Monday, September 6, 2010

Something New - Zierfandler from Austria

by Rob Bralow, Wine Post Editor

I love finding new grapes to try. I know many bloggers have done the 100 grape challenge, or the century club, or whatever you want to call it. I know if I listed out all the grapes I have tasted that it would be more than 100 and possibly more than 150. Simply through my Italian tastings alone I could probably do 100. So I do not feel the need to keep a list. But what I do like is finding grapes I have never heard of and finding that I like them.

I was invited to a tasting by a representative from Advantage Austria the Austrian Trade Promotion Organisation (ATPO), a group that has the laudable job of promoting all things Austrian. A week before the event I had gone to the Wines of Austria Grand Tasting, with the intent of finding a Blaufrankisch and Gruner Veltliner for the store. At the ATPO I found a producer that made a Zierfandler, a grape I had never heard of. Zierfandler is a white wine grape that can also be known as Spätrot ("late red") because the grape turns red towards the end of its growing cycle. The grape is best grown in Thermenregion, a small region just south of Vienna.

The wine made from Zierfandler that I tasted was from Stadlmann, whose wine comes from the Mandel-Höh Vineyard. These vines are over 45 years old and the age of the vines gives this wine an amazing amount of grace and style. I almost want to compare this wine to the American-Asian dish, a classic combination of sweet and spicy. The nose is all tangerine, with mineral notes and white pepper. The taste is more so, with a touch of marzipan and quince. The complexity is awe-inspiring and grabs you. This is the kind of wine to get your wine geek son or daughter (mom, I'm talking to you).

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