Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Austrian Reds!

If you like rich, earthy Pinot Noirs, then you owe it to yourself to broaden your scope and try some truly interesting Austrian Reds. Austria is typically more known for it's complex, minerally whites (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Veltliner), but I think recently the reds are starting to become vogue among the trendsetters in the wine world (yeah, I'm one of those damnit). These trendsetters are the ones who are absolutely sick of Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are some many other great varieties and blends out there. But more on that later.

So the Austrian Reds. Blaufränkisch [blouw-FRAHN-keesh] and zweigelt [zuh-VIE-gelt]. You can probably figure out why these tongue-twisters haven't reached the masses yet. Of the two, blaufränkisch (pictured above) is the richer more complex one, with more age-ability, although both are considered lighter reds. Personally I've had more blaufränkisch so I'm going to talk about that for now. The most recent one I've had is the 2003 Peter Schandl Blaufränkisch. Schandl's vineyards and winery are in the small town of Rust, which is in the Burgenland anbaugebiet (or region). The district (or bereich) within this region is called Neusiedlersee-Hügelland. By the way, the blaufränkisch grape is known as kekfrankos in Hungary, and Lemberger in Germany and the U.S.

Tasting Note: Aromas of berries, spice, and wet earth. The dry, medium soft tannins wrap around the mouth creating a rich mouthfeel, all the while remaining quite bright and crisp. This vintage is sold out, but I'm sure there will be future vintages from this great producer. Price is around $20 a bottle. Goes great with seasoned lamb, roast game, and gooey earthy smelling cheeses.

For more information on blaufränkisch and zweigelt check out this great article in the NYT. They rave more about the lighter zweigelt, which explains why they're from NYC. :)

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