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  • Richard Hemming MW
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  • Richard Hemming MW
24 Feb 2017

From €11.50, 17.50 Swiss francs, £16.95, 174.90 Norwegian krone, 277 Chinese yuan

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'The essence of this twig is formed by the smell of warmth, and the pleasantness of the heart-cherry. This is fuelled by the freshness of a Vistula over the muddy pudding of cranberries, to the sloth of a black walnut gateau.' 

So says the ever-reliable Google Translate of the tasting note for Heinrich's 2015 Zweigelt on their website. Mind you, Heinrich's own translation is hardly more cogent:

'Punctiliously perceptible warmth and the pleasant sense of comfort in the shape of Bing cherry is the essence of this Zweigelt. Clear, streamlined varietal typicity is expressed with abundant dark-berried fruit that mingles with the freshness of sour cherry, mischievous pepperiness of lingonberry, and voluptuous Black Forest cherry cake.'

I hasten to add that I am tugging their lingonberries with the warmest affection, because I loved this wine when I tasted it at the recent Austrian tasting in London (see my 45 tasting notes on Austria's indigenous reds). Besides, maybe my own tasting note deserves ridicule for its relative mundanity:

'Meaty and intense on the nose, with the most extraordinarily pure redcurrant juice on the palate. Rhubarb and rosehip too - this has excellent definition. Pure enjoyment.'

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However you describe it, the point is that Heinrich's 2015 Zweigelt is a really delicious wine. It stood out among the dozens of indigenous Austrian reds for its vivid fruit plus a savoury complexity that had an appreciably different profile to the mainstream grape varieties which can become so over-familiar. I scored it 17 out of 20, and appreciated not just its deliciously distinct flavours, but also its flexibility: it is eminently drinkable by itself, but has sufficient acidity to counter the heartiest Tafelspitz. Also, while the bright, youthful fruit is ideal for drinking now, it has sufficient concentration to age for, I suspect, almost a decade from the vintage. Furthermore, all this is achieved at a dainty 12.5% alcohol.

As the fashion for alternative varieties continues, Zweigelt should be set well to attract more attention. Destined always to be the final entry in any alphabetical list, perhaps it has thus far gone relatively unnoticed. But with the help of Austria's strong 2015 vintage, a generally warm year which evidently resulted in some top-quality raw material, Gernot and Heike Heinrich (note there are other wine producers called Heinrich) have proved just what a first-rate grape Zweigelt can be. For who among us could resist the sloth of a black walnut gateau?

Heinrich's wines are sold in 28 countries, including the USA via Winebow - for a list of all distributors, see the very useful Heinrich website.

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