Weather conditions varied greatly between wine regions, but the Austrian 2020 vintage generally brings crisp, aromatic white wines with vibrant acidity and good varietal expression. The country’s red wine heartland fared well and wine enthusiasts can look forward to elegant, cool-climate red wines with juicy fruit, ripe tannins, and moderate alcohol content. The harvest also brought tiny volumes of succulent, sweet wine specialties.
A very dry winter and spring delayed budbreak and progression of vegetation. Abundant rain finally arrived in May and provided soils and vines with necessary moisture. Variable conditions continued in June but pauses between rain showers allowed successful flowering to occur.
Summer temperatures remained mild and precipitation was frequent. Attentive canopy management enhanced aeration and diligent winegrowers could boast of vineyards in splendid condition in mid-August. Then, localised swaths of hail caused damage in certain areas of Wachau, Kremstal and Traisental and a small number of wine villages in Burgenland and Steiermark.
The summery temperatures and sunshine of September ensured beautiful ripening of grapes and boded well for the initiation of the harvest. Unfortunately, heavy rains drenched appellations in Niederösterreich and Steiermark at the end of the month.
Niederösterreich and Wien
Kahlenbergerdorf is a very pittoresque village in the Wien region / Credit: ÖWM - Marcus Wiesner
The robustness of Grüner Veltliner in the vineyard again proved to be a virtue, and the variety brings crisp and fruity wines with moderate alcohol and refreshing acidity in Niederösterreich and Wien. Riesling and Pinot varieties in the “Klassik” and “Gebietswein” (regional wine) categories please with crisp, clear varietal fruit and lip-smacking acidity that provide appetizing drinking pleasure.
The late harvest, single-vineyard white wines and those in the Reserve category required meticulous selection. Quantities are low, but the resulting wines exhibit precision, good structure and dependable ageing potential.
The red wines of Thermenregion and Carnuntum from the varieties Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Sankt Laurent, and Pinot Noir promise light-footed elegance and fine fruitiness reminiscent of the 2016 vintage.
The warm climate in the Mittelburgenland is best suited for red varieties / Credit: ÖWM - Marcus Wiesner
Appellations on both sides of Lake Neusiedl in northern Burgenland escaped the heavy rains of autumn. Precipitation was also not as severe in central and southern Burgenland as in other parts of Austria.
Famed for its ability to produce dry white and red wines as well as noble sweet wines, Burgenland enjoyed an advantageous autumn for all three styles. All white wine varieties exhibit fully ripened fruit and a well-integrated spine of acidity. Yield reductions were a prerequisite for best red wine qualities in this cool vintage. The light-footed grace, fully ripened fine tannins, and succulent fruit of the region’s Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch will excite enthusiasts of elegant, cool-climate red wines. Two and a half centuries of sweet wine expertise ensured that even in a precipitous growing season, luscious wines from the Ruster Ausbruch DAC and the Neusiedlersee DAC could be achieved and even tiny amounts of delicious ice wines were harvested.
The Vulkanland Steiermark DAC is named after the volcanic soils / Credit: ÖWM - Marcus Wiesner
The Gebietswein (regional wine) and Ortswein (village wine) categories please with light white wines with pronounced varietal typicity and racy acid structure. Patient winegrowers that waited for the rains of September to cease were rewarded with wonderfully sunny October days. Meticulous selection of fruit and the willingness to sacrifice volumes, brought single-vineyard wines that are worthy of this region’s high reputation. Particularly successful was the regional hero Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay and the Pinot varieties also brought good results, as did Riesling from the rocky soils of Sausal.