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Reminiscent of an outstanding Grand Cru Morgon or a serious village Burgundy, the 2004 Zantho St. Laurent is a crowd pleasing kind of wine. Its ruby red robe and fruit driven nose are complemented by a smooth rich palate that speaks of subtle spice and hints at the wine’s long beautifully balanced finish. And in the end, it is the Zantho’s individuality and gentle minerality that shine through. These traits come from northern Burgenland’s gravelly soil and unique climate and they are part of what vine growers generally refer to as terroir. Fortunately, Zantho’s pretty St. Laurent contains plenty of terroir to complement its charming round fruit. Each attribute adds to the wine’s considerable personality and makes it just plain easy and fun to drink from the moment it is opened. We suggest you enjoy the Zantho St. Laurent from the outstanding 2004 vintage between cool room temperature and cellar temperature (56º - 66º F). Prost!
The 2004 Zantho St. Laurent is perfectly at home with bistro food as well as a whole assortment of Mediterranean fare. Austria’s Burgenland is surprisingly warm and its climate bears more resemblance to that of Italy than it does the rest of Austria. Correspondingly, it should then come as no surprise that pastas and pizzas and more authentic regional Italian cooking provide a great resource for Zantho’s St. Laurent. Hence, we highly recommend it with just about any dish made with a genuine Alfredo sauce. It also complements most white fish that are prepared in the Livornese style with black olives, capers, herbs, and fresh tomato sauce. Salmon and tuna bring a whole host of other fine choices to accompany the Zantho as well. Atlantic Salmon with an herbed sauce and cucumbers or a charcoal grilled Pacific Swordfish over a bed of lentils in a light balsamic vinaigrette brings new meaning to red wine with fish. And certainly, dumplings, schnitzels, and other dishes that are commonly thought of as typical of Austrian cooking offer superb companionship to Zantho’s 2004 St. Laurent, too. And if it’s simply a burger or barbecue night, Zantho’s St. Laurent can surely add some panache to an otherwise mundane meal.
“Now here’s a wine I bet you’ve never had,” stated the smiling face that offered the tasting panel our first glass of wine with a lizard on the label. Frankly, some of us were a bit skeptical. Not only had most of the panel never tasted a St. Laurent wine and with good reason: it accounts for less than 1% of Austria’s wine production, but then there was the unexplainable lizard on the label. At a time like this, the panel’s mantra: You can’t drink a label or a price tag surely comes into play, so we sniffed and sniffed again…. and well, the next thing we knew the bottle was gone – a very good sign. It just goes to show you: one should never drink a label or a price tag. You never know what is in the bottle until you try it. Appearances are, indeed, deceiving. Besides, we actually think the label is both intriguing and attractive, and the story behind it even more interesting. So, let’s go onto the story behind the label.
Zantho is a relatively new venture that stars Josef Umathum, Austria’s undisputed master of the rare but difficult to grow St. Laurent varietal, and his equally astute partner in wine Wolfang Peck. Both men are regarded as two of Burgenland’s finest winemakers and they have begun Zantho in conjunction with the Andau winegrower’s cooperative. They founded Zantho in 2001, naming their enterprise after a rare genus of woodland lizard. Yet, what is even scarcer than the Zantho lizard is the delicious St. Laurent varietal these two gentlemen produce and aim to promote domestically and internationally through the Zantho label.
St. Laurent is considered an indigenous Austrian grape variety even though it is likely a distant relative to Pinot Noir of Burgundy fame and fortune. Interestingly, Umathum’s single vineyard St. Laurent, which hails from his own 45 acre estate, has been compared to Chambertin, the great red Burgundy that remains one of France’s greatest viticultural legacies. However, most St. Laurent does not reach this pinnacle of quality because it is so difficult to grow successfully and it requires special attention in the winery – something Umathum and Peck know more than a little something about. Enter Zantho to introduce to us how wonderful and interesting one of the world’s least known premium varietals can be.
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