26 October 2012

2009 Zantho Zweigelt

Zantho is a joint effort by Weingut Umathum and Wolfgang Peck (not Puck) from Winzerkeller Andau. The brand is named after an old Hungarian word for "village", which was another name for Andau where the wine is made. Andau is in Burgenland right on the eastern Austrian border with Hungary, and such linguistic swaps between two very unrelated languages pop up often.

The lizard used on the bottle is the Pannonian woodland lizard (Zootoca vivipara pannonica). It is the second reference that I know of in terms of Austrian wines and lizards (Smaragd is the highest classification of white wines in the Wachau and is named after the local emerald lizard), and it warms my inner herpetologist. I have skinks and other little lizards in the backyard, and one will occasionally get into the kitchen. I try to get them back outside without the unfortunate loss of a tail. I'm also pretty kind to the various snakes that inhabit the backyard. I'll take reptiles over mice and insects any day of the week.

2009 Zantho Zweigelt
Neusiedlersee, Austria
$11/€8,50, 13% abv.

Zweigelt may sound like a bit of a mouthful, but it's far superior to the alternative and unmarketable name Rotburger. All stainless steel fermentation and aging plus a glass stopper enclosure makes this one of the most wood-free red wines you'll ever try. The wine is bone dry but lightly tart, with a strong profile of raspberries both on the nose and palate. With almost no tannins this is a clean and smooth drinking red. Low alcohol helps with the mildness. I'm not really sure how I would pair this with food--it is so different and fascinating that I think it's one of those best enjoyed with a book or a movie instead of with dinner. Highly recommended if it's available in your area, and please let me know if you've tried it.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

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