There are undoubtedly other wine-growing regions with more weighty and alcohol-richer wines, but seldom does a region offer such a brilliantly fresh and elegant style of region-typical wines as in southern Steiermark.
The three designated Styrian wine-growing regions all offer their own local speciality, and are situated in the south of the federal state of Steiermark. Towards the west, the spicy Schilcher Rosé dominates, a variety that truly expresses its terroir amongst the unique and picturesque undulating hills. In the Sausal region and along the Südsteirischen Weinstraße, the idyllic wine road that meanders through the vineyards, the aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Gelber Muskateller varieties reign, and towards the south-eastern region, known as the Vulkanland Steiermark for its remains of volanic activity, the trio of aromatic varieties is rounded off with Traminer, a real treat for connoisseurs.
If one's taste runst to more opulent wines, the Pinot family offers more complexity and fuller body, particularly the Weissburgunder from the carbonate-rich soils. Likewise, Chardonnay (known here as Morillon) and Grauburgunder.
A new era for wines of the Steiermark will have been rung in with the 2018 vintage. All three of its winegrowing regions will have been elevated to DAC-status: Vulkanland Steiermark DAC, Südsteiermark DAC and Weststeiermark DAC. Wines typical of the individual regions, including Schilcher in the Weststeiermark, are now arranged on three levels: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (local or ‘villages’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine).
The new system of origins is designed to consciously emphasise the merits of Styrian wine: the traditional diversity of grape varieties remains preserved, whereby on the level of Ortswein and Riedenwein, the focus will be placed upon the locally prevalent leading varieties. The date of market release, 1 March or 1 May has been determined so that the wines have adequate time to develop their regionally typical character, and to specifically display their potential on the local and vineyard levels.
Each new vintage in the Steiermark is celebrated with a light-bodied young wine called the 'Junker', which debuts during the first week of November. In March of the year following the harvest, the dry Gebietsweine are released. Wine lovers must be patient and wait a little while longer for the Ortsweine and the grand Riedenweine. Styrian producers are maturing these wines ever more slowly and with greater care, so that authentic Styrian class will become synonymous with world class.