A speciality of, and native to, Austria’s Thermenregion, south of Vienna, Rotgipfler is sadly losing ground, with just 105 hectares left in Austria, equivalent to 0.2% of the Austrian vineyard area. There are small outposts in Slovakia and Croatia, where it is known respectively as Slatzki Zelenac and Zelenac Slatki.
Rotgipfler is a natural cross between Savagnin Blanc (known as Traminer in Austria) and the ancient Austrian light-skinned Roter Veltliner.
Around the town of Gumpoldskirchen, it is typically blended with Zierfandler to make powerful, spicy and distinguished wines. As a varietal wine, it tends to be full-bodied and mouthfilling with rich, stone-fruit flavours, ripe citrus and some spicy notes.
Well made wines are balanced by fresh acidity but the wine can be heavy if the acidity is too low. There is a tendency to leave a certain amount of residual sugar to give an off-dry wine, which works well if there is sufficient acidity.
Rotgipfler doesn’t seem to suit new oak barrels but gives good results if aged in big, neutral wooden casks. Try Austrian examples from Alphart, Aumann, Biegler, Freigut Thallern, Gebeshuber, Fischer, Johanneshof Reinisch, Landauer, Schneider, Stadlmann; and Krauthaker from Croatia.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
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