by Andrew Chalk
It is rarely that I review an Austrian wine. They are only found in specialty wine stores as a rule and the national output is small. Only 26m cases of wine are produced each year and that is about a third of the output of E&J Gallo. The area under production is about 122,000 acres, about 13% of that of California wine acreage.
Thankfully, it’s compact size does not in any way detract from the quality of its wine. In its tiny frame the country grows a large variety of interesting grapes, some hard to find elsewhere. This particular example was grown in the ‘Rust’ area, named after the town of the same name, in the region of Burgenland. Roughly speaking, Rust is 25 miles southwest of Vienna and the same distance southwest of Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia). A key geographical feature is that it is situated on the banks of a huge lake, the Neusiedler See. That acts as a giant heat sink moderating the cold winter weather. The other side of terroir, soil is clay and slate.
Going through the label with ‘gun and camera’ we have the producer Günter+Regina Triebaumer. They are the married couple who took over the family winery (founded generations earlier). Zweigelt is the grape, the most planted in Austria, an Austrian variety created in 1922 by Friedrich Zweigelt. It is a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. Burgenland is the AOP (designated wine growing area).
The result is a totally opaque ruby hued wine with a purple rim. The nose contains black cherry, floral notes, and hints of thyme and marjoram. On the palate the wine is typical of Zweigelt in its formidable acidity, mild tannins and medium body. The cherry fruit is fresh and at the forefront.
Overall, a very enjoyable wine that would be at home paired with wiener schnitzel, weisswürst (or its Austrian counterpart) or spätzle with pork.
In addition it is a bargain.