Thursday, June 10, 2010

First experience with an unusual grape: St. Laurent

The red grapes of the central European countries, are an unusual lot, with combinations of flavors that most find at least perplexing, and some find off-putting. I for the most part have enjoyed my occasional meeting with such varieties as Blaufrankish and Zweigelt. Last night, I had for the first time a grape that to my palate is the most unusual of them: a St. Laurent, from Austria. It happens that Zweigelt is actually a cross of Blaufrankish and St. Laurent, so I've now met the "whole family." In short, a positive experience and an excellent wine. I'll be happy to have St. Laurent cross my path again, though I confess I might not seek it out.

Zantho, St. Laurent, Burgenland 2006 (Austria)

My first experience with this grape. Dark ruby. A rather stinky nose, but with some excellent components, notably showing the same wet gravel and tobacco notes that one finds in Haut-Brion, with dark fruit, a faint whiff of flowers (roses perhaps?), and a very prominent note of lemon. On the palate, cherry, dominate notes of tart lemon/citrus, dark, tarry plum, a faint hint of flowers, then very earthy wet gravel and tobacco notes. Medium-full bodied. The combination of prominent lemon acidity with a generous earthy character pushes the limits of conventional balance, but there is good quality and character in this wine, with excellent aromatic components. On the balance I like it quite a bit, and in its best moments I would give it an Exceptional (90 - 93) rating, but one does have to make some allowances, and meet it on its own terms. Drink now. Excellent / Exceptional (89 - 91). [6/9/10]