This year’s Austrian Wine Summit brought visitors to the regions of Styria, Eisenberg DAC, and Thermenregion this year focusing on the “Hidden Gems” of Austrian wine. That means that instead of Gruener Veltliner and Riesling, which have become wildly popular in years past, this group focused Sauvignon Blanc, Schilcher, Blaufraenkisch, Zierfandler, and more.

Our tour kicked off with the wildly controversial topic of natural wines. Interested in what we tasted? Check out the book here.

The walk around tasting was held at the Tagescafe Freiblick in Graz and featured a selection of passed small bites that showcased natural wines’ ability to pair. A discussion led by Luzia Schrampf, leading Austrian journalist, and Sepp Muster, a winemaker from the region who is heavily into the production of natural wines and a member of the group Schmecke das Leben which is made up of five winemakers from around the globe.

Interestingly enough, Muster strayed from the proclamation of a technical winemaker in that he does make his wines to taste a certain way, he says. In fact, he said he doesn’t care anything about the taste. Instead of making a wine that “tastes like technically correct Sauvignon Blanc,” he prefers to focus on what “the wine wants to do.”

While some people may not agree with this philosophy, it shows an extreme view of natural winemaking that makes any serious winemaker truly think. This is something his customers have come to expect, though, and while the wine doesn’t taste the same every year, those who appreciate his wines stick by him.

The general consensus of the event was that it was a good way for people to get to know the wines in a style that generally isn’t tasted so closely together. Some participants were surprised to learn there were so many natural wines happening in the region of Styria and with such emphasis.

So what do you think about orange and natural wines? We would love to hear your thoughts.