Maria & Sepp Muster - Graf Zweigelt 2013

Maria & Sepp Muster - Graf Zweigelt 2013

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From 32 year old vines. Grapes are hand harvested and then destemmed. They ferment in 2900-liter wooden tanks with indigenous yeast. The juice is transferred to 225-liter barrels for elevage for about 23 months. Zero sulfur is added and the wine is unfined and unfiltered.

Farming: Biodynamic

Vegan

Maria and Sepp Muster took over his parents’ 10-hectare winery in Styria in 2000 and began to work the vines biodynamically. They had an easy transition, as no herbicides or pesticides had ever been used there before. Rocky clay and silt soils dominate the steep hills of their vineyards. This clay silt is known locally as “Opok” after which two of their wines are named. The Graf wines also feature the opok soil but have steeper south-facing slopes that reduce yields and produce wines of more structure and pronounced mineral character. And finally, they make orange wines like Erde, which can be found in special clay bottles.

Grape: 100% Zweigelt

The creation of the Zweigelt variety in the 1920's by Professor Fritz Zweigelt, a crossing between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent, only really gained recognition after the Second World War. Nowadays, Zweigelt is the most widespread red wine variety in Austria and can be found across sites in all of the wine-producing regions of the country. The wine spectrum ranges from young-drinking, non-wood-matured versions to strong, firm wines from the barrique. The variety is also often used as a partner for cuvée wines. In Carnuntum and Lake Neusiedl, Zweigelt frequently yields attractively opulent wines. The variety demands little from the soil but, because it is a very fertile grape, requires intensive leaf work and yield regulation. If there is potassium deficiency, high yield stress and a series of other stress factors (such as water and nutrient stress, waterlogging, imbalanced leaf to fruit ratio, extreme temperatures) the grapes wither during the ripening phase. Reasons for this have not yet been discovered.

Country: Austria
Region: Styria

Styria is a mountainous, forested state in southern Austria, known for its wine, spas and castles. Steiermark, or Styria, is the southernmost wine producing region in Austria, bordering Slovenia. The hilly terrain and the region's cool take on the Mediterranean climate mean that viticulture here is markedly different from the rest of Austria. Steiermark's specialties include Sauvignon Blanc, wines made from the Traminer family and Schiclher. This is a rustic local rosé made from Blauer Wildbacher. Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Welschriesling are other important varieties grown here.

While threequarters of the grapes grown in Steiermark are white wine varieties, some excellent red wines are made here as well. Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Saint-Laurent all perform admirably in the region's terroir. Steiermark is one of Austria's smaller wine producing regions. It is responsible for less than 10 percent of the national wine output, and most of the wines made in the region are consumed here as well. Roughly 4,600 hectares (11,400 acres) of vineyard land is spread out across the districts of Weststeiermark, Südsteiermark and Vulkanland (previously Südoststeiermark). The terrain here is hilly, almost mountainous, and many of the vineyards are planted on steep slopes to take advantage of sunlight and the prevailing winds. Steiermark's climate is warmer than most of Austria's wine producing regions. It is almost Mediterranean in nature, though there are definite continental influences. Winters are still quite cold, and annual rainfall is high. Still, the growing season is sufficiently long to allow grapes to develop flavor complexity while retaining their acidity.

Tasting: juicy, fruit forward and spicy with notes of ripe berries, cinnamon, violets, pepper and a touch of cedar

Pairing: grilled pork chop, barbecue, gouda