The extremely variable weather challenged many vintners to their limits, but diligent vineyard management was rewarded in the end.
The white wines of the new year are fruit-driven and precisely defined, displaying wonderful harmony. The reds are characterized by a sleek, charming “Austrian” bouquet and clear varietal expression, comprising wines which offer drinking pleasure in their youth.
The desert wines display monumental intensity and impressively brilliant fruit. The harvest volume of 2.2 million hl is far below the long-term average and is the single bitter result in a year full of surprises.
Vineyard Management: Viticultural Skills Decisive
The challenging 2005 harvest began with slow flowering during a cool weather period and resulted in poor fruit set in many Austrian vineyards. The summer offered little reason for vintners to have high expectations and so all were pleasantly surprised by a satisfactory physiological ripeness. Precipitation set in at the beginning of August and was followed by a damp and cool September. Rot threatened the increasingly ripe grapes. Intense, diligent measures were necessary in the vineyard - green harvesting and conscientious canopy management - to achieve the desired ripeness. A drastic and welcome change of weather came on October 3rd and held for the entire month, providing an Indian summer that promoted sugar development in the grapes and a harvest of high quality.
Elegant and Balanced White Wines
The Austrian white wines of the 2005 vintage excel with harmonious balance between alcohol dry extract, and acidity. Rich, aromatic content bring sappy fruit and excellent varietal expression. This good physiological ripeness was generally expressed by more harmonious acidity than the previous vintage.
First tastings of the predominant variety Grüner Veltliner are typified by peppery spice and discreet fruit. The major Veltliner-producing province, Lower Austria, is able to claim the 7th good Veltliner vintage in a row with the new vintage displaying clearly defined varietal character and discreet fruit with no grassy aromas. The acidity is moderate and well-integrated and cautious predictions are for an elegant Grüner Veltliner with a character positioned between the 1999, 2001, and 2004.
Particularly pleasing are the first predictions for the development of Rieslings. Already now in their youth, these wines display pronounced stone fruit, pleasant, racy acidity, as well as precise focus and harmonious balance. Similarly positive results are predicted for Sauvignon Blanc which displays a broad spectrum of aromas from bell pepper and fresh mown hay to powerful, noble examples with cassis and elderberry.
A harvest with refreshing summer wines with apple fruit and crisp structure is finally promised again by Welschriesling. Examples of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris that did not suffer too much during the wet weather are showing juicy, mature, typical fruit.
Light and Charming Red Wines
Red wines required even closer attention in the vineyard: manual selection by larger labor crews was necessary to bring in healthy fruit. Drastic forfeits in quantity were made with Zweigelt in particular, but also early ripening varieties like Pinot Noir and St. Laurent, in order to ensure acceptable quality. These varieties can generally be described as youthful and charming with red berry fruit and modest acidity and tannic structure. Among the late ripening varieties like Blaufränkisch and Cabernet Sauvignon are several noteworthy and well-balanced wines with plenty of fruit.
Brilliant Dessert Wines
The initially hesitant, then massive botrytis around Lake Neusiedl and other sweet wine vineyards was quick to bring enthusiastic expectations. The first dessert wine tastings left experts with the unanimous opinion that 2005 is a great sweet wine vintage that offers wines with power, untamed fruit, and racy balancing acidity. Despite their intensity, these wines are expected to be harmonious in their youth and steadily gain in elegance and complexity with extended bottle maturation. 2005 promises to be yet another dessert wine vintage, comparable to the legendary 1995, or the 1993 and 1999, but again here with far lower yields than average