While much of Europe was sweating in the summer of 2020, Austrians were having what the Wine Board termed “a good old-fashioned summer.” It was cooler than 2018 and 2019 and much wetter, upping the fungal risks; a hailstorm on August 23 decimated vineyards in parts of the Wachau, Kremstal and Traisental as well as points farther south. Warmth in September was tempered by cool nights and plenty of cloudy days, allowing harvest to start mid-month—later than the previous two years—and continue through October. In our tastings, the top grüner veltliner wines stood out for their plump, earthy flavors, the rieslings for their crisp acidity and clear mineral flavors.
The first half of 2019 put Austria’s growers on edge, as the weather swung from mild winter to cold, wet spring to the hottest, driest June on record. But temperatures began a gradual fall over the next few months, with no heat spikes and just enough rain to keep the vines happy. It stayed cool and dry into October, allowing growers to take their time in harvesting. The best 2019s have a combination of generosity, freshness and length that mirrors the vintage. Expressive now, with pretty, detailed scents, the top whites also have the structure to age well.
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