In case you haven’t heard, Austrian Wine Month in NYC is from October 25th until November 22nd. However, for Austrians and Sommeliers of New York alike, the month kicked off late last week.

Willi Klinger, head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, was in town and with that brought a few key tastings and a fabulous Austrian Wines Magnum party.

I had the pleasure of attending a tasting led by Willi Klinger held on Thursday afternoon at the Blaue Gans restaurant in Tribeca, NYC. The tasting began as a casual cocktail hour (at the hour of 11am) with a typical rose SEKT, which we sipped on while hors d’oeuvres were passed amongst the crowd. The tasting was primarily for the press and as a result, attracted some great writers that it was an honor to talk with.

Once we sat down Willi Klinger led us through an informative PowerPoint presentation that explained the different regions of Austria, the grapes, specifically what the Austrian Wine Marketing Board is involved in and many other key factors about the Austrian Wine Industry.

The tasting consisted of 21 wines, chosen not because of their producer or importer, but because of their characteristically accurate nature per their region. I found all to be a great pleasure, using Willi Klinger’s comments to guide me through the new sensations my palate was finding.

First the whites. I learned that Gemischter Satz is a blend of several grapes, most prominent in Vienna, I tasted through a range of Gruner Veltliners, Pinot Blanc, Rotgipfler, Sauvignon Blanc and, of course, Riesling. The Rieslings really took my breath away, specifically an example from the Kremstal, DAC region and one from the Wachau.

Then the reds. We tasted through six; two Blaufrankisch, one Pinot Noir, One Saint Lauren and two Red Cuvee blends. I found each to be an interesting expression of Austrian wines and am hard pressed to pick a favorite.

At this point we took a break for the luncheon portion. Traditional Austrian food was served that accompanied by the red wine left in our glasses. Once the dessert arrived, the dessert wines were also served. All three, a Traminer and two White Cuvee, were delicious and really stood up to the berries berry sorbet I had opted for. Not too sweet, perfectly balanced and a perfect end to a great event.

The next event was held the next evening at Hearlth Restaurant in the East Village: Austrian Wine Magnum Party… but they’ll be more on that later.