Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2009 Stadlmann Zierfandler Anninger Classic

What is Zierfandler?  No, it is not a comedy about male models starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson (that was Zoolander). Instead, like Rotgipfler, it is a rare Austrian wine grape, and I was excited to taste the sample that I received. How often do you get the chance to try Zierflander? After enjoying this delicious wine, my answer is "not enough." 

The 2009 Stadlmann Zierfandler Anninger Classic is produced by Weingut Stadlmann and you can read my prior review of their 2009 Stadlmann Rotgipfler Anninger Classic for information about the winery.  Zierfandler is considered to be the Stadlmann’s hallmark wine, and some of their vines are over 40 years old.  

Zierfandler is a white grape, likely a cross between Roter Veltliner and possibly Traminer.  In Austria, it is primarily grown in the Thermenregion, though you can also find plantings in Hungary (where is known as Cirfandel or Cirfandli) and in Slovenia (where it is known as Zerjavina). In Austria, it is also known as Spätrot ("late red") because the late-ripening grapes can sometimes acquire a red tinge. Historically, it was often blended with Rotgipfler, but nowadays you can find it more and more as a single varietal wine. Zierfandler wines typically evidence tastes of fruit and nuts, with plenty of acidity, and some sweetness. They also can age well, easily for ten years or so.

The 2009 Stadlmann Zierfandler Anninger Classic (about $15) is made of 100% Zierfandler, from 20 year old vines, and was aged in large old wooden barrels and on the lees for approximately four months. It only has an alcohol content of 12.5%, and has a bright golden color. On the nose, the fruit aromas dominated, citrus and ripe peach, with a mild undertone of some floral notes. On the palate, the fruit continued to dominate, adding some tropical fruit flavors and hints of slightly salty almonds. Very noticeable acidity partnered with some honey notes, which provided a mild sweetness to the wine, and the finish was fairly long and very pleasing.

In some respects, this wine reminded me of a cross between a Gruner Veltliner and a Riesling. The label suggested to pair the wine with spicy food, so I opened the bottle with my dinner of spicy ground beef tacos. It worked very well, the slight sweetness of the wine helping to cut the spicy heat of the tacos. The wine would definitely be an excellent accompaniement with spicy Asian food too. Two of us finished off the entire bottle with dinner, both very much enjoying it.

If you get the chance to try some Zierfandler, just say Yes!     

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