Selecting the finest vineyard sites is a fraught matter in any country, and Austria is no exception. Owners of specific sites are understandably keen to have them validated; other owners have less of a vested interest. Moreover, in some areas, precise boundaries between vineyards have sometimes been difficult to pin down, and some vineyards, such as Gaisberg in Kamptal, belong to more than one village.
Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for 12 top white wine picks from Lower Austria
Despite all this, the growers’ association called the Oesterreichische Traditionsweingüter (Austrian traditional wine estates) has – off its own bat – created a selection of what its members consider the finest vineyards (Rieden) in Lower Austria. The association has no official standing, but is widely respected and few would quarrel with its choice of some 90 sites as Erste Lagen (first growths).
Not many are household names, but the same might well be true of the premier cru vineyards of Santenay or St Aubin. As with the official DAC classification, only traditional varieties win the association’s seal of approval for each site.