2016 Umathum Rosa
Region: Neusiedlersee < Burgenland < Austria
Grapes: Zweigelt, Blaufrankish, St. Laurent
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Biodynamic farming; fermented and aged in large neutral oak casks, with a portion of stems added back into the wine as it ferments; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Josef “Pepi” Umathum
Austria, for good reason, is better known for its white wines than its reds. It’s hard to compete with such an incredible wealth of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner that thrive in the mineral rich, stony soils. But Pepi Umathum loves the Zweigelt grape, and is working to bring it some glory. A disenchanted landscape architecture student, Pepi jumped at the chance to take over his parents’ winery, which they founded in 1958. From the initial 10 acres of land near the vast lake Neusiedlerse in Austria’s center, Umathum grew his family’s holdings to nearly 90 acres. He has been practicing strict selection massale (a method of propagating grape vines using cuttings from an entire vineyard rather than selected clones) to replant his vineyards since the late 1980s, along with organic viticulture. In 2005 he converted completely to biodynamic farming and winemaking, and now he’s even keeping a flock of sheep in his vineyards for manure and pest control. This is the perfect winter rosé, bright pink in color (from these dark, thick-skinned grapes) that drinks almost like a light, chill-able red, and tastes like a basket of forest berries and spiced cherries.