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Blind Tasting yields excellent Results for Austria

Austrian wines have once more successfully defended their top ranking among the world’s greatest. A comparative blind tasting on 30 October 2002, initiated by the fine wine dealer and collector Jan-Erik Paulson, and hosted by Jancis Robinson MW and Tim Atkin MW, highlighted the astounding potential of Austria’s Chardonnays and of its “secret weapon”, the Grüner Veltliner grape, a varietal with immense profundity and expressiveness. Austrian Chardonnays and Grüner Veltliners were compared to some of the world’s most prestigious Chardonnays from Burgundy, California, and Australia.

This picture shows glasses with white wine
White Wine, © Austrian Wine / Anna Stöcher

Grüner Veltliner has been recognized to be a white grape capable of producing wines with a richness, profundity, complexity and ageing potential equalled only by great Riesling and Chardonnay. “It seemed a logical choice to compare the greatest Grüner Veltliners and the greatest Chardonnays,” says Jan-Erik Paulson, “especially as the two can often have very similar aromas. Both are good food wines, and both reflect their terroir, though Grüner Veltliner often shows more fruit and freshness than Chardonnay.”

The tasting, which was attended by wine journalists, importers, and sommeliers from leading London restaurants, comprised six flights of prestigious Grüner Veltliner and Chardonnay, classed into three vintage categories. The results were astounding.

Seven of the first ten places were occupied by Austrian wines, with Knoll, Bründlmayer (2x), Velich, Prager, Loimer, and Freie Weingärtner Wachau, beating an international field including famous names like Louis Latour (Burgundy), Gaja (Italy), Mondavi (California), and Baron Thénard (Burgundy). The highest-rated Chardonnay of the tasting, on place three, was the Chardonnay Tiglat 1997 by Velich (Burgenland, Austria).

The first place was awarded to a 1990 Grüner Veltliner "Vinothekfüllung" Smaragd, Knoll (Wachau, Austria) with an average rating of 18.09 points, followed by a 1997 Grüner Veltliner "Ried Lamm", Bründlmayer (Kamptal, Austria) with 17.78 points. The first non-Austrian wine in the rating was a 1998 Byron Chardonnay, Nielson Vineyards, Mondavi (California) at place five. Astonishingly, all three categories of wines tasted were won by Austrian wines.

Jury


NameCompany
Tim AtkinsHarpers
John AveryAverys of Bristol
Bill BakerReid Wines and Conran restaurants
Stephen BrowettFarr Vintners
Richard EhrlichIndependet on Sunday
Brett FlemingBRL Hardy
Matthew JukesDaily Mail and Bibendum restaurant
Martin Lam

Ransome's Dock restaurant

Jason McAuliffeSommelier, Chez Bruze
Steve PannellBRL Hardy
Jan-Erik PaulsonPaulson Rare Wine
Jancis RobinsonJournalist, Financial Times
Gordon RoddickThe Body Shop and vigneron
Anthony RoseThe Independent
Hugo RoseLay & Wheeler
Steven SpurrierDecanter
Charles TaylorCharles Taylor Wines
Simon Woodsfreelance

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