Thursday, May 5, 2011

a quick view from vienna ~

So what song to sing about 2-10?

I had a fortaste at Prowein in Düsseldorf a month ago, and saw that the issue separating the men from the boys was one of how one managed to manage the acidity in these wines.

some bottlings were harsh and shrill, some clumsily flat—guess why—and I found a few exquisite examples where the lower yields of the vintage had imbued the rieslings or the grüne veltliner with extra concentration and material.

so I came to Vienna prepared for an acid-bath—and in many cases this was true, but I learned nearly fifteen years ago that not every vintage in Austria is equally good for all grape varieties, nor does it show the same characteristics. The big surprise at the ÖGZ tasting was the quality and depth and downright flavourful generosity of the Weissburgunders. This grape has been given a bad reputation by those fellows in Alsace/Elsaß who allow it to run wild and overproduce. The Austrians—along with their colleagues in the Pfalz—have managed to work in the vineyards in such a way that we enjoy a wine that reminds one of great white Burgundy without the oak.

And, goodness-gracious-me! The Schilcher has been tamed—not in every instance, nor in one special case, but we had a couple of these that earned a solid four-glass rating, where the edges of the West Styrian specialty showed lively, but neither raspy nor raw.

There were many occasions when the known greats performed as expected—it's been fairly consistent that the wines of Willi Bründlmayer and Fred Loimer will impress us, but when a bottle from Dürnberg—also poured with label concealed—holds its own among the aforementioned, that catches our attention.

The widest gulf in quality that one might complain about is evident in the category of sparkling wine. The best—Bründlmayer, Schloss Gobelsburg, Malat—are very fine, also by international standards, but there follows a bit of a plunge into the depths shortly thereafter...

Clear above all is that in 2010 the successful grower was he or she who knew how to follow up their conscientious work in the vineyard with the utmost facility in matters of cellar-technique.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

~ Littoral ~

everything that’s washed ashore

becomes fit fodder, just fine to build

the frozen flame

the retroflective face

when passions run deeper than grace

sometimes a tale told

in the dawn tide of a single truth

or such a torrent down

in a single tear

when wanting runs hotter than fear

everything that’s lost before

like past prescriptions newly filled

a test of will

but habit is denser

so fine a new foil still can fail the fencer

sometimes elemental powers

prescribe a pace in the force of nature

not fail to notice

bow down a greeting

and none of this escapes our meeting

every single sometimes lovely thing

become, remain—drop from decay

into the final frame

to blossom now with multifoliate blame

stride forth from shadow, animate in flame

James Oliver Wright © 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

eine kleine Übersetzung aus dem Knulp...

a little translation from Hesse's Knulp...

Es sitzt ein müder Wandrer
In einer Restauration,
Das ist gewiß kein andrer
Als der verlorne Sohn


here sits a weary wanderer
in the inn with a beer and a bun
who can it be? that's it—that's he!
that sumbitch Prodigal Son...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Greet the Grape— Zweigelt !! a little over a year ago I was sitting relatively pretty in Weiden am See, on the banks of the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland. I had been invited to take part in a jury-tasting of new red-wine releases by the Österreichische Gastronomie Zeitung (Austrian Gourmet Digest, sortof) along with a wide range of wine people from various disciplines—other tasters from France, Belgium, England, Sweden and Bavaria—plus a couple Austrian wine-journalists.

Most of the wines came from the 2007 vintage—good material. The variety most often abused by the winemaker was St. Laurent, and the murder-weapon was usually François Frères mi-toast. Out of perhaps one hundred Blaufänkisch, ten were ethereally impressive, twenty were excellent, and maybe seventy a bit too ambitiously elaborated.
There were one-hundred thirty-five Zweigelts, and I would happily have drunk one-hundred twenty of them.

The experience made clearer to me that which I had long believed: there is no other grape-crossing which produces such consistently reliable and oftentimes delicious wine as does the Zweigelt. Not even Scheurebe offers serious competition, and Pinotage comes nowhere close.
A crossing is not a hybrid. Crossings result from the uniting of two vitis vinifera subspecies. Pinotage is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, for example. Popular hybrids include Seyval Blanc and Chambourcin—matings between vinifera and American vines.

Zweigelt is a crossing of Blaufränkisch with Sankt Laurent. It was created in 1922 by Dr Friedrich Zweigelt. He named it Rotburger because of its birthplace in Klosterneuburg, but due to occasional confusion with the Riesling/Trollinger cross RotbErger, Austrian wine pioneer Lenz Moser brought the current name into official use long about 1975. We will not go into Dr Zweigelt’s motives or his politics, but he was looking for prolific grape-bearing, good deep colour, and resistance to disease.

Zweigelt is relatively hardy when it comes to frost, drought, and to various ailments of the vine. In crossing Blauf and SL, Dr Z came up with a grape that tastes like neither.

Zweigelt is wonderfully versatile in its applications. It flourishes as monovarietal, but also blends beautifully with Blaufränkisch—as well as with French varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon—and of course the two Bordeaux brothers together.

While occasionally profound, Zweigelt is so frequently delicious, and handles such a wide range of culinary demands, that one is amazed at its versatility. Try it with highfalutin’ Mexican cuisine, molé or adobo—take it to tandoori, pair it with panang—Zweigelt paints the very picture of panache…