Weingut Angerhof Tschida Schilfwein Zweigelt 2010
Fog and humidity arise from the Neusiedlersee (lake), and extend over the wet flatlands region of the same name, all the way to Austria’s border with Hungary. This moisture, coupled with the daily sunshine that reflects from its wet surfaces, serves as the perfect environment for the development of the desirable fungus called, Botrytis cinerea.
This fungus causes the grapes to essentially “rot” and dry, concentrating their sugars for harvest. It also helps the grapes develop intricate phenolic complexities leading to some of the most sought-after and unique sweet wines in the world. Austrian law categorizes these botrytized, sweet wines according to the must weight (sugar concentration) at harvest in the same way as the Germans. So the wines will be labeled, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.
While the region’s reputation has historically ridden on the success of its sweet, botrytized wines, in 2011, Austria granted the official appellation of origin, Neusiedlersee, to its high quality Zweigelt red wines. As a result, any of its prestigious sweet wines will be actually be labeled after the general region of Burgenland.
Neusiedlersee’s slopes of mica, schist, limestone and variations in gravel, sand and clay make it ideal for its indigenous red varieties, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and Zwiegelt, as well as the international varieties of Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder), Merlot, Cabernet and even Syrah.
Though not widely planted here, some white wines, such as Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), have distinguished themselves locally.
Savory, spicy and fresh, this is Austria’s most popular red variety. While native to Austria, it is actually a fairly recent cross, bred by Dr. Zweigelt in 1922. He crossed two native varieties, Blaufränkisch, for its peppery bite, with St. Laurent, chosen for its elegance. Zweigelt can make a charmingly light and fruity, slightly tart and spicy red that’s great in the summer. Look for one-liter bottles to take to an afternoon barbecue. Zweigelt is capable of more serious, age-worthy version as well, which will be concentrated in fresh red and purple berries and boast delicate, autumn spice and pepper aromas. It grows well in various eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as in western Hungary. There are rare occurrences of the vine in some New World countries.