I’ve waxed poetic before about my favorite new wine spot in town Garagiste. Well Eric and Mario have a wine club where they shoot out an email when they get in new wines. Most are limited quantity, but all are amazing and fun. When I saw a Zweigelt Pet Nat on the email, I knew I had to have it! Thanks guys, for yet again introducing me to an amazing wine.
This wine is an outlier, and there is a bit to unpack here. It’s a Pet-Nat, made of Zweigelt from a biodynamic vineyard in Kamptal in Austria. We will start first with Austrian Wine.
Austria is a country that is re-emerging in the wine world. This is an old region for wine, it is thought that the Celtic tribes brought grapes to the region before the Romans arrived.
The 1980’s were not good for Austria, and there were years where much of the wine produced was bulk wine for the German market. Wine controls were tightened to assure quality and they have worked there way back into the quality wine world.
Most of the wine in the country comes from the East and south east portions of the country. This is broken into 3 regions: Steiermark, Burgenland and Neiderösterreich or Lower Austria.
Neiderösterreich or Lower Austria is actually the Northernmost of these regions. It is the largest of the regions, with the Danube River traversing the southeastern part of the region. It contains 7 subregions, the one we will focus on is Kamptal.
Kamptal is named for the Kamp river that flows through the region. The area has wide diurnal shifts (warm days, cool nights). Grapes are often grown on terraced slopes. The soils here vary as to the vineyard aspects, which means wines from this region can vary in character.
The Kamptal DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus), is one of the now, 17 designated DAC regions in Austria. The Kamptal DAC covers the Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings made there. Our wine is made of Zweigelt, which is the 2nd most planted wine grape in Austria. But as it is not a recognized variety in this region, our wine sports the more generic “Österreich” for Austrian wine.
Our wine comes from Hager Matthias. They have 13 hectares near the village of Mollands. Matthias Hager is the owner and winemaker. He worked his family’s vineyard and eventually moved his vineyard to organic practices and then in 2006 began farming biodynamically.
Matthias is thought of as one of the most experimental winemakers in the region. He has 3 lines of wine. The blue line wines are refreshing and fruity and are an introduction level for their natural wines. The Brown line is their next level natural wine, with a bit more character and the red line is their “PUR” line which free of added sulfites. Our wine is in their blue line.
Hager Matthias Zweigelt Pet Nat 2018
This is a natural sparkling wine made from 100% Zweigelt. Time for a little more explanation.
This grape is a cross of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent, created by Dr. Zweigelt. While it is the 2nd most planted grape in Austria, it is not often found outside Austria.
Short for pétillant naturel, this is a lightly sparkling wine made via the method ancestral. This method bottles wine which is only partially fermented. The wine continues to ferment in the bottle catching the CO2 bubbles which give the wine it’s fizz. These wines are low in alcohol and are typically closed with a crown cap, like old soft drink bottles.
The Zweigelt is grown in soils of loam, Schist, and loess. It is fermented in stainless steel and then unfined, unfiltered and with no added sulfites is bottled, while still fermenting.
This wine was pink with a copper tinge. It was clear, but there was a bit of sediment in the bottle of the bottle. This was expected as it is unfined and filtered and it was still fermenting when bottled. The nose had white cherry, blood orange, wet stone, cranberry and mandarin orange. It had lovely acid and was bright and lively in my mouth. The wine was 11.5% alcohol and I spent $27.00 on it.
We put together a cheese plate and it went well with everything, from brie to manchego to honeyed goat cheese to rosemary gouda, with smoked salmon, cherries and raspberries, prosciutto, Italian sausage, pecans, and almonds.
Overall, this was a bottle of joy. I have had Pet-Nats before that had some funk on them. (And don’t get me wrong, it was good funk). This wine was clear and vibrant, with a rich fruit note. My recommendation…if you see this, get it!
Resources & Sources
If you want to know more about Austrian Wine, the Austrian Wine Media Board site has all the information you could ever want! I’m including links to their home page, the page on Kamptal and their page on Zweigelt for you.
If you are interesting in learning more about Hager Matthias, get your google translate ready! I’ll include the link to their site as well as a couple others I found from distributors
Wine Enthusiast has a great article on Pét-Nat
Lastly, if you are in Vegas, and you are looking for wine, Garagiste has you covered. You can visit their site or go to their Link Tree (which you can find through Instagram) where you can find the list of what they currently have.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.