By Lisa Rowlands

A hybrid variety created by crossing Blaufränkisch and St Laurent, Zweigelt was originally known by the alias Rotburger before assuming its current title in the 1970s. It successfully combines the qualities of both parents, yielding grapes which balance red fruit flavours with bright acidity, and delivering wines that range from simple and easy drinking to elegant and well-structured. Although often produced as a mono-varietal wine, Zweigelt is also blended regularly with Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as with its parent grape, Blaufränkisch. It is also used to produce highly respected ice wines in the Okanagan Valley region of Canada.

Typically Zweigelt is a vigorous, high yielding vine with compact clusters of medium sized grapes. However, this characteristic has been curbed by the application of Austria’s relatively strict wine laws and the general tendency amongst the nation’s winemakers towards quality focussed viticulture.

Whilst it is planted all over Austria, the area most synonymous with this grape is the eastern region of Burgenland close to the Hungarian border. Zweigelt varietals and blends from this area - especially those from the Neusiedlersee sub-zone - are particularly expressive. Perhaps owing to its success in Austria, the Zweigelt grape has seen its popularity increase across Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic.