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Stift Klosterneuburg Zierfandler-Rotgipfler 2016

Thermenregion, Austria, $25

The oldest wine estate in Austria, the Klosterneuburg Monastery grows native white grapes zierfandler and rotgipfler in vineyards just south of Vienna. Some say if you like Austrian grape grüner veltliner, you’ll like rotgipfler, but one has to have tried grüner veltliner to know this.

Equal contributions from zierfandler and rotgipfler are blended together in an off-dry version of this traditional wine. The lemon-yellow wine announces itself with an audible release of carbon dioxide upon unscrewing its cap. Peach and lime dominate the delicately creamy palate, where a hint of fizz can be detected. The finish exhibits almond and spicy white pepper notes and ends with a salty smack.

Don’t let the tongue-twisting name prevent you from enjoying this little gem, which is capable of aging in your cellar long enough to learn how to pronounce it.

Pair it with: dumplings in cream sauce, medium-spicy Asian dishes, and Viennese fish fillets.

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Jonathan Edwards Primitivo Rosé 2019

Lodi, California, $25

With cool temperatures and a short growing season, Connecticut’s climate presents some challenges to winegrowing. Known for their bicoastal approach to winemaking, Jonathan Edwards Winery hedges its bets by fermenting grapes for some of its wines on the West Coast before bringing the wine to North Stonington for aging and bottling.

This rosé’s primitivo grapes (genetic relatives of zinfandel) produce a wine of stunning luminescent copper with peach-fuzz pink highlights. The nose is an explosion of ripe, red fruits with a subtle undercurrent of macchia. The fruit becomes predominantly cranberry on the palate, where primitivo’s trademark bitterness combines with just the right amount of tartness. Juicy, lingering finish.

Big, juicy and with a bit of grip, this flavorful wine is “summer water” on steroids.

Pair it with: creamy burrata cheese with tomatoes and basil, stuffed mussels, or chicken rillette with crusty bread.

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Elena Walch Lagrein 2019

Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, $18

When architect Elena Walch married into a venerable Alto Adige wine family, she brought her modern philosophy with her. Fifth-generation daughters now share responsibility for this family winery. The ancient Lagrein grape, the most significant red in a white-dominated area, flourishes here in the cool Northeast Italy climate, producing intensely hued, food-friendly wines.

This bold wine is a deeply saturated, tongue-coating (literally!) violet purple. Dark red berries abound on the nose, peppered with hints of spice-laden chocolate. Notes of black cherry and plum bob on a sea of subtle sandalwood. Crisp acid, tannins that emerge from the background for a brief solo on the finish, and a full body make this an excellent candidate for pairing. Ample yet approachable. 

This wine has the heft of a cabernet with the quaffability of a merlot.

Pair it with: pappardelle with veal ragù, cheese-topped bison burgers, or creamy polenta with roasted mushrooms.

Renée B. Allen, CSW, FWS, CSS, is a wine and spirits expert and the director of the award-winning Wine Institute of New England, which offers wine and spirits education and events. Allen is a professor at the University of New Haven, a wine competition director and judge, and can be seen on WFSB’s Better Connecticut.

This article appears in the May 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.