Hahndorf Hill Winery Zsa Zsa Zweigelt Rosé 2012

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Hahndorf Hill Winery Zsa Zsa Zweigelt Rosé 2012

Hahndorf Hill Winery Zsa Zsa Zweigelt Rosé 2012

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.

Pittnauer Zweigelt Burgenland 2007

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Pittnauer Zweigelt Burgenland 2007

Pittnauer Zweigelt Burgenland 2007

First, wine.  After failing the certified sommelier exam yesterday (but before I had the failing grade in hand) I had lunch.  Sad, unfortunate, and in some ways avoidable (certainly for the next time I face such an exam), but alas, even if things are going badly it rarely helps to deny oneself food (and drink).  Thinking of the quote attributed alternatively to Napoleon and Churchill, I knew I was in the category of needing it.  It was fine, but I wouldn’t fill a blog with it, let’s just say.  However, the red wine I had by the glass to go with some lovely venison is worth an entry.

I had my first Zweigelt.  I know, everyone remembers their first Zweigelt, and it’s always special, and this was no exception.

What?  What’s a Zweigelt, you ask?  Well it’s only the most  popular dark grape in Austria!  It’s apparently a cross between Blaufränkisch and St-Laurent, though you could be forgiven for not knowing that (and over the past three weeks I certainly have developed an appreciation for forgiveness in the face of not knowing something).  Austria exports no more than a quarter of their wine, and  most of their exports go to their close neighbours, with roughly 70% going to Germany and the next biggest market being Switzerland.  So to find a Zweigelt on a wine list, much less to find one available by the glass, well who could say no?

Anyway, back to Zweigelt itself.  As I mentioned, it’s a dark grape.  It’s relatively low in acidity and in weight, with common flavours being cherries, peppers, and currants.  It was originally crossed in 1922, so it’s a relatively young variety, and while very popular in Austria, has only started to go international with some plantings in Germany, the United Kingdom, and apparently Japan.

So this one in particular from Pittnauer – I just had one of those moments where I am pleased to have been keeping this blog.  My memory isn’t the greatest (so I’m not sure how I managed to pass all the exams in 2010 and 2011) and while there logo on the bottle was familiar, it wasn’t until just now that I realized that I’ve blogged about them before, in particular about their Pittnauer Rosé 2010.  Now their Rosé didn’t do a whole lot for me, but their Zweigelt was just the thing.

It had a very fruity nose, but with hints of chocolate, that went perfectly with my meal.  It wasn’t heavy, maybe a medium minus body, and the alcohol was medium, but the intensity of flavour on the nose and the palate was fantastic.  I really enjoyed this wine, and would rate it very good quality.

Right, meta update, just for kicks.  This is post 53, which isn’t too bad really.  I meant to mention it when I hit post 50, but didn’t realize until I was already on 51.  I have 4 Likes on Facebook, and I’m not related to any of them (as far as I know).  The number of impressions I’m getting on search results are way up, though I started from such a low base it’s pretty insignificant.  And since I’m on the Internet, I’m getting spam – up to 111 posts blocked so far.

Also, it’s apparently still a done thing to tweet “drunk.com”, presumably when you’re drunk.  Not really much to do with me, and if it makes people happy, more power to them.  I only once saw evidence that anyone who tweeted it had read the blog, which made it even funnier.  I almost feel like I should put up a special page just for people who should hit my homepage via Twitter so they get a special message congratulating them on being drunk and telling them to party on.

The trend does mean I’ve been asked to sell the domain more times in the last couple of months than in the past couple of years, but that’s fine.  If I ever can’t afford my next drink, I know I can probably cash this in and get a case or two of something good.

Lastly, the future.  I’m going to keep on blogging, though you may have noticed I’ve dropped the formal WSET style of writing up a tasting note.  If it turns out I failed the tasting part of the exam, it will return.  Also, I’m thinking of trying to work out some study materials for myself to do with wine geography.  I love maps, and I have some good ones from a variety of sourse, including Vinodiversity.  However, they mostly sit around and I only look at them when I’m after something specific, not as a general study aid.

So, I’m thinking it might be worthwhile to make up some maps online, probably using Google Maps/Earth.  In an ideal world, I’d love to make up a game where the name of a wine region would appear and you would have to click on a continent, a country, possibly a state, and then zoom into the region itself.  So if, for instance, if Umpqua Valley came up, you would click North America, then the USA, then Washington, and finally click within a polygon that would be the area of the AVA.

The problem, of course, is getting data for the multitude of wine regions into a map.  While there are fine maps out there, I’m not sure how easy I’d find it to use them as reference for making my own, and with something like Google in particular you can zoom down to street level and I’m certainly not going to have that find a detailed set of data for most regions.  There’s also the rights issue with regard to referencing third party maps – I can’t infringe on anyone else’s copyright, especially as there might be some way to turn a penny or two out of having good online maps of the wine regions of the world.  There would be one further problem, and that’s staying on top of region changes.  The Champagne region has increased in size recently, areas are upgraded from DOC to DOCG with increasing regularity, and the USA adds AVAs all the time.  Keeping the maps up to date would be a job in itself.

But first things first – I’ll start having a look at what’s possible and what’s easy, which is always a good way to start.  Thanks for reading.