"Times were hard but now they're changing…"

by Katie Pizzuto on May 13, 2010

in Austrian Wine,Sparkling Wine

So which is it that you want first, the good news or the bad news? Tough nuggies, my choice. The bad news is that Austria is unfortunately still an under-appreciated wine region. The good news? That Austria is still an under-appreciated wine region. So while it pisses me off to no end that these guys’ wines aren’t getting the recognition they deserve yet, its their relative obscurity that keeps their prices at bay and that tickles me pink. And when those said wines happen to be bubbles, well, I’m all shits and giggles, and their struggle for appreciation doesn’t hurt so much anymore.

I was sent a bottle of Szigeti’s sparkling Grüner Veltliner Brut NV (a Winebow import) a few weeks back as a welcome to Spring. I considered the option of sabering the bottle like Peter Szigeti did in the photo, but the thought of losing a thumb or worse yet losing the bottle of wine (coupled by the crippling fact that I don’t own a sabre anyway) made it not-so-much worth the risk. My thumb thanked me, as did my palate because the bubbles were fantastic. Not OK, not enjoyable…fantastic. It had a huge nose with scents of crisp apple and baked bread notes. Tons of bubbles danced in the glass and though it was graceful in its lightness with a peppery, smoky hit, it still maintained its complexity and had a bright finish. Totally food friendly. And just to make sure I wasn’t overstating myself, I let the last bit of wine go flat and then retasted. That’s when most flaws will slap you upside the head. That’s when sweet, sugary messes show their true colors. That’s when you know if you’ve been had. But the still wine tasted like the lovely GV it was supposed to taste like. Price: About $20

Not long after, I received Szigeti’s other 2 sparklers: a Rosé and their Cuvee Prestige Brut NV. Their elegant rosé is a blend of two little-known Austrian grapes (at least little-known in the US), Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. It was rich and bursting with flavor, with plenty of strawberry notes, but it was bone dry. Price: About $30. The Cuvee Prestige is again much like a cremant, with tons of tiny bubbles. It had a beautiful cherry/floral nose and fresh acidity. Price: About $27.

I realize I’m overdosing you guys on Austria at this point, but if you’re looking for some fantastic, well-made sparklers that A. don’t cost an arm and a leg and B. aren’t your average, ubiquitous bottles (most of which are terribly flawed anyway) I beg you to seek out these Szigeti wines, particularly the sparkling Grüner if you really want a treat. And seriously, if you want to hear about nothing but California cabernet, Argentine malbec and Italian sangiovese you’re in the wrong place anyhow, so go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don May 13, 2010

OK, so I’m guessing it is too much to expect that these would be available from Cost Plus World Market? Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’m SOL.

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2 Katie Pizzuto May 14, 2010

You know, Don, you CAN buy online brother! Thanks to the internet you almost never have to be SOL.

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3 castello May 14, 2010

I want some.
I have been sabering lots of bubbles lately. You don’t even need a Sabre. The first time I used a big kitchen knife, then when camping on Valentines day the only sturdy knife I could use was my trusty buck knife. Very romantic and my lady was quite impressed. You can even do it with a sturdy flute! http://www.winetasting.org/Video_Blog/Entries/2009/2/6_6._The_Coolest_Way_to_Open_a_Bottle_of_Sparkling_Wine.html It’s a pretty long video and repetitive so skip to the middle if you’re in a hurry.

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4 Coupe 60 May 14, 2010

I wonder if one of the most popular well known Austrians of all time, the great Franz Klammer, has tried any of these wines. I would be interested to know his thoughts on them, as well as those of slightly lesser well known Austrians such as pornographic painter Gustav Klimt…

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5 Coupe 60 May 14, 2010

as if you did not know the above comment was coming…in fact I’m very surprised not to see anything about them in the article itself. Though I guess the relative anonymity of Klimt might make it a waste of valuable article real estate… 😉

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6 Katie Pizzuto May 14, 2010

@Ed…first of all, a confession: when you said “a sturdy flute” I’m thinking, a flute? What if you don’t play the flute? LOL. I actually never drink my bubbles out of flutes, but have a couple in the house. Here’s the thing, though…first of all, I’m scared shitless that I’ll not only break the glassware, but also that I’ll send bits of glass into the wine. I mean, how can you be so sure you won’t be swigging down shards of bottle remnants?!

@Lou…you mentioning the-Austrian-other-than-Klimt was already enough of a waste of space. Hmm, perhaps I shall go moderate comments from now on 🙂

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7 Don May 14, 2010

Katie, I know I can buy on line, but it completely goes against my frugal (My Wife says Cheap) nature. I don’t want to pay $30 for a $20 bottle of whatever because I have to pay for shipping. I know, I know… I’m a cheap bastard…

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8 castello May 15, 2010

@Katie the pressure from the bubbles blows away any chards. It is, from my four or five tries, always a clean break with the old chunk of glass fitting right back on the bottle if the cork hasn’t expanded too much.

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9 Katie Pizzuto May 17, 2010

Hmmm, OK, maybe I’ll give it a try, but it’ll have to be with no one around in case I completely screw up, and definitely outside, with the cork aimed at the woods, LOL. And dude, what’s with the avatar? Can’t see anything!

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10 Katie Pizzuto May 17, 2010

@Don…see, I don’t mind shipping charges if it’s something I simply can’t get my hands on elsewhere, but I never do it for 1 bottle. I put together a decent-sized shipment of a few bottles, and THEN I feel a little better about it. Otherwise, you DO have a brother that lives not far from NYC 🙂

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11 castello May 17, 2010

@Katie That’s me cooking with grappa. We need bigger pictures to see me burning down the house. I’ll change it soon but it’s looks pretty good expanded.
To be confident on the sabering watch GV do it with the Master of Wine cutey on episode 757.

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