Öhlzelt Riesling Zöbiner 2018, $33.99
On the other side of the Riesling story is Austria. Though even less appreciated than German Riesling, there is a rich history and tradition of Riesling production across Austria. Here, the style leans toward more clearly dry wines with high acidity and some sharpness. We’ve come to appreciate the style by way of Barbara Öhlzelt, who happens to also make some of the most serious Grüner Veltliners anywhere. In the Kamptal region, Barbara has made a name for herself as one of the most talented winegrowers around. Her lineup is split into three categories: (1) entry-level, value wines focused on freshness and drinkability, (2) villages level wines that feature a blend of vineyard sites and aim to present a complete view of the village or appellation, and (3) her single- vineyard, de facto Grand Cru sites.
Barbara’s Riesling ‘Zöbinger’ is one of her ‘village’ level wines, sourced from vineyards across her home village. Dominant soil types include sandstone, slate, sand, and clay. The average vine age is between 20 and 60 years. Barbara is practicing organic in the vineyards, and ages her best wines in acacia barrels. Though the general style of Austrian Riesling can be described as more powerful, dry, and intense than those of Germany, Barbara opts for a gentler approach, favoring the elegance and drinkability that her counterparts in the Mosel would surely approve of. Zöbinger represents the perfect middle-ground between immense drinkability and terroir expression. Though perhaps more of a ‘drink now’ wine than the Stein, it offers just as much complexity, not to mention represents a clear window into the world of top-tier Austrian Riesling. Try this with a spicy roast chicken for a real treat.