Last week, I wrote about our 12–unknown-bottle tasting where Zweigelt (TSVY-gelt)
was one of the wines we liked the best. So this week, I thought I would learn more about this wonderful Austrian grape.
Austria’s Most Prominent Grape
Zweigelt is Austria’s most planted red wine grape. According to Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly The Master Guide, Zweigelt wines are typically bright, tart and fruity. When we tasted Zweigelt, its bright color was the first thing we noticed. We called it cranberry and thought it was really beautiful. I tried to capture it in my picture but am not sure that I did.
The Parent Grapes
Zweigelt was developed in 1922 by Dr. Fritz Zweigelt, when he crossed Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent grapes. Since I’d never heard of Blaufrankisch or St. Laurent, I did a little bit of Googling.
Wine Folly says that Blaufrankisch is a food-friendly Austrian wine that is known for rich black fruit contrasted by peppery flavors and boisterous acidity. It is the parent not only for Zweigelt but also for Gamay.
According to a number of sites, St. Laurent tastes a lot like Pinot Noir. The Wine Cellar Insider has a great article on it where they quote Hannes Reinisch, a grower of the grape, as saying, “St. Laurent is one of the most fascinating and valuable red wine varieties because it is capable of uniting the power and spice that one would expect of the Rhone Valley paired with the elegance and delicacy of Burgundy. These attributes in combination with the climatic and geological preconditions in Austria result in unique, elegant and inimitable wines that demonstrate all the virtues of the variety and terroir.”
Zweigelt Is the Perfect Picnic Wine
A lot of people rave about how good Zweigelt is with grilled food: burgers, brats, rib eye steaks, chicken. Puckett says that Zweigelt is the perfect picnic wine, and I have to agree.
This wine has quite a bit of acidity for a red. It has notes of spiced cherry, raspberry, black pepper and violets.
WineSearcher says that “A truly successful crossing, Zweigelt has inherited desirable characteristics from both of its parent varieties. From Saint-Laurent it gets its bright, Pinot-like cherry aromas and the ability to create silky, elegant wines. From Blaufrankisch it has taken a certain spiciness and good acidity.”
While some of the best bottles can age for a decade, the majority are best consumed within a few years of release.
According to WineSearcher, while Zweigelt is a very popular standalone wine, the grape is also commonly blended with Cabernet and Merlot to create an Austrian twist on the Bordeaux blend. “Just as commonly it is married with its parent-variety Blaufrankisch for a pure-blooded (if somewhat incestuous) all-star Austrian blend.”
And Zweigelt is also used to make sweet wines, including ice wine. Surprisingly, one of the top Zweigelt ice wines is made in Canada.
If you’ve tried Zweigelt, please let me know what you thought. Cheers!
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