Friday, October 15, 2010

Zvy-Gelt!..Bless You!..No, it's Red Wine From Austria

Zvy-Gelt is something you've probably never heard of. No, it isn't Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to pronounce the word "California". Rather, Zvy-Gelt is a near-phonetic pronunciation of the word "Zweigelt".
What then, is Zweigelt? Among the pantheon of red wine varietals, it's about as well known as Bonarda and is a cross of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. The Austrians sure did take a fancy to it though, planting all over the country. Here in the United States, we rarely see it in the local wine shops, which is unfortunate because once you get taste Zweigelt, you will want more.

Hopefully though, the scarcity of Zweigelt is about to change if Monika Caha has anything to say about it. This is another Monika Caha selection, she of the Grooner wine I wrote about a few weeks back. By the way, you can follow Grooner on Twitter here. In this instance too, Zvy-Gelt is made by Weingut Meinhard Forstreiter. Why such long names, sheesh!! I thought my full name was long but it pales in comparison to a wine label in German.

From the Niederoserreich area, Zvy-Gelt clocks in at a New World friendly 13% alcohol. I'm not complaining though, one look at some of the 15% and higher California wines in my collection dispels any negative thoughts.

What I learned about the 2008 vintage was that growers and winemakers considered it a labor-intensive year that rewarded them with excellent quality. Most vineyards in the Niederoserreich were picked in early to mid September because one somewhat unique problem popped up: fog. Lower temperatures and high humidity increased the probability that botrytis would break out, but from what I read, good vineyard management practices minimized any outbreaks that did occur. An excellent overview of the 2008 growing season in Austria can be found here.

I noticed a ruby, slightly hazy color as I poured the Zvy-Gelt into my glass. It got about 30 minutes of open time and as usual, was poured it through my Wine Soiree. The first sniff reminded me of a lighter style Pinot Noir. On the nose, soft red currant, red cherry, hints of oak, earth, and strawberries. I enjoyed the seamless integration of each flavor into the next.

The anticipation was building, my first taste of Zweigelt ever! What to expect? Prior to this, I had purposefully avoided reading any tasting notes or anything else regarding the varietal in the hope of going into the tasting with an unbiased palate.

As I tasted, I was careful to note my impressions and here's what I jotted down: "Lightly sweet with lively acidity that carries along cherry and strawberry notes, hints of spice and light but firm tannins. Very tasty, perhaps some oak there but was hard to find, however the earthy note put a smile on my face."

Upon further research (mainly me looking at the provided tech-sheet and using google) I learned that Zvy-Gelt sees 50% old oak and 50% stainless steel. I could really get down with that because so many wines these days see too much oak, as if the winemaker is trying to cover up some flaw or shortcoming. Not Zvy-Gelt, it's light, deliciously integrated and leaves you wanting that next sip.

The night I tasted the Zvy-Gelt, I had some pizza from Regents Pizzeria, close to my apartment. It's about as close as I can get to New York style pizzas without actually going back home (to New York, that is). The toppings were sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Before you note that I might have odd tastes in pizza, I was VERY impressed with how the Zvy-Gelt paired with my pizza. This wine is food-friendly, in spades!

At a SRP (suggested retail price) of $12-15, Zvy-Gelt delivers. If you see it at a bit less, nearer to $8-10, treat yourself to a bottle or two. I recommend opening it when you've cooked something simple but tasty. Hell, open a bottle when you order a pizza or something! We've all had those nights when we're just too tired to cook anything too involving and Zvy-Gelt is a go-to wine for just those evenings. Easily a solid B and a BUY recommendation.

Take a chance, try a new varietal especially for such a low price. One of the most rewarding aspects of loving wine is the chance to broaden your palate.  Be adventurous I say!

This wine was received as a sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

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