The St. Laurent grape is probably best know for being a proud parent of Zweigelt, if known at all. The other parent, Blaufrankisch has made quite a go by its alternate name, Lemberger, in the new world. St. Laurent hasn’t quite done the same and I suspect that even the most diehard wine geeks still haven’t tasted a wine made from this grape native to Austria.
I was one of the unconfirmed until I found a report on the promising nature of the grape in cooler climates including Prince Edward County, Ontario. A compilation of endorsements from wine importers and growers, this paper makes the case for planting the grape based on its potential for overall quality and its relatively short growing season (at least ten days earlier than pinot noir). Therry Theise called it “Pinot Noir with a savage touch” and author John Schriner has said “It comes across as Pinot Noir wearing hiking boots.”
With that my quest began. After scoping out the major wine stores of Buffalo I found one tiny suburban store that carries a Stattler 2006 St. Laurent from Burgenland. With a sleek steely label and an $18 price tag I couldn’t resist taking this one with me.
In the glass it appears deep purple with aromas of blueberry jam and blackberries with a slight gaminess. It’s lush on the palate with soft tannins and round feel but it’s noticeably lacking the acidity I associate with cool climate reds. The fruit is slightly lifted and I suspect that the grapes for this wine were slightly overripe.
This particular St. Laurent was fun and easy drinking yet I am not sold on it being such a hot grape to plant in areas where you can actually ripen pinot noir. With less ripeness and more acid it would have been something I’d pick up again. It’s a grape that every self declared wine geek should try and I’m satisfied that I added it to my palate portfolio.