[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

This very unusual wine, a robust Austrian red, came as a gift from the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the American Wine Society, as a sort of honorarium for my remarks at their annual dinner last weekend. Hand-imported by a society member and perhaps unavailable in the U.S., it's a single-vineyard (Haidboden) bottling made by a respected winery (Umathum) in a good wine region (Neusiedler See) from a red grape (Zweigelt) that's a relatively modern hybrid, a 20th century cross of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent that thrives in Austria and is being increasingly planted there. A German wine friend likened Zweigelt to Zinfandel as a grape of real potential whose cultivation is essentially limited to just one country where it does very well.

Umathum 1991 Neusiedler See (Austria) Zweigelt vom Haidboden (price unknown)
Very dark ruby color. Full cherry-berry scent with a distinctive "grilled meat" aroma reminiscent of an older Rhone. Ripe, jammy red-fruit flavor laced up with "tar" and "smoke" over a core of lemon-squirt acidity. Balanced, full and long, tannins not evident, suggesting that it's fully mature and won't benefit much from further aging, although it's hard to know with an oddity like this. It's very pleasant, anyway, much more rich and strong than I'd have expected from an Austrian red. (Dec. 8, 1997)

The back label reads as follows, in the old German "fraktur" type, suggesting that back-label self-promotion is essentially universal, regardless of the language and typography.

ist die alte Beizeichnung für den Landstrich um den Wallfahrtsort Frauenkirchen "Maria auf der Haid".

Die kargen, steinigen Böden sind für die Rebsorte Zweigelt besonders gut geeignet und verleihen dem Wein immer ein feines und markantes Aroma.

Begrünung der Weingarten, Schonung der Rützlinge und Erhaltung der Urtenvielfalt sind Grundlagen unseres Weinhaus.

Weingut Familie Umathum - Frauenkirchen

FOOD MATCH: We paired this with a flavorful Ossobuco bianco, a Northern Italian braised veal shank long-simmered in white wine and finished with a gremolata of minced garlic, parsley and lemon peel. Although a hearty red might normally be too much for veal, the combination of robust flavors in the ossobuco and the fruity nature of the Zweigelt made the match come out just right.

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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