


Interesting and provocative.  A strange hybrid blend that straddles black forest gateau and steak a la poivre.  Enticing on the nose.  Sweet light peaks contrast with a herbaceous finish.  Not complicated but complex.  Definitely a complement to the usual merry go round of varietals on the table.


(A blend of Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch; who knew?)


Price: $28 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars, not the $20 posted in the review.


Market Liquidity: Nothing I drank in Austria last year was as intriguing as this.

June 23, 2016

Drinking Wine in Istanbul, Vienna, Prague and Madrid


Just got back from three weeks in Europe.  We drank wine in Turkey, Austria, the Czech Republic and Spain.


Istanbul: The first big surprise is that the Turks make some half decent wine.  Some half decent white wine, anyway.  The second big surprise is that the cost is insane, OTC or in a restaurant.  Plonk (because, yes, they make some mediocre wine too) starts at nearly $20 CDN a glass!  Most bottles in a restaurant start at around $40 and the palatable ones are around $50.  I wish I could have done like the Turks, and stuck with Raki, but that would be like eating the unripe, sour green plums that are a delicacy there.


The one surprise was the Kayra Barrel Fermented Sur Lie Chardonnay. We drank a 2012.  We actually drank a number of Kayra wines, but this was the best, refreshing, sharp but not too acidic, nuanced oak, and with lovely notes of violet and green herbs.


Austria: A bomb.  I had my Wine Spectator list in my pocket at all times.  I was on the special lookout for F X Pichler.  I tasted glass after glass of Gruner Velliner and Riesling, from houses you’d recognize and at farmer’s markets with home-style vintners.  And, overall, it was disappointment after disappointment, start to finish.  Nothing had depth, or vigor, or held our interest longer than nanosecond.  I would write that it wasn’t a total disaster, except that even the sacher torte was dry.  The irony?  Probably the best Austrian wine we drank was the Peter Schweiger Gruner on Cathay Pacific, in North America!

st charles scaffoldingYou probably shouldn’t drink and go up the scaffolding elevator at St. Charles anyway.

spaghetti ice cream

Plus, there is always “spaghetti ice cream” instead of wine.

Wachau Riesling

If there was one decent wine we drank, it was a Riesling from Wachau, which was cool, crisp, with a lovely tart finish.


Czech Republic: Cesky-Krumlov, UNESCO heritage site.  Where we saw a waiter take the box wine, remove the box, then squeeze and knead the bag to get every last drop into a glass.

absintheYou can drink cocktails, superbly crafted cocktails, until you’re blue in the face.  Even in tiny tot towns they had bars with crushed ice, regular ice, large ice.  Absinthe was just par for the course.

But wine?  The sorry truth: They make local wine, mainly in boxes, that gives box wine a bad name.  I really wish I could be friendlier, “ribbon for participation Moravia” but there are more duds than not.  However, for whatever weird reason, restaurants around the country carry an amazing array of Italian wine: When was the last time you saw a “choice” of Basilicata at a BC Liquor store?  And the Czechs sell this wine at very reasonable prices.  We had wines from Puglia, Piedmont, Sardegna, Sicily, Veneto, Umbria, hugely accomplished reds, and rarely paid more than $22 CDN (in a restaurant!).

magnifico rosso

Some highlights.  This six year old superb Primitivo was less than $20 in a restaurant.  Add Puglia to the bucket list.


And I sourced this wine in Canada, not in BC, at $14.  It was a tad thin but eminently drinkable, especially, (need I keep emphasizing this? In A Restaurant) at, wait for it, $14 CDN, the same price you pay in a liquor store in SK.  It makes eating out in BC a woeful misery, so many $$$ for mediocrity.

wenceslasKing Wenceslas’ crown.  Yes, that King Wenceslas.


The weird thing is that when we actually spent a few bucks on wine, say more than $25 (in a restaurant) it was good, but not substantially better than the “OK” wines so modestly priced.  This Barbera was on the young side but there was a jammy complexity that was extremely appealing.

field amuse bouche

Amuse bouche at the one Michelin star Field in Prague.  Foie gras macaron and decadent cheese balls.


The alarmingly beautiful Spanish Synagogue in Prague’s old Jewish quarter.

madrid cathedral

Spain: We were only in Madrid.  To say we were in Spain is like saying a trip to NYC is a trip to the US.  But ohmigosh was the wine incredible.  Corner store with vintage Rioja at $10 a bottle.  Whack-a-mole brilliance on restaurant wine lists under $30.  Just for fun one night I bought the Pruno.  You can get it easily at BC Liquor for $28.  We paid less than $25.  It was one phenomenal glass of red after another.  One other sensational thing about Spain is how easy it is to find a wide variety of wonderful white Rioja; that’s a bit of a task back home.  And they bottle some magic.

madrid airport

The very creepy surreal arrival carrels at MAD airport.


We drank a lot of great red wine and some OK white wine, but too numerous start to finish for the blog.  One evening we had an interesting Priorat.  It wasn’t the best red we drank in Spain but (for me) the most interesting, particularly its smoky, woodsy, campfire impression on the palate.


That was at a lovely hard to find restaurant, Bosco de Lobos, in the courtyard garden of the architectural school.


Maybe the wine tasted so good because the ham tasted so good?


We flew home on points, so stopped off at the lounge for a snack.  Iberia had not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven types of sherry in the Velazquez lounge at MAD.  Plus, get this, a wine counter with a wide array of Spanish whites and reds.

night flight

I’m not big on flying, but a little Deutz champagne at 39,000 feet helps.


June 17, 2015

Weingut Walter Buchegger Reserve Leopold Gruner Vetliner, 2013

With a summery spring upon is, it’s a season of simpler dinners and lighter wines.  We cleaned out the fridge for an Elaine Benes Big Salad and served it alongside a light Austrian white.


Weingut Walter Buchegger Reserve Leopold Gruner Vetliner, 2013

This GV didn’t wow us as much as the Riesling, but the crisp, light, ethereal-ness of this delectable white disappeared faster than I could take notes.  I am, and this is absolutely serious, I am planning a trip to Vienna next year based solely on how good these few bottles from Buchegger have been.


Price: Something in USD.  $22?


Market Liquidity: If only I could find a bed this comfortable.

May 11, 2015

Weingut Walter Buchegger, Moosburgerin Riesling, 2013

Moosburgerin Riesling 2013

Delectable. Stunningly accomplished. Gun metal, apple, citrus pith, kumquat, a tart acidic kick and a long blossom finish. Think Austria taking medal after medal on the slopes, then imagine a cheese plate by the fire and this lovely white.


Hugely satisfying; aperitif, food friendly, palate cleanser. It cost a few pennies but no regrets. A pleasing/pleasant 13% alcohol content to boot.


Price: $15 USD (or, with conversion and tax, $30 CDN)


Market Liquidity: Je ne regrette rien.

November 29, 2011

Domaene Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2010

Polished.  Refreshing and tangy.  For some weird reason I think if the 7 Dwarfs made home brew this would be it: Very sharp, zesty, pronounced citric acid, pleasant finish, appealing to a diverse group, nothing avant-garde.  Dry without a hint of sugar.  Eminently drinkable.  Lilke basic black with pearls.  Classy white without pretension but certainly not of the pinot gris-viognier vogue at present and maybe, in that respect, lost on some.  This is no “skinny jeans.”


Price: $19.99 at Everything Wine or BC Liquor; $18.99 at EW with the case discount.


Market Liquidity: Nice bottle to find chilled in the fridge.