30 Second Wine Advisor: Tasty red from white wine lands

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Tasty red from white wine lands

In some world wine regions where white wine is king - Alsace, Austria, Germany, France's Loire Valley and to some degree New Zealand, for example - the idea of opening a red wine of the region may strike us as somewhere between unexpected and funny.

But don't laugh too fast. The old adage about not judging a book by its cover certainly applies as well to judging a wine by its expected color. I've sampled some outstanding Pinot Noirs from Alsace and Germany's Mosel Valley. New Zealand's Central Otago is gaining a reputation for great reds. Just last night, I enjoyed an excellent Loire Cabernet Franc with smoked Berkshire pork ribs.

Today's featured wine, the budget-level "Hugo" label blend from proprietor Markus Huber, more than adequately speaks for itself as a delicious red from white wine lands.

It's a blend of indigenous varieties: Zweigelt (80%), a modern grape developed by a Dr. Zweigelt in 1922, and Blaufräufrankisch (20%), a traditional Austrian and German grape known in other regions as Lemberger.

Bottled under a sturdy screw-cap to keep the wine clean and fresh, it offers a light, sprightly, peppery flavor with crisp, food-friendly acidity and the intriguing minerality that sets good Austrian wines apart. It's well worth the modest toll. You'll find my tasting report below.

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Today's Tasting Report

Huber 2009 "Hugo" Niederösterreich Dry Red Wine ($11.99)


Clear dark ruby color. A blend of the German (and Austrian) grapes Zweigelt (80%) and Blaufräufrankisch (20%), it's grapey on the nose at first, somewhat reminiscent of a simple Beaujolais, but fragrant peppery notes offer a different varietal signature. On the palate it's light and bright, with mouth-watering acidity and flowery white pepper over fresh red-berry fruit, with a modest 12.5% alcohol content. Intriguing and typically Austrian stony minerality becomes evident in a long, clean finish. Very interesting wine and a good food companion; excellent value. U.S. importer: Circo Vino, Bensenville, Ill. (March 26, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: It's light and subtle enough to make a winning partner with lighter meats, pork or veal or roast chicken or poultry. It went very well with herb-infused lamb shanks, a popular recipe from my old Wine Advisor FoodLetter.

Although these varieties in a lighter-style wine aren't for long cellaring, the Stelvin-type screwcap keeps it clean and offers hope for good shelf life and cellar capability over at least a few years.

Here's a link to producer Markus Huber's Website.

The U.S. importer's Website is here.

Compare prices and find vendors for Markus Huber's Austrian wines on Wine-Searcher.com.

For distributors around the world, check this page on the Markus Huber Website. The U.S. importer lists distributors state by state at this link.

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