For three generations the Kracher family has led the way in the Seewinkel, a sleepy corner of Austria to the east of Lake Neusiedl, just an hour’s drive from Vienna. It was Alois Kracher Senior, back in the ‘50s and ‘60s who first realized the potential of the area for quality wine growing. Then in 1991, Alois Junior (Luis) set the world on fire with his ‘new’ style of dessert wine, focussing on finesse and balance more than just outright sweetness.
With multiple 100 point scores from the likes of Robert Parker and the Wine Enthusiast, the Kracher family quickly became the tops in Austrian wine. When über-somm, Aldo Sohm from Le Bernardin, decided to try his hand at winemaking, he went directly to Kracher to form a partnership. These wines are represented on nearly every 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants wine list across the world. So, there was no surprise from me when Kracher’s 2017 Zweigelt came out on top in a blind-tasting of red Burgundies with the wait staff at Barrel and Roost. Ed, our great, chop-busting GM at the restaurant, threw it in there just to throw me for a loop. And he did, I certainly didn’t guess that it was Zweigelt, a grape variety indigenous to Austria, but I did identify it as the best damn wine in a lineup of Burgundian 90-some pointers with price tags double or triple the price.
I also identified it as Pinot-like, with vibrant violet color, a pretty and complex nose of purple flowers and wild black raspberries. The finish was long and so fine, just firm enough to make it stand up to any cut of grilled meat. But there was something else, an unknown savory element, a bit of earth and spice that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Flat out delicious but just not Burgundy, something else, blessed with what we are calling the Teutonic Funk.
I know I am asking you to go out on a limb, it’s a weird variety from a county not generally associated with great red wine. But believe me, it’s worth the roll. Go for it!
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