It’s my first post for March (it’s been a crazy week), but I’ve already had some glimpses of beautiful Spring weather in my part of the world. These are the days that I want flavors as light and fresh and bright as the sunny breeze rustling all the little green buds in my garden. These happy little red wines from Austria have fit the bill for me lately. Affordable, relatively available (for Austrian reds) and easy to enjoy.
Austria is probably best known for its white wines — Grüner Veltliner, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) and Riesling. But quality dry, red varietal wines have been on the rise for a while now, and with good reason. Zweigelt is an indigenous red wine grape (and now the country’s second most planted grape variety) that is grown across all Austria’s wine regions. It offers a pleasing balance of racy, high acidity and elegance that is most often enjoyed as an early-drinking, food friendly, medium-bodied wine at an affordable price. Blaufränkisch, at its best, can also offer racy acidity, but with deeper color and flavors that include a spicy note, as well as more tannins and palate weight. It has great aging potential than most Zweigelts and typically receives more oak treatment during the winemaking process. St-Laurent is often compared to Pinot Noir, in terms of its velvety texture, but with deeper color, and it can also benefit from oak aging.
I think these are interesting wines, and I encourage you to track them down. Even beyond these Zantho examples, the prices are typically quite good — possibly because most people do not know what they are! Why not benefit from being in-the-know, and drink some tasty wine at the same time?
Zantho 2009 Zweigelt Burgenland ($14). Full of black raspberry and currant character but still light on the palate and refreshing. Juicy through the finish, picking up a touch of pepper spice. Easy to like and paired nicely with some sauteed shiitake mushrooms. Ready to drink now. (2012-02-19) Locate this wine online or in your area.
Zantho 2008 St-Laurent Burgenland ($14). Reminded me of a tangy Pinot Noir, with plenty of juicy red cherry and red plum fruit laced with touches of mineral and baking spice. Not overly complex, but tasty. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area.
Zantho 2008 Blaufränkisch Burgenland ($14). Juicy black cherry is full flavored, but medium palate weight, with bright acidity and notes of dried herbs and spice through the moderate finish. Not an example of how big and deep wine from this grape can be, but still a versatile and food friendly bottle, at a good price. Ready to drink now. Locate this wine online or in your area.