On October 28th, Bin Ends held one of their “Fine Wine Flea Markets”. It was a nice affair – numerous distributors with numerous wines at discounted prices. Yet I wasn’t after “fine wine”, I was looking for “plonk” or as I’ve come to call it, vin ordinaire. My new terminology may be a bit pretentious and even though I’ve used “plonk” 100’s of times, I’ve never liked the word – perhaps it’s the onomatopoetic aspect I find off-putting. Plonk! So the mission – vin ordinaire for $12 a bottle or less. At Bin Ends, this isn’t a difficult task since a good selection of wines fall into this category. Now the Boston Globe for this year’s recently published “Plonkapalooza” feature set $15 per bottle as the defining limit of plonk. This is cheating. Frankly, it’s no big deal to find a decent wine for that price; however, it takes a bit of work to find a decent bottle for $12. (And in the back of my mind, I always hear Fred Franzia of Bronco Wine Co. creator of “Two Buck Chuck” intoning, “No wine is worth more than $10 a bottle.” ) I’ve digressed. My intention was to load up on value Cote du Rhônes, my go-to autumn wine. I grabbed several of these and was looking for a Zinfandel – for my occasional at-home burger – when I came upon the Ecker Zweigelt. The price was right – $11.20 – and so was the size – 1 liter. The clincher was the importer – this was a Terry Theise Estate Selection imported by Michael Skurnik. How could I go wrong with a provenance like this? Unlike another hip importer who plasters his label on the back of each bottle he imports, I don’t feel that I’m paying an extra premium for the privilege of drinking the wines of Messrs. Skurnik and Theise.
A bit of background info – The varietal, a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch and named for its creator Fritz Zweigelt, is the most widely planted red grape in Austria. And, when cultivated thoughtfully, makes a most friendly wine. (Austria was once known for producing lots of bad – and even deadly – plonk . The country’s wines are now more thoughtfully produced.) The Ecker has a rich nose of earthiness, ripe plums, autumn leaves, a bit of barnyard and a bit of beast – for a moment I wondered whether I was drinking a renegade Pinot. The wine is full with fruit and earth flavors resolving into a spicy finish. A good dose of acidity and low tannins – in addition to 12.5% alcohol – make for a very versatile pairing partner. And that led me to decide that Zweigelt will be my Thanksgiving wine. I’m confident it can go head-to-head with all those nefarious side dishes. And since Thanksgiving is still weeks away, I have plenty of time to research and find the best example of this wine for the feast. I’m on a Zweigelt quest – stay tuned.
2009 Ecker Zweigelt Austria
available at Bin Ends