The only rules for this site are the ones I set, and they’re to do with the wines featured. I pick the wines, I pay for them, and I drink them. The Czar from was given to me by The Vinsomniac, but in truth it was a fair swap for what I thought was an interesting bottle that I sent his way. I was not obligated to do so, but I decided to write about it because it was interesting. Today’s wine is the result of another swap, whereby I passed along a bottle of a favourite South African wine and was more than repaid with some extremely interesting wine from a local producer. And again, while I’m under no obligation to write about this wine, I can’t help myself because it is so interesting. With that, I give you this Hahndorf Hill Winery Zsa Zsa Zweigelt Rosé 2012.
Hahndorf Hill Winery is based in the Adelaide Hills and has made a name for itself with some alternative varieties, as well as quality wines from more conventional grapes. There were Blaufränkisch vines growing when Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson took over the property, and they embraced the Austrian theme by planting Grüner Veltliner. For more details, see the write-up of their Shiraz 2007 from last year. The rule on this site is that I only write about a given producer once in a year, but I’m pleased that with the New Year I can now revisit some of my favourites.
I wrote a bit about Zweigelt last January and I’m pleased to have another look at the grape. Even with varieties I’ve tasted before, I’ve recently had a bit more to say about them with the release of Wine Grapes. Rare varieties are of particular interest to me, and as I’ve looked up grapes such as Ondenc and Petit Meslier, invariably in the entry will be listed the one or two producers in Australia. As of right now, the entry for Zweigelt needs to be updated, as this wine is the first vintage of the first Zweigelt vines in Australia.
Zweigelt is primarily associated with Austria, where it is the most widely planted red grape. It is a German crossing, which I wrote about with respect to the CedarCreek Ehrenfelser. It originated in 1922, the offspring of Blaufränkisch and St-Laurent. In addition to the plantings I mentioned previously in Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan, it’s also found in eastern Europe and British Columbia. One of its synonyms is Rotburger, but it shouldn’t be confused with Rotberger, another German crossing but unrelated.
First vintages are tricky, as it’s difficult to know what to expect. Zweigelt is typically used in Austria in the production of robust reds. However, given the uncertain nature of first vintages, making a rosé instead may have been a canny move rather than ending up with a red wine that didn’t live up to varietal expectations. The grapes for this wine were grown on Shiraz vines that were grafted over with Zweigelt, though with clippings now available there’s potential for fresh plantings as well. I hope they will produce a red wine in the future.
The Adelaide Hills region is well known to readers of this blog, and now having covered the grape and producer, it’s time to take a look at the wine in the glass.
This wine is clear and bright, with a medium pink colour and a fairly viscous film inside the glass when swirled, but it didn’t really break into legs. On the nose it’s clean and youthful with medium intensity and notes of red cherries, plums, red currants, a little white pepper, and a hint of beeswax. On the palate it’s dry, with medium plus acidity, medium plus alcohol, medium minus body, medium plus intensity, no noticeable tannins, and a medium plus length. There are notes of black cherries, a little lemon, strawberries, and some white pepper on the finish.
This is a very good wine. It’s young and fruity, but it’s not sweet and there are some notes of zest and spice. It’s nicely balanced in terms of acidity, intensity and alcohol, with a fairly high level of concentration. It seems slightly warmer than the 13% ABV on the label, but there is some leeway allowed. There’s good typicity in terms of the fruit profile, and it’s light on the palate as befits a young rosé. Finally, while it’s certainly good to observe a wine’s colour, it isn’t usually something that I care about one way or the other, but it has to be said that it is an especially pleasing shade of pink.
Finally, the disclaimers: First, I did receive this wine as part of a swap, but I came out ahead by at least a bottle. That said, it’s not a sample – more that I encountered generosity that would have been rude to refuse. Second, Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson are two charming gentlemen I hold in high regard. While I won’t write about wines from my employer or my wife’s employer, it would be silly not to write about a wine just because I know and like the people who made it. To sum it up, I’m writing about a bottle which came into my possession under very favourable terms and was produced by people I like. However, I’m writing about this wine under no obligation, and my assessment of the wine is based on what’s in the glass, not my relationship with the producers.