Where do you think the wine in the picture comes from? Unless you recognise the bottle or the producer’s name, there’s no clue on the label; the answer is on the screw cap I’ve included in the bottom corner. The red and white stripes echo the flag of Austria and many wines from that country have those colours, whether on a screw cap or on the capsule covering the cork. A neat piece of marketing in my view (once you know to look for it!) On the other hand, the label, while stylish and eye-catching, is sadly lacking in detail (and the back label isn’t much better). However, Pittnauer’s Pitti comes from the Wine Society (£10.50) and fortunately their website was, as ever, much more informative.
A blend of Zweigelt, Austria’s most widely planted red variety with Blaufränkisch (also known as Kekfrankos and commonly found across central and eastern Europe), this is a bright, very drinkable fruity red, enjoyable on its own or with red meats, especially lamb, duck breast or leg or hard cheeses. Expect aromas and flavours of cherries and raspberries with a subtle, attractive hint of pepper and sweet spice.
Pittnauer’s vineyards are ideally situated close to the Neusiedlersee, a huge shallow lake on the border with Hungary, that creates the perfect conditions for some of Austria’s best wines. The water tempers the heat of the summer and mitigates some of the cold of a Central European winter. The family-owned and run estate is farmed biodynamically (a kind of super-organic regime) and with a minimal intervention policy in the winery. The result is a wine of real quality and at a very reasonable price.
Austrian wine had its challenges in the 1980s – mostly self-inflicted – but, following a long period of rebuilding, they are now turning out both reds and whites that are well worth searching out.