Monday, June 13, 2011

2009 Beck Zweigelt Burgenland Red Austria

Judith Beck Burgenland Austria

The Judith Beck estate is based in the commune of Gols, in the Neusiedlersee region, on the eastern side of the Lake Neusiedl. Gols is part of the larger Burgenland region in easternmost Austria, with a very warm climate defined by the Pannonian plain and the Lake, whose temperatures reach 90 degrees in the summer and is only 1.5 meters deep. Indeed, this is the country's warmest wine growing area and the first to harvest. It is the center of the production of Austria's finest dry and full-bodied red wines.

The family estate was founded in 1976 by Matthias and Christine Beck. Their daughter, Judith, assumed full control of the winery in 2004, having made her first vintage in 2001. After graduating from the Klosterneuburg Viniculture College Judith Beck gained international experience at world-renowned wineries, including Château Cos d'Estournel in Bordeaux, Braida in Piedmont and Errazuriz in Chile. Managing the family winery comes naturally to Judith who has an innate “sixth-sense” for the regional varieties Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.

Judith Beck owns a total of 13. 5 hectares of vines in Gols, with holdings in the vineyard sites Altenberg, Gabarinza, Salzberg and Schafleiten. 85% of the area is planted to red varieties - Blauer Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir and Merlot, with the remaining 15% planted to white varieties - Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.

In addition, grapes are brought in from another 5 hectares in the communes of Apetlon, Halbturn and Winden, and used in the production of the basic red wines. Vines are planted at high densities of up to 7,000 vines per hectare to limit yields and ensure ripe fruit at harvest time. Soils range from loam and clay on the lower vineyards to limestone, higher up on the ridges.

The Becks built an impressive new production and aging cellar in 2005. It allows Judith to manipulate her wines as little as possible in the vinification process, resulting in wines of pure and vivid expression of the variety and unique vintage character. Judith Beck’s wines are at once elegant, powerful, complex and possess good aging potential.

Judith and her father Matthias practiced sustainable viticulture from the outset, and converted to bio-dynamic practice with the 2007 vintage. She uses only native yeasts in the fermentation process. The Red wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, in new bariques or in open vats. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation in new barriques or in large oak barrels. Some of the red wines are also matured in large oak vats, some of which are quite old, and are already being used by the third generation of owners.

The top-level Reds, including the St. Laurent Schafleiten, Pinot Noir, Pannobile Red (a blend of 55% Zweigelt, 35% Blaufränkisch, and 10% St. Laurent), Judith (50% Blaufränkisch, 30% St. Laurent, 20% Merlot) are fermented and matured in small barriques of which a small proportion is new each year.  The estate is a member of the Pannobile association, as well as of “11 Frauen und ihre Weine” (11 Women and their Wines). 

The philosophy of the state is aptly put by Judith: “Wine and the joy of living and pleasure all go hand in hand. We prefer wines which captivate all of our senses with each new bottle and each new sip.”

2009 Beck Zweigelt Burgenland Red Austria
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Imported /distributed by VOS selections in NYC

Zweigelt is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt. It was a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria, as well as having some presence in Canada's vineyards.

Totalizing 2500 cases, this wine is Beck’s largest single production. She picks from vineyard sites in Halbturn, Apetlon and Gols. The soils are sandy-limestone-gravel (Seewinkelschotter).  Beck always uses natural yeasts for her fermentations, even for her largest production wine. The alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and then the wine is moved to old, acacia casks for the malolactic fermentation. The wines rest for 8 months in these large casks until bottling, without fining.

Judith Beck manipulates her wines as little as possible in the vinification process, resulting in wines of pure and vivid expression of the variety and unique vintage character. Her wines are at once elegant, powerful, complex and possess good aging potential. This 2009 Zweigelt, made according to bio-dynamic practices, is no exception to the rule. It presents a dark, inky ruby-purple color. The nose is fruity with ripe dark cherry, mineral, earthy aromas. The palate is soft, gentle, generous, juicy with black cherry fruit and spicy, earthy notes. The finish is rather long and despite the ripeness of the fruit, fairly fresh and crispy due to excellent focus and acidity, and very interesting integrated tannic structure. I like it a lot. Like most Loire valley wines, Austrian wines are great room temperature, but can even be better slightly chilled, especially with high Summer temperatures. Versatile and friendly, it will accommodate a wide array of food from starter, main courses and cheeses.    


LeDom du Vin

Most info and picture, except description, courtesy of VOS Selections website at

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