Archive for the ‘review Austrian wine’ Category

Pepper and Spice, and Everything Nice? Winzer Krems Zweigelt

austriaOK, I’d like to lay a bet. I’ll bet that if I took any given group of, say, 20 American wine geeks, only one of them would have any clue what ZWEIGELT is. Or maybe none of them!

It sounds like a German sausage. Or maybe a German automobile — “The new Zweigelt goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 40 miles to the gallon on the Autobahn.”

So what is it? Well, Zweigelt is the name of a grape grown in Austria. It’s a hybrid, created by crossing Blaufrankisch (a German red grape that’s not exactly a household name, either) with Saint Laurent (I thought it was a river, not a grape). Zweigelt, or Blauer Zweigelt, was engineered to thrive in Austria’s relatively cool climate.

I recently came across Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt St. Severin 2010, and explored it with some trepidation. Without any context clues except “cool climate red wine,” I was surprised to see the wine pour out deep burgundy colored and almost opaque. This was way more extraction than I’d expected, almost like a Petite Sirah.

The nose was also intriguing. I got some tart cherry fruit, but the really obvious aroma was black pepper. And I mean intense black pepper. This wine could make you sneeze! There was also a note of tar (yes, like in “road tar”). Read the rest of this entry »

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Green and Gruner: Austria’s White Wine

alpsWine from Austria? Really?

You mean that country with all the mountains?

The country where the Von Trapp family fled over the Alps after singing their little hearts out in “The Sound of Music?”

Yes, we’re talking wine from Austria — very good wine, actually.

There have been wine grapes grown in Austria for centuries — every European countryman (and woman) has always enjoyed wine every day, and most of it is made locally, even in chilly Austria. While the western half of the country is filled with the soaring Alps, the eastern half  produces wine grapes that until relatively recently — i.e. 10 or 15 years ago — were mostly shipped to Germany. They were blended with German grapes to make less-than-top-notch country wines.

But 10 or 15 years ago some Austrian said, “Hey, wait a minute. Why don’t we bottle and sell our own wine. And if we’re going to put our own label on it, let’s make it good.” And that’s what they eyes

The grape they’ve poured their resources into, and that’s become Austria’s signature grape, is Gruner Veltliner. This white grape thrives in Austria’s cool continental climate. The mild summer weather produces good acid in the grapes, creating a crisp, aromatic white wine.

At a blind tasting recently we tasted Green Eyes Gruner Veltliner 2009, which seems to be designed with the American market in mind: the label is anything but traditional. But the wine is good.

The nose offers snappy pear, citrus and a slight floral aroma, with a pale straw-yellow color. The palate is crisp, but not so acidic it turns your mouth inside out (like I’ve known New Zealand whites to do). I tasted more citrus and pear, with some flinty minerality. It’s not heavy on the palate, and the overall balance between fruit and acid was good.

This kind of white should be drunk young, and very well chilled. If we ever get any warm weather (we’re working on a string of 35-degree-fahrenheit days), Green Eyes will make a great summer refresher.

You won’t find Gruner Veltliner everywhere just yet, but its star is on the rise. The U.S. wine market has discovered it, so look for it to start appearing in wine shops and the wine aisle of up-scale food stores. You should check it out — I think it’s a new experience you’ll enjoy. Cheers!

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