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St. Laurent

The St. Laurent grape variety yields dark, fruity red wines, often aged in oak barrels. They clearly resemble Pinot noir. However, there is no evidence that they are related. Its origins therefore remain a mystery. The fact that they are a rare find makes them even more special. Wine aficionados should try the Czech variants in particular at least once.

Origins of the St. Laurent grape variety

The origins of St. Laurent are a mystery. Experts disagree about whether they lie in the Pinot family or whether it is a completely unrelated variety. Some suppose it originated in Alsace as the variety has been known there since the middle of the 19th century. Yet others think Austria is its homeland, where it is still relatively widespread today.
Its name is certainty no indication of French ancestry as it is generally agreed that this refers to Saint Lawrence. His feast day on 10 August namely marks the beginning of the vine’s ripening phase – after this date the grapes gradually turn red.
In Czechia and Slovakia, where the biggest growing areas are, the vine enjoys a certain popularity. It is known there as Svatovavřinecké.

Fruity St. Laurent wines

This grape variety yields full-bodied, fruity wines that resemble Pinot noir. The extract and acidity structure of a St. Laurent wine could be described as average. It varies with respect to tannins – sometimes they are softer, and at other times more astringent. Compared with red noble grapes such as Pinot noir or Cabernet Sauvignon, it has its own individual qualities. It displays a distinctive sour cherry aroma with nuances of blackcurrants, elderberries and cocoa. Even before taking a sip, the wine’s intense colour is eye-catching. In the glass it is pomegranate red.
A St. Laurent wine is capable of long ageing. As it matures, it resembles more and more the character of Pinot noir. Especially good results are achieved with barrique-ageing and so the finest St. Laurent wines are produced in oak barrels. Thanks to its pronounced fruitiness, it goes well with game and mature cheese.

Cultivation of the St. Laurent variety

The St. Laurent grape is very demanding and is difficult to grow and tend. It has little resistance to fungus and pests. It prefers loose, calcareous soils and good sites. It does not cope well with late frosts, and its yields are also unreliable. These characteristics may well be the reason why winegrowers often prefer other red varieties. It is therefore found in very few places around the world.

St. Laurent wine from the Czech Republic

St. Laurent enjoys the greatest prominence in Czechia where vintners recognized the potential of the grape and were not put off by its challenges. Around 1,300 hectares of vineyards are planted with this vine. This makes Svatovavřinecké, as it is called in Czechia, the most popular red wine grape there.Notable estates for Czech St. Laurent are located in the historic Znojemsko wine region. Superlative wines are stored in one of the biggest and most beautiful wine cellars in the world, in Přímětice near Znojmo. Under the enormous brick vaulted ceiling, St. Laurent wines are traditionally matured in oak and acacia barrels at a constant humidity. Those who wish to try the superlative bottlings should visit the impressive wine archive in Jaroslavice near the Czech-Austrian border.Svatovavřinecké is similarly popular in Velké Pavlovice, Czechia’s biggest wine region. The town of Velké Bílovice in particular should be mentioned. The St. Laurent grape thrives very well on the loamy soils of its vineyards. Along with Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent is central to Czech red wine production. Crossing the two grapes resulted in a new cultivar, with the André grape joining the range of red varieties in the 1960s.

Austrian St. Laurent wines

In Austria, St. Laurent was first planted in 1860 in Stift Klosterneuburg northwest of Vienna. Nowadays it is cultivated all over the country. It has rapidly gained in importance in recent years, with the area under vine doubling to 778 hectares. Most plantings can be found in the Thermenregion and around Lake Neusiedl.At the same location where the Austrian success story began, in 1922 oenologist Friedrich Zweigelt created a new cultivar which is now the most planted red variety in Austria. St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch were crossed, this time in the opposite direction to the André crossing, to produce the Zweigelt vine.

Cultivation in Germany

Winemaking pioneer Johann Philipp Bronner presumably introduced the grape variety to Germany, where it almost fell into oblivion. For a long time it was only grown as part of mixed cropping. Plantings gradually dwindled to 27 hectares and St. Laurent was close to extinction in Germany. The vine then experienced a resurgence in popularity at the end of the 20th century as part of a trend towards red varieties in the land of white wine. Today a total of some 657 hectares are planted to St. Laurent in Germany. Vintners are increasingly planting it in the Palatinate and Rheinhessen, and the winegrowing regions of Nahe, Baden and Moselle are also rediscovering this grape variety.Why not try a fine rare wine? Wonderful red wines are available both in Mondovino’s online shop and in Coop stores.
Colour
deep pomegranate red
Aroma
intensely fruity
Bouquet
cherry, sour cherry, nuances of blackcurrants, elderberries and cocoa
Acidity
average

St. Laurent wines