Burgenland is different! While cool and damp weather predominated in the rest of Austria, the far eastern regions had one of the driest and warmest growth periods ever. The grapes were already completely ripe and ready to be picked at the beginning of September. The first tastings have confirmed that this vintage is an excellent one. The wines are full with deep notes of fruit.
After an unusually dry winter that brought neither snow nor rain, the vintners were very pleased when some light showers arrived just before Easter at the end of March. They were equally baffled by the capricious weather period that followed. Relatively warm temperatures accompanied the arrival of spring, but winter weather returned unexpectedly at the beginning of April. Then, warm, summery days arrived at the end of the month causing the vines to sprout very early. A warm and very dry May (Andau had only 23.5 mm of rain) and several bouts of foehn hastened the vegetational development of the vines. It remained warm throughout the flowering which began at the end of May. These optimum weather conditions brought about very abundant crops of grapes.
After a heatwave in June when the temperature rose over 30°C on 11 days (with a high temperature of 36.7°C on June 23rd), the vines were 3 ½ weeks ahead in their development. The grapes remained small and developed thick skins due to the lack of rain. To safeguard their quality and prevent any damage from occurring, approximately 80% of the Zantho vineyards were watered by our drip-irrigation system. Thus, the basic water requirements of the vines could be met.
A few drops of rain finally fell in July, but it wasn't enough to end the drought-like conditions. The Zantho vineyards were spared from the hail that fell between Gols and Halbturn. High temperatures caused the first grapes to begin turning red by mid-July. At the end of July, the nights turned cool-weather that was reminiscent of autumn. The ripening process progressed quickly: all the red-wine grapes had turned colour by the beginning of August. It remained hot and dry until the long-awaited rain finally arrived in mid-August. While this weather front brought catastrophic amounts of rainfall to other parts of the country, Burgenland got only the tail-end of it.
The sun quickly won the upper hand again, with cool nights that only enhanced the aroma of the 2002 vintage. The early grape-sorts, St. Laurent, Zweigelt and Pinot Noir were of excellent quality and ready to be picked as of September 5th (100° Oechsle /23.7 Brix) wasn't unusual). Following a short break, the Blaufränkisch grapes were harvested with results that were no less remarkable.
The vintage went pretty smoothly and was finished within two weeks time. The yield per hectare was 20% less than in the previous year due to the small grapes and low precipitation levels. Rot was not a factor during this year's vintage.
At the beginning of this new year, we can in good conscience make our first prognosis: the vintage of 2002 leaves nothing to be desired. The supreme quality of the red wines with deep notes of fruit and fullness are a true pleasure and meet our own high expectations. ZANTHO, one of the driving examples among the "new" lines of Austrian red wines, has delivered an exciting sequel with the vintage of 2002.