Zweigelt & Co

Heavy soils of loam and loess – but gravelly sites as well – work in a fortuitous interplay with an ideal red-wine climate to create particularly favourable conditions for the Austrian national variety Zweigelt. This crossing of Blaufränkisch and Sankt Laurent yields properly delicious wines, charmingly fruit-driven with velvety tannins, succulent body and an impressive finish. Carnuntum Zweigelt in particular shows a refreshing pithiness, expressing the somewhat cooler influence of the Danube. Zweigelts from Carnuntum have these distinctive qualities to thank for the fact that they’ve become particularly well loved as accompaniments to sophisticated dishes in the better restaurants. Additionally, the regional brand Rubin Carnuntum (since 1992) is monovarietal Zweigelt.

Zweigelt – in general...

Blauer Zweigelt is an indigenous Austrian grape variety. It was cultivated by Professor F. Zweigelt, who later became director of wine research at Klosterneuburg, in 1922 by crossing the two autochthonous varieties Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch. The name Zweigelt appeared relatively late in the game, however – in 1975 to be precise – the vine had previously been known as Rotburger. Today Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine variety in Austria, with 14% of the area under vines, ahead of Blaufränkisch (7%) and Blauer Portugieser (3.5%).

The microclimate of Carnuntum, with its long vegetation period and its dry and sunny autumns, also makes it possible for the growers to produce magnificent red wines from late-ripening varieties like Cabernet or Syrah.

And quite often, these international varieties will be blended in a sophisticated cuvée with the fullbodied Zweigelt. Here the well-rounded Merlot often comes into play, since it ripens to an impressive level of concentration in Carnuntum.

The Spitzerberg in the eastern part of the growing region Carnuntum is famous for the indigenous grape variety Blaufränkisch, and yields vibrant and vivacious wines that demand years of bottle-age to show their most harmonious and charming sides. But then, they win the heart of the taster with an unbelievable finesse and sophisticated complexity.

Also an indigenous variety, the Sankt Laurent is approachable earlier. This finely fruit-driven relative of the Pinot Noir is unfortunately very sensitive, and its acreage in Austrian vineyards dwindled for years and years. In Carnuntum there are, however, a few passionate St Laurent growers, who re-engage themselves every year once more with the sensitive vine, producing particularly charming and sought-after wines.

Austria’s world-famous Grüner Veltiner is the most important white wine variety in Carnuntum as well; fruity and exuberant but also rather substantial wines are produced here from it. Additionally, aromatic varieties do very well in Carnuntum: Gelber Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer and Muscat.

Zweigelt study group

The leading wine producers of Carnuntum have convened as a study group, in which they are scientifically exploring the variable factors – old vines, different combinations of soil and microclimate, different levels of ripeness at harvest time and various methods of élevage – that can enable the region’s most important grape variety to achieve its finest form and greatest expressiveness.

Johann Markowitsch, chairman of the Zweigelt study group in Carnuntum, tells us: ‘It is important that each winegrower shares his insights with the others. With this we shall quickly and efficiently succeed in maximising the potential of this vine.’

Zweigelt à la Carnuntum

A typical Zweigelt from Carnuntum is characterised by its distinctive fruit profile, dominated by black cherry. The wine shows a pithy richness on the palate and its tannins are velvety and smooth. Important here is the cool vibrancy that the variety transmits, thanks to a tensile acidity, that allows the Carnuntum Zweigelt to act fresh and lively, even with all its substance and texture.

The distinct climate – cooler than around Lake Neusiedl, but warmer than it is north of the Danube – gives Zweigelt from Carnuntum a sense of style that is unique and easily recognisable.