A different kind of red wine

“What kind of wine did you bring?” I get the question a lot when I take a bottle along to a gathering with friends who might not be as nerdy about wines as I am.

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This time my answer drew a laugh: “It’s a weird red wine,” I said. I could see worried looks on a few faces, too, so I quickly explained. In no way is Hermann Moser Niederösterreich Zweigelt weird in a bad way. I really like this wine, and I’d happily buy it again.

So what’s weird about it? Let me count the ways.

First, in a world where the marketplace honors big, powerful red wines, full of fruit and scented with oak, strong in alcohol and loaded with big flavor, this wine follows a different path. It’s a path that I appreciate during a hot summer when I’ve been drinking more white wine that usual.

It’s far from lightweight, but it’s fresh and crisp with appealing but measured fruit flavors that go together in an appetizing way. Its alcohol level is normal for table wine at 13%, at which point it’s not overwhelming but goes well with food. Its flavors are subtle and complex, with the interesting minerality that’s typical of Austrian wines. It’s not really weird – I was just kidding, really! But it’s offbeat enough to be fascinating, and I like that.

Second, it’s from Austria, a country with a wine-making heritage that goes back to the Bronze Age, before the Romans came. The German names of the wines and regions are less familiar in a market where most of us usually encounter labels in French, Italian, English, and even a bit of Spanish. It comes from a relatively unfamilar region, Niederösterreich, and grape, Zweigelt, that would get many of us grabbing our wine reference books or smartphones.

Zweigelt (“Tsvy-gelt”) is a modern variety created in 1922 by its namesake Dr. Fritz Zweigelt. It’s a cross between Saint-Laurent and Blaufrankish, eastern European grapes that most of us don’t know much about, either. It’s a cross that worked, though: It thrives in Austria, where it is the most widely planted red grape in a country better known for its white wines.

A tiny church, rolling hills and Niederösterreich vineyards. Photo from AustrianWine.com, website of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.

A tiny church, rolling hills and Niederösterreich vineyards. Photo from AustrianWine.com, website of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.

Niederösterreich (“Nee-der-EH-ste-Reich”, with a German-style umlaut tweaking the pronunciation of the “ö” and a throaty tone to the final “-ch,”) is a relatively new Austrian region that includes Vienna in the northeastern quarter of Austria bordering the Czech Republic and Slovakia It incorporates several smaller regions along the Danube, including the highly regarded Wachau.

For more information and photos from Niederösterreich, check out this detailed information page from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board’s Austrian Wine page: Niederösterreich, Diverse Terroirs and Great Wines Along the Danube. For still more regional information and links to dozens of wines of the region and online vendors, check this link on Wine-Searcher.com.

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board has an extensive discussion of Zweigelt at this Austrian Wine page.

You can locate dozens of Zweigelt wines and their online vendors at this Wine-Searcher.com link.

You’ll find my tasting notes on Hermann Moser 2018 Niederösterreich Zweigelt below. It’s an excellent introduction to Austrian red wine. I think you’ll enjoy it.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Hermann Moser 2018 Niederösterreich Zweigelt ($16.99)

Hermann Moser Zweigelt

A man’s profile on the label of Hermann Moser 2018 Niederösterreich Zweigelt bears the English phrase, “the red cherry.” This classic-style Zweigelt shows a clear garnet color in the glass, shading from a dark center to a clear edge. Its attractive scent shows tart cherries and cranberries, leading to black fruit on the palate. Made without oak, it’s light bodied, bright, crisp and acidic. Tannic astringency and stony minerality linger in a long finish. 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Boutique Wine Collection, Philadelphia, and other regional importers. (Aug. 6, 2022)

FOOD MATCH: The importer suggests pairing it with red meat, spicy dishes, pizza or pasta, and I could go along with all of those.

WHEN TO DRINK: Zweigelt isn’t traditionally cellared. This one will be fine for another year or two, but it’s not meant for cellaring.

My local price matches Wine-Searcher.com’s $17 average U.S. retail. Frankly, it’s a good value up to $20.

You’ll find tech sheets for earlier vintages of this wine on importer Boutique Wine Collection’s webpage at this link.

For more about Hermann Moser and his wines, see this importer link.

Check prices and find vendors for Hermann Moser Zweigelt on Wine-Searcher.com.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines made from the Zweigelt grape.

For more information about Austria’s Niederösterreich region and links to wines of the region, follow this Wine-Searcher link.

Wine Focus August 2022:
Albariño and Pinot Noir

This year we’ve been basing our Wine Focus topics on the day of the year that many wine varietal organizations and regional trade groups choose to celebrate their favored wine. This month, Albariño day was August 1, and Pinot Noir Day is coming up on August 18. Pinot Noir is popular all year, so there’s no reason not to grab a bottle this month. Albariñ isn’t so well known, but this white grape from Western Spain and, as Albarinho, across the border in Portugal, is well worth your attention.

Bring your questions and comments and bring your notes on either wine, and join the conversation in Albariño and Pinot Noir month, August 2022!


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Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

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