Monday, January 14, 2008

Grape Variety #87: Zweigelt

Drinking Zweigelt is like drinking the color purple. There are flavors, to be sure, but those flavors are somehow all subsumed under the color purple.

This was my first Zweigelt, and the 87th grape variety towards my New Year's Resolution to qualify for the Wine Century Club. Zweigelt is an Austrian grape developed in 1922 when Blaufrankisch was crossed with another native variety, St. Laurent. I had Blaufrankisch a long time ago, and I remember it as a funky, pinot-like grape. I was eager to try the Zweigelt, and to see how much it resembled it's Blaufrankisch ancestor.

The 2005 Anton Iby Zweigelt Classic did indeed smell like a young, tight Pinot Noir. (K & L Wines, $11.99) It had aromas of sour cherry, earth, and just a bit of alcohol. As the wine sat in the glass the alcohol blew off, and the flavors were of pronounced sour cherry. The depth in the middle of the wine tasted like the color purple to me, and the finish was earthy and relatively short. Zweigelt doesn't have the silkiness of Pinot Noir on the palate, but otherwise it's very much like a pinot in character. And at this price, I think it would be a great substitute for Pinot Noir when your wallet is feeling a bit pinched. Very good QPR, considering the nice balance between earthy and fruity notes.

When looking for a food to pair with your Zweigelt, pork is an excellent choice. We had it with a roasted pork tenderloin and blue cheese polenta. The pork was topped with some mushrooms in a pan sauce, and the polenta and mushrooms had a nice earthiness that picked up those notes in the wine, while the sour cherry fruit and the blue cheese were super together. And because it was a Rachael Ray creation, it didn't take very long to make so it was perfect for an after-work supper.

If you haven't had a Zweigelt, try one. I think you'll find it's like a Pinot Noir--only purpler.


Richard Auffrey said...

I have had a few Zweigelts and enjoyed all of them. I agree it is similar in some respects to Pinot, but with a tinge of its own uniqueness. I really like the 2003Salzl, Zweigelt Barrique, Austria ($11.99)

Anonymous said...

You have a great blog, I hadn't heard of Zweigelt so thank you for increasing my awareness. I really like your food pairings, too, and we will definitely try the pork tenderloin & polenta recipe.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to attend a Zweigelt and Gruner Veltliner tasting a few years back. Some of both were solid, a few were amazing. I only wish I had taken better notes on the brands and vintages. :(

The most peppery wine I have ever had in my mouth was a specific Zweigelt. It was really rather remarkable.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the lead, Richard. I haven't seen that bottling out here on the Left Coast, but it's gone on the list of those to watch out for. Thanks, WineMad. The recipe is worth trying out--especially if you like blue cheese. And I'm intrigued by the pepper comment, Grapelesstraveled. I didn't get much pepper, but the wine you tasted sounds very interesting.