Vienna is a wine metropolis – in terms of wine history, as well as the considerable area under vine, and the number of wine estates. Some 630 wine producers and 180 Heurigen, a Viennese sausage and wine bar that is a social gathering place, much the way the local pub is in Britain, form the core of this culture. Most of the wine made here is destined for the Heurigen and made to be drunk within a year. The sales of bottled wines of higher quality, however, are increasing steadily. The best vineyards produce extraordinary Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as powerful Chardonnay and concentrated red wines. Weinbau Zahel began life as a family-run heurigen. The heurigen is still operating and is an important part of the family’s life, but the brothers, Alfred and Richard began bottling wine for sale outside the heurigen in 1994. In 2000, they were awarded “Viennese Winegrower of the Year” and began exporting around the same time.The family has a long tradition in Vienna--at least since 1724 and is committed to the family tradition in viticulture-- they hand harvest all grapes and restrict the yield to about 1 bottle per vine-- yet open to innovation-- they are experimenting with new varietal clones to optimize wine quality. The wines are characterized by a close connection to nature and region – the butterfly symbolizes nature-oriented winemaking. They still strive to enhance orientation along ecological principles.Since inception (1930), Weingut Zahel has refrained from using herbicides and pesticides. Today, they cultivate the vines organically, strictly following Demeter's biodynamic guidelines. Most of the vineyard work is done by hand. Also, to increase biodiversity, they use special compost and plant species-rich greenery in between vine rows. Since 2018 all wines have been certified as either Organic or Biodynamic under Demeter certification.
Blaufrankisch is Austria’s second most planted red varietal (after Zweigelt, a product of crossing Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent) and it is gaining traction in international circles as an emerging big, rich, red wine when cultivated and vinified correctly. Without doubt, Zahel’s Blaufrankisch is one of the best examples of this varietal, aided by their focus on single vineyard, organically managed vines (in this case the acclaimed Goldberg vineyard), very mature, low yielding vines (57 yr. old vines), along with subtle but important wood aging.
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