1998 - A good vintage for Austria
In contrast to the year before, there was very little frost damage in 1998. Flowering occurred from the beginning to the middle of June, and was completed two weeks earlier than in 1997. The development of the fruit started extremely well, and the vines suffered from minimal coulure. July was warm, but rainy, encouraging good growth of foliage. A hot, sunny August followed, greatly advancing the ripeness of the fruit. Only the Kremstal and Donauland reported noteworthy hail-damage (roughly 80 ha in total).
After a rainy start to September, a week of warm weather allowed the early varieties to be harvested at the right time. Although the weather was rather changeable, there were lengthy periods of sunshine in all the wine growing areas allowing the harvest to be brought in safely. At the first sign of rot, vineyards were harvested selectively, and growers would often break off the harvest in order to avoid the rain, allowing the grapes to be brought to the presses dry. After a rainy start to September, a week of sunny weather enabled the early varieties to be harvested at the optimum time. The harvest in the Burgenland is always more advanced than the rest of Austria. In the Wachau, for example, Smaragd grapes were being picked by the beginning of October. Although the weather was rather changeable, there were lengthy periods of sunshine in all the wine growing areas allowing the most of the grapes to be brought in successfully. At the first sign of rot, vineyards were picked selectively. The Grüner Veltliner harvest was finished by the end of October and the young wines are showing good extract and acidity.
The vast majority of producers are pleased with the vintage in general, although the harvest itself was considered somewhat difficult. The quality of the dry whites is good, with the wines showing excellent varietal fruit characteristics. The reds are showing good ripeness and are expected to be good quality. There is more botrytis than last year, and the sweet wines promise to be of a similar calibre to the excellent sweet wine vintage of 1989, 1991 and 1995.