2019-C Zahel "Orange T" Orangetraube, Vienna, Austria (750ml)
A Monthly Wine Club Selection
Orangetraube is a rare golden yellow and aromatic white grape variety that is most often found in Austrian field blends. The grapes' skin takes on a slightly orange tint when fully ripe, hence the name Orangetraube, which literally translates to "Orange Grape." The Orange “T” presents juicy and refreshing under-ripe peach and apricot stone fruit, with a subtle minerality. The wine's fine acidity is well-balanced and beautifully integrated.
Orangetraube was originally selected from wild vines by the influential German viticulturist Johann Phillip Bronner in 1840. Since it's recognition in the "Lexicon der Rebsorten" (Lexicon of Grape Varietals) by August Wilhem von Babo in 1954, it's been cultivated in Germany and Austria, though most entirely as part of a field blend and rarely as a single-variety wine. Orangetraube has been a part of Zahel's Gemischter Satz field blends since the winery began in 1930, but only since 1966 did Karl Georg Zahel select the variety and isolate it in a single vineyard. He had noticed that the Orangetraube gave his Gemischter Satz a unique quality and sought to highlight the little-known grape as a single varietal wine. Two generations later, Zahel is still the only Austrian winery that produces a wine composed of 100% Orangetraube. After being carefully harvested from 42-year-old vines, the grapes were fermented and aged completely in stainless steel.
The Zahel winery has been family owned and operated for several generations. After a brief career as a race car driver, Richard Zahel joined the business in 1989 at which time the winery had only half of a hectare of vineyards and a four-table Heurigen wine tavern. During the same year, Richard began writing "Wiener Gemischter Satz" on Zahel's wine labels, and in doing so, began formally connecting this local, tradition-rich Viennese “field blend” to its city of origin. Vienna is the only major city in the world that has vineyards within its city limits, and Zahel is the only winery in Vienna with vineyards in all of the city's growing districts, allowing them to incorporate the unique terroir of each area into their wines. Alexander Zahel is the fourth-generation winemaker and general manager of Winery Zahel. Since joining his uncle in the business in 2005, Alex has focused his efforts on transitioning the winery toward organic and biodynamic production, a process which was completed with full certification as of the 2018 vintage. Though his winemaking focus lies firmly in traditional Austrian varietals and the quintessential Viennese field blend, he also draws inspiration from his extensive travels in France and time working on vineyards in Australia and New Zealand.