Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Expressive Austrian Red Wine: Blauer Zweigelt

Blauer Zweigelt - one of the names by which Zweigelt is sometimes known - is an Austrian grape created over 90 years ago by viticulturist Fritz Zweigelt.  His crossing of the St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch grapes really took off.  Zweigelt is now the most widely planted red grape in Austria.  It's also popular across much of Eastern Europe. 

This Blauer Zweigelt - from a producer named Brunn - was supplied to me by repesentatives of its US importer, The Artisan Collection, which specializes in small, artisanal producers around the globe.

This wine, labeled as Wein aus Osterreich, from the state of Niederösterreich in Lower Austria is noted as trocken, the German term for "dry."  Trocken is not used much on Austrian wine labels, since most wines in Austria are produced dry anyway.

Brunn is a small, family-owned winery located north of the Danube in Kamptal.  The wine is 100% Blauer Zweigelt grapes, hand-harvested from old vines.  Winemaker Karl Steinschaden produces this red to 13.5% abv. It's really fun to drink - a little bit like a restrained Cabernet Franc or a Pinot Noir gone wild.

The nose exhibits savory spices and tobacco, a tart twist plus a little hint of gunpowder to liven up the show.  On the palate, red berries, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and a really nice acidity get things moving, while a firm tannic grip is apparent upon opening.   The tannins soften over time, so pair with a steak right away.