Chris Yorke, Austrian Wine: ”It is about encouraging sommeliers to look over the edge of the plate”

Chris Yorke (photo: Anna Stöcher).
Andreas Grube
Published 29-June-2021

Austrian Wine has been Star Wine List’s partner for the entire tour of Star Wine List of the Year – both the national awards and the international final. Here Chris Yorke, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, sums up the experience.

”Overall it was absolutely impressive to see the level of expertise internationally put into action in wine lists,” he says.

Ten national events of Star Wine List of the Year and one International final – and they have all been presented in partnership with Austrian Wine.

”We have been supporters of Star Wine List since the beginning and it has been such a success in the Nordic countries. This is why we were thrilled when we heard that Star Wine List of the Year will be held around the world,” as Chris Yorke said in a previous interview with Star Wine List.

How has the year been for you and for Austrian Wine?
”Challenging but in the end surprisingly satisfying probably sums it up. We very quickly focused on the channels that were open and launched a heritage campaign promoting wines online in shops and from the wineries, promoted wine tourism and launched a number of new online formats for restaurants (Close Look), trade professionals (online tastings) as well as several online promotions of Austrian wines around the world.

”Innovation continues after our first online events and virtual press trips with even bigger formats now facing the ’new reality’ by combining the best of the two worlds in newly developed hybrid formats, first one taking place in Zürich end of August.”

After the Star Wine List of the Year International final – how does it feel?
”Of course, we are very happy and honoured that an Austrian Wine List, the renowned Palais Coburg, was able to go for Gold. Overall though it was absolutely impressive to see the level of expertise internationally put into action in wine lists. We also see that this recognition has been very important for all gastronomic places who were hit so hard by the pandemic restrictions.”

Why has it been important for Austrian Wine to be a part of Star Wine List of the Year?
”For us it is about encouraging sommeliers to look over the edge of the plate and look to excite their customers by trying a wine they would not normally taste. In many countries Austrian Wine is still in the discovery phase, so a restaurant is a perfect location for a knowledgeable sommelier to talk to their customer and encourage them to try an Austrian wine. Our experience shows that once customers have enjoyed the food friendly, elegant Austrian wines they will continue drinking them.

”In terms of the award we want to help promote excellence in wine lists. But in particular we would like to encourage sommeliers to consider Austrian wines on their list. Once sommeliers start that journey with Austrian wines, I am sure they will continue to be delighted by the broad range of wine styles, an array of indigenous varieties grown in special regions and produced with the long-term future of the land in mind.”

Can you see any trends when it comes to the Austrian wine business? Any regions, styles. varieties that are increasingly popular, for instance?
”Austrian wines find their way into the wine lists with traditional wines and varieties. We have always been known for fresh and elegant styles and people are now discovering Austrian reds, like Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Also, natural wines, organic- and sustainably certified wines or orange wines appear more and more in the wine lists of the restaurants.”

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