The Vintages 1979 - 1960
Fairly long periods of cold weather and a spring that was wetter than average resulted in late vegetative development. But a prolonged period of fine weather with high temperatures in early summer resulted in very rapid and powerful budding. Very favourable for the grapes were also the above-average warm and dry months of September and October. The 1979 vintage had outstanding qualities.
Because of good vine maturity, the vineyards wintered without any substantial frost damage. Budding was late. Because of cool weather, flowering was also delayed. The grapes were general healthy, but the Styrian harvest suffered from severe hail damage. The main harvest was very late and resulted in particularly high yields. Because of the generally low ripeness of the grapes, 1978 was a small vintage year despite the big crop.
The vines wintered without damage. Because of a period of very warm weather in March, conditions were favourable for budding. A sudden onset of cold weather at the end of April caused considerable damage to the young shoots. In May and June the prevailing weather was sunny and warm, encouraging rapid growth and excellent flowering. The grapes were particularly healthy, must weight was above average, and Botrytis did not develop. This vintage produced fruity, fully ripe and harmonious wines with pronounced varietal character.
Wintering was good as a result of a generally mild winter. Because of cool weather at the beginning of May budding was delayed, but afterwards growth quick and powerful. Favourable weather conditions resulted in good flowering, but severe drought retarded the development of the berries. Changeable weather impaired the ripening of the grapes but favoured Botrytis; resulting in the production of Prädikat wines over wide areas. This vintage was quite variable in quality, ranging from thin to elegant and expressive wines.
Because of the extremely mild winter, the sap began to rise early. Budding was good and uniform. After a fairly long period of inclement weather, a short fine spell led to good flowering. Frequent hail damaged the harvest in Styria. Because of the wet and foggy weather, the volume of Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines was smaller than in good vintage years. In general, the wines were of average quality, fruity and with an intensive bouquet.
Because of the mild winter, vegetation developed about three weeks earlier than normal, but this lead was lost due to the abnormally dry weather in April and May. Wet and cool weather followed after flowering and delayed development of the grapes. A period of fine weather in August and September allowed the vegetation to partially make up the deficit. Because of the unfavourable weather, 1974 was a vintage of small and often immature wines.
The vineyards wintered well, fruit setting was good, and flowering also proceeded satisfactorily. Because of favourable weather, the harvest was earlier than in normal years. Continuous, heavy precipitation resulted in a massive Botrytis infection. The 1973 vintage was excellent to outstanding with full-bodied wines rich in extracts. In addition to top-quality Prädikatswein in Burgenland, there were also outstanding Spätlese and Auslese wines in the Wachau and Gumpoldskirchen.
After wintering well, the vineyards produced a good budding. Both fruit setting and flowering were good. The ripening of the grapes was delayed by the unfavourable weather in the summer. The main harvest did not begin until mid-October and, because of the heavy early frost, there was considerable loss of quality. A weak vintage with small and often thin wines, low in extracts.
Winter frost caused light damage several times. The weather remained dry all summer, resulting in poor grape formation with low juice. Not until the end of September was there significant precipitation to make the grapes somewhat juicier. The wines were rich in extracts and were marked by a high degree of maturity and great harmony.
Because of wet and cold winter weather, budding was delayed. Flowering was also later than normal but proceeded satisfactorily. A period of inclement weather with a significant drop in temperatures also substantially delayed ripening of the grapes. Cool weather also continued during the harvest, and in mid-October there was an early frost. The wines of this harvest were for the most part of only mediocre quality.
A long winter, which delayed the development of the vegetation, was followed by a very hot May, which led to good budding and setting of the fruit. Very summery, dry weather led to heat damage in some areas. Following a rather prolonged rainy period, fine weather set in, permitting a smooth grape harvest. The 1969 vintage produced wines of very high quality. The Prädikat wines were particularly outstanding, both in volume and quality, with a sugar content as high as 50° KMW.
In January there was severe frost damage, but by February there were springlike temperatures that accelerated vine pruning. The spring was relatively dry and warm. In the summer and autumn, however, it was very cool and damp, leading to a Botrytis infection of the early varieties. The harvest was of varying quality. Because of the varied crop, this vintage produced a number of downright top-quality wines as well as others that were somewhat problematic.
Budding was good and uniform, and flowering also occurred without problems. In July and August, however, hail damaged the vines, especially in Styria. In the months of August and September there was damage due to dry weather. From mid to late September there was lots of rain, causing severe rotting of the grapes and prompting an early start to the harvest. In Burgenland this decay often developed into noble rot, producing must readings between 45° and 50° KMW.
Very early spring weather followed a short winter and favoured development in the vineyards. Fine weather prevailed into early summer with occasional light rain. In the months of July to August extremely high precipitation in conjunction with cold temperatures delayed development. But with few exceptions, the grapes harvested at the beginning of October were in outstanding condition. This vintage had generally high sugar content, but the low acidity had a detrimental effect. The vintage year must be considered only mediocre.
Because of a prolonged winter, budding and flowering were delayed. In some places the poor weather conditions caused Peronospora (downy mildew) infection, while in Styria there was damage caused by hail. The beginning of dry weather in October resulted in a certain ripening of the grapes. This vintage produced immature, small and thin wines and was one of the worst vintages in terms of quality.
There was no winter damage. Flowering was favourable without losses due to blossom drop. Fruit setting was above average, raising expectations of a large crop. The harvest, however, was impaired by constant rain. The harvest was the biggest in Austrian history, and despite the large volume, the wines for the most part were of high quality and suitable for ageing.
The winter began early and was severe and very long. This led to severe damage to the vines. Pruning did not get underway until the end of April, but by the end of May grape development was very advanced. A prolonged dry spell began in July. At the end of August there was sufficient rain for the berries to develop noticeably, but there was grape rot in some areas. Because the harvest was begun late and the weather was fine, the volume was large and the quality high. In some cases the must readings were as high as 42° KMW. This was a good to excellent vintage with outstanding Prädikat wines, especially in Burgenland.
Encouraged by the weather, vegetation and budding began early. But because of very wet and cold weather from Easter to mid-July, flowering was late with heavy losses due to blossom drop. A dry spell followed with occasional thunderstorms that caused severe damage due to hail and flooding. The harvest began very late. Apart from the Wachau, this vintage was of only mediocre quality.
Because of mild winter weather, pruning began early. Budding was excellent. Very cold and rainy weather began in May and lasted for some time, causing part of the fruit to atrophy. In addition there was severe rain damage. In August a dry spell began, which lasted throughout the harvest. Because of the drought, the vines could not take advantage of the late autumn sun. In general the wines were of low acidity.
The winter was without frost damage. Budding, however, was very uneven. Because of the favourable weather, flowering was generally good. In several areas disease and pests resulted in an early harvest. The fine and frost-free autumn provided opportunities for improving quality. A particular problem was a plague of starlings. The year 1960 produced wines of mediocre to average quality.