Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food-friendly Austrian wines - "Zweigelt and Rotgipfler walk into a bar"...

The Refuge's Reuben: pastrami, sauerkraut, melted swiss, russian dressing, toasted rye.

I have a newfound respect for Austrian wines. Austrian? What?!

Rona and I picked up her sis from the airport, and stopped by at the Refuge in San Carlos. Last time their amazing pastrami sandwich sang chorus with a Borgueil, a Loire red wine made from Cabernet Franc. This time, I tempted fate even more, and brought a totally obscure Austrian red - 2008 Blauer Zweigelt from Anita and Hans Nittnaus. I mean who ever drinks Austrian reds?!!! For around $15/bottle, at the low 12.5% alcohol, the wine is more versatile than, say, a Borgueil, nicely balanced in a European (rather than Californian) sort of way (meaning you can taste veggie and fruit), medium-body, reminiscent of a cool climate Pinot Noir but with darker fruit and touch of spiciness. In other words - really really great with the Refuge's menu!

Blauer Zweigelt is an Austrian grape variety that's a cross of relatively obscure but very distinctive Blaufrankisch grape (exemplified by Moric - one of staples of Wine & Spirits Magazine's top 100 wineries of the year, great with charcuterie) and totally obscure St. Laurent grape, from the same family as Pinot Noir. I can also see this wine pairing nicely with lots of pan-Asian cuisine. I finished the bottle two days later with a slice of chocolate cake - a spectacular match, and it was as fresh as the moment I opened it.

The previous bottle I'd had was a white made from Rotgipfler grape - another obscure grape variety from Austria. Stadlmann Tagelsteiner Rotgipfler 2008 (13.5% alc) was a Gruner Veltliner-like white wine, with clear focus, clean, unoaked, expressive fruit flavors, and hint of white pepper. A versatile wine, like Zweigelt above, Rotgipfler goes exceptionally well with curry (particularly, vegetable, seafood, or chicken curry).

Another Austrian - a sparkler (Sekt) - is going to be popped for the Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Come to papa!


Do Bianchi said...

So cool to be reading about the Teutonic wines here man! One of these days we'll be in NYC at the same time and will make a date to go to Katz's. Keep on drinkin' well!

Constance C said...

You'll have to try Rotgipfler's most popular partner in crime, Zierfandler sometime soon too!

Also, so happy to see you enjoyed the Zweigelt - definitely exploring some other expressions of the grape though. Like Pinot, it ranges from light and easy drinking styles to dark and more serious expressions.

.. and when you're in NYC, please let me know too!

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