Reading “Zantho” in big white letters on the label, I just assumed I was looking at Greek wine. But then my eyes drew me to smaller print, reading “Burgenland.” Hmmmâ€
Zantho, it turns out, is an Austrian winery producing red wines from Andau, a small town in eastern Burgenland near the Hungarian border. The enterprise is only about 5 years old'a very modern wine-producing facility'so don’t go looking for any rare vintages of Zantho wines just yet.
I don’t usually associate red wines with Austria, although that Austrian “monkey wine” has been around here for a while. But then, I never really think of lizards in connection to Austria either, and that’s the Zantho logo: a woodland lizard called zootoca vivipara pannonica (Pannonian woodland lizard), which is found in the Hansag nature reserve located just south of Andau. The folks at Zantho chose the woodland lizard as a symbol of their “nature-friendly cultivation of the vineyards.” “An ecologically sound approach to vineyard work not only stimulates the growth of the vines, it preserves the habitat of numerous animals and microorganisms,” say the folks at Zantho.
Frankly, I was a bit taken aback by the sophistication and intense fruit of Zantho St. Laurent 2003 ($13.95). St. Laurent is the grape variety'rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of Austria’s wine production'and the wine is deep red to almost purple in color. It’s powerful yet silky, with a long finish and impressive balance, not at all unlike a tasty Chambertin Burgundy but at much less expense. There’s also a pleasing minerality, since the grapes are grown in the gravelly soil of Burgenland. Track down some of this stuff: You won’t regret it.
The other Zantho wine I found locally is Zantho Zweigelt 2003 ($13.95). Put on Play That Funky Music by White Cherry when you enjoy this cherry-bomb wine made from Austrian Zweigelt grapes. I found the ’03 Zantho Zweigelt to be a bit softer than the St. Laurent, but also with intense fruit, smooth tannins and some spiciness on the finish. Either of these Zantho reds would be a fine, inexpensive addition to a barbecue. Kudos to the Brett Clifford and the folks at the wine procurement office of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for bringing this rarity to Utah.
Sips: On Sept. 2, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sundance Resort will host its first annual Food and Wine Festival, featuring top vintners and some of Utah’s best restaurants and chefs. “The first annual Sundance Food and Wine Festival is an exciting opportunity to host some of the best restaurants in the state and showcase our Sundance Label wines in an effort to benefit the Sundance Nature Preserve, which is committed to protecting this canyon for generations to come,” says Fred Johnson, Sundance director of operations.
The event features vintners of the Sundance Label Wine Program which include: Selby Winery with its Sundance Chardonnay; Bethel Heights, Sundance Pinot Noir; Mer Soleil, late Harvest Viognier; Judd’s Hill, Sundance Merlot; Honig, Sundance Sauvignon Blanc; and Livingston Moffett, Sundance Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, participating restaurants for the first annual Sundance Food and Wine Festival include Sundance’s Tree Room and Foundry Grill, Zoom, The Blue Boar Inn, CafÃ© Trio, Chimayo, Fresco Italian CafÃ©, Grappa, Lugano, Pine Restaurant, Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli and Wahso.
The first annual Food and Wine Festival takes place on the Sundance Resort front lawn, at the base of Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon and also includes a silent auction. For event tickets and information, phone 801-223-4567.