Austria | Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)
Niederösterreich is Austria's largest Qualitätswein-producing area. This designation stands for a big variety of different wine styles of international and indigenous grape varieties. There are eight specified wine growing regions in Niederösterreich, reaching from the Wachau in the west to Carnuntum in the east. These can be divided into three major climatic zones: the Weinviertel in the north, the region along the Danube river (with its adjoining valleys to the west of Vienna) and the warmer Pannonian part in the southeast of Niederösterreich.
The expansive Weinviertel region made headlines in 2003, after the region decided to market its signature variety, the peppery Grüner Veltliner, using the term "Weinviertel". Since then, the Weinviertel DAC designation on the label guarantees a peppery-spiced, fresh style of Grüner Veltliner in the wine glass. More powerful wines come under the Weinviertel DAC Reserve designation. The Weinviertel's wide range of fresh, aromatic white wines, fruit-driven red wines and even dessert wines now bear the "Niederösterreich" designation of origin.
Along the Danube, from Melk in the west downstream to Klosterneuburg to the east, passing the Kamp, Traisen and Krems tributaries, are a number of picturesque wine villages. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are the flagship wines of this area with both varieties displaying their regional typicity. The steep crystalline slopes of the Wachau evolve into loess terraces towards the eastern part of the adjacent Kremstal, which also form the character of the wines in parts of Traisental and Kamptal, but particularly in Wagram, where Roter Veltliner has become another regional asset alongside Grüner Veltliner. In Kamptal, the wines contain a distinctive touch, particularly on the Heiligenstein, with its conglomerate and carbonate-free soil. In this part of Niederösterreich, the range of wines are rounded off with specialities like the Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay as well as a select range of elegant red wines.
Both Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch thrive in Carnuntum and Sankt Laurent is the speciality in the Thermenregion. Yet there is much more on offer, with regional white wine specialities Zierfandler and Rotgipfler flourishing around the wine town of Gumpoldskirchen, and Pinot Noir as well as modern blends are becoming increasingly important. Hence Niederösterreich offers the diversity in the big land of great wines.