An organic Zweigelt vs a Demeter version!


‘Why haven’t you recommended any Zweigelt?’, a friend asks me after his recent discoveries in Austria.
‘Too few tasted and no real treats’, was my answer realizing I, on a general basis, had neglected Austria for a way too long period. Embarrassing, considering all the great whites emerging from the country; wines that has impressed me a lot when tasted. Also, a bunch of reds did awaken my interest a year ago; Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir especially. But for some reason they again fell between the chairs. 

‘Basically they’re like good Valpolicella, my friend continued, ‘but without the unnecessary oak if you find the right producers’.

What better way then to discover Zweigelt than comparing a Demeter certified one to an organic Zweigelt? Christoph Röper in Germany runs Biovinum, a web based wine shop only offering organic and biodynamic wines; my choice of supplier. I love to support and encourage people with a passion and deepened knowledge within a specific field, as in the case of Christoph Röper.His range of offerings are impressive and at prices making me wonder how it’s possible. Obviously,organic and biodynamic practices aren’t necessary correlating with a higher price tag; a fact worth keeping in mind for your everyday choice.

But before tasting, what is Zweigelt?

Created in 1922 by Dr. Fritz Zweigelt by crossing two grapes,Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch. From the beginning the grape was intended to be called Rotburger – after where it was born; Klosterneuburg. Being the most widely planted grape that seldomly means being the best. Zweigelt stands for
9% of Austria’s red grapes. Weinviertel is the dominating region for the grape. Abroad it has shown few promising results.It is a robust grape, highly resistant to dryness, frost and other diseases but the main thing is it’s high yields.

Sadly this means it’s synonymous with quantity making it difficult for those giving it a fair chance showing its true potential. Smooth tannins, yet showing fine ageing potential. Sour cherries making you think of a Northern Italian red but also a spiciness sending you to Rhone. Handles barrique ageing very well. Often used as a blend but more and more producers are treating it as a single
variety wine.*
Wine battle! From Weinviertel and Biohof Pratsch comes the 2008 Zweigelt Windradlweingarten. The winery is organic and the vines has reach an average age of 25 years. Yields were around 50 hl/ha in 2008. Price: EUR 7,95. 

As its combatant I call in the Demeter certified Weingut Wimmer-Czerny from Wagram. The 2008 Zweigelt Hammer has the same yield as the Pratsch but boasts with 35 years old vines, amongst the eldest Zweigelt plantations in Austria. Price: EUR 8,95.

While one is settling with organic practices the other goes for the full monty and the Rudolf Steiner way. Personally I don’t care at all whether it’s biodynamical, organic or jam-packed with fertilizers and crop-spraying; in the end it’s all about the wine’s quality. Still, although Einstein is not my middle name, it doesn’t take a brain to figure out that minimal involvment of chemicals is the way towards great and personal wines.

The 2008 Zweigelt Windradlweingarten from Biohof Pratsch shows dark red color. Very pleasing aromas of cherries, white pepper, wet earth and a slight floral touch. I’m thinking a nice Cotes-du-Rhone due to the white pepper and delicate seducing red fruit, but at the same time the cherries has an Italian touch to it. On the palate it’s delicious and easy drinking but still with personality and structure to make me want to have yet a sip, again, again….
Cherries, wild raspberries, licorice, white pepper and a herbal note. Mouth watering fruitiness and a fine although not long finish. (88 points)
The 2008 Zweigelt Hammer from Wimmer-Czerny also has a youthful dark red color. This one’s more restrained and in need of time. After aeration it shows plenty of sour cherries, bitter almond, white pepper, floral notes and a scent I can not determine what is is but detects as dried tobacco. It’s sour cherry flavor is delicious and the fine sandy tannins are so in place you could easily drink the lot yourself to a barbequed tenderloin as we did. The white pepper scent is also in the taste. The Wimmer-Czerny seems to be a wine more for those Valpolicella freaks out there, showing more similarities with northern Italy than the Pratsch sending me to Cotes-du-Rhone. Fine acidity making this a great food wine! (87 points) 

At the price both are extra ordinary buys but I confess I prefer the Pratsch style. Maybe that’s my preferences speaking, preferring a Cotes-du-Rhone wine before a Valpolicella, but the impression were two food friendly wines.

If you wish to try them I doubt you will find the Pratsch or the Wimmer-Czerny outside of Europe but hope to be surprised. Order through Christoph Röper and his Biovinum. He’s shipping in the EU. For example he charges EUR 23 for a case to Sweden.

* Information about Zweigelt provided by Wines of Austria.

(2008 Zweigelt Windradlweingarten, Biohof Pratsch, 88 points)
(2008 Zweigelt Hammer, Weingut Wimmer-Czerny, 87 points)