Zweigelt is a cross between Saint-Laurent and Blaufrankisch. It was created in 1922. The popularity of this variety is evident from the fact that it can be found in all Austrian wine regions, with the best examples from Burgenland and especially from Neusiedlersee.
The classic Austrian Zweigelt is deep in color with rich, vibrant flavors of spicy raspberry and cherry. While the best examples can be stored for up to a decade, most are best enjoyed within a few years.
Zweigelt unplugged wines from this grape are quite common. However, they are also frequently used in mixtures. Combining it with Cabernet and Merlot gives the Bordeaux Blend an Austrian touch. It is also often paired with Blaufrankisch, its parent variety Blaufrankisch, to create a stellar, thoroughbred (but somewhat incestuous) Austrian mix.
Zweigelt can also be used to make sweet wines. Zweigelt is used to make the most expensive wines in the world. These are dried grape strohwein or ice wine. These are not just for Austrian vineyards. At least one high-end Zweigelt ice wine is made in Canada's Okanagan Valley.
Zweigelt was created by Dr. Friedrich "Fritz", who initially called it Rotburger. This caused confusion with an entirely different variety (see Rotberger), which was created around the same period at Geisenheim. This duplication was not resolved until 1970, when Lenz Moser, an Austrian winemaker, changed the name of the variety from Dr. Zweigelt to "Zweigelt".
Zweigelt is a truly successful cross. Has desirable traits from both parents (see Saint-Laurent, Blaufränkisch). It gets its vibrant pinot de Saint-Laurent cherry aromas and the ability to make elegant, silky wines. It has inherited a fair amount of spiciness from Blaufrankisch. Zweigelt grapes are a combination of both parents, which can produce wines with a deep crimson-purple color.