In honor of an upcoming seminar at ProWein featuring Jancis Robinson’s newest book, Wine Grapes, highlighting less-explored grapes including our friend Zierfandler (aka Spätrot), we will cover this grape today!
Zierfandler makes up just a small portion of Austria’s output with just 85 hectares accounting for 0.19% of total production, but this was not always the case. Most famously grown into the Thermenregion, the grape was originally part of the Gumpoldskirchen Königswein, or the “Kings wine of Gumpoldskirchen.”
Unfortunately, the popularity of Zierfandler has decreased in Austria, but it is still considered to be a noble grape and is much appreciated by sommeliers. Zierfandler is originally a natural cross between Traminer and Roter Veltliner, two other grapes with quite small production in Austria.
It makes little demand on soil, but requires the best vineyard sites to truly shine. Zierfandler boasts a characteristic richness with smoky tones, distinct spice, and ripe stone fruits, melon, and grapefruit flavors and a slightly nutty character. The wines have excellent aging potential due to their acidity. The grape can also produce delicious TBA wines.
Zierfandler is wonderful company for spicy cuisine, but also pairs well with Austria’s signature white asparagus, weightier dishes, and cheeses.