St. Laurent Grape Variety & Wine Profile

St. Laurent: Delicate and Savage

St. Laurent is a deceptive grape variety that has no association with the designer Yves St. Laurent, though an internet search might suggest otherwise. DNA profiling indicates that St. Laurent is an offspring of Pinot Noir conceived with an anonymous second parent, but this remains unconfirmed. Still, like other whippersnappers whose birthrights are vague, St. Laurent has a wild side that Pinot Noir lacks. One way to describe St. Laurent at its finest is the capability of expressing the power and spice of a Rhone Valley wine with the elegance and delicacy of a red Burgundy.

The Mysterious Origins of St. Laurdent

St. Laurent’s similarities and differences from Pinot Noir are not its only mystery; the origin of its name and provenance are also cloudy. Some attribute it to the Bordeaux village of Saint-Laurent-Médoc in the Gironde department in southwestern France. Others to the August 10th holy day, Feast of St. Lawrence, which is a memorial to the heroic martyr and patron saint of the poor and cooks. The vine was named St. Laurent because this celebration coincides with its berries changing color and becoming edible, a phase known as veraison. However, the real puzzler isn’t its calling. It’s why the generally accepted country of origin is Austria? Given all the geographic and historic references stemming from Bordeaux. One theory is that an earlier conception of St. Laurent developed in Bordeaux and made its way from France via Alsace and Germany into Austria and the Czech Republic.

Remarkably, all this evidence is valid and correct as St. Laurent is an “autochthonous variety.” Meaning it can naturally crossbreed or mutate within its terroir, and throughout its development, the vine adapts to the resident environment and correspondingly articulates itself while maintaining its underlying heritage. In modern viticulture, autochthonous grape varieties are studied as exemplary outgrowths of their terroir and regarded as representative of a region.

Terroir

St. Laurent prefers dry, deep, stony alluvial soils composed of limestone clay, silt, and gravel, planted on slopes exposed to the warmth of the sun and cool evening breezes. Currently, St. Laurent is grown in Austria, Germany, Slovakia, California, Canada, New Zealand, and is the most planted red variety in the Czech Republic.

The Structure, Taste & Style of St. Laurent Wines

Although St. Laurent remains a reasonably obscure variety, it has gained the attention of producers in other regions and is considered to have world-class potential. It is traditionally produced as a dry red wine, although there are sparkling, dry rosé and sweet styles. In the glass, its color can range from having a pale red berry or garnet to dark purple or ruby color. The wine is intensely aromatic, developing an extraordinary bouquet of roses, violets, cherries, raspberry, cardamom, tar, sweet cigar tobacco, graphite, and bramble.

In terms of taste, St. Laurent presents flavors of Morello cherry, raspberries, anise, leather, and clay with a harmonic ratio of acid and tannins and a balanced mouthfeel. It ends with lush dark fruit, a bit on the tangy side, and a perceivably structured, yet silky length, resulting in a wine that is savory, intense, and toes a fine line between delicate and savage.

Pairing St. Laurent With Food

St. Laurent is a gastronomic delight that pairs with both Haute and carryout cuisine; some compliments you may consider are Margherita pizza, classic burger, chili Verde, spicy chicken wings, Moo Shu pork, Peking duck, Vietnamese shaking beef, steak au poivre, roasted leg of lamb, lamb shish kebabs, Swedish meatballs, Korean style ribs, baba ghanoush, herb-roasted chicken, chicken makhana, salmon with currants and Catalan bean sausage stew.

Current Countries Producing St. Laurent

The Czech Republic

Austria

Germany

Switzerland: Sankt Laurent

Slovakia: Synonyms: Svätý Vavrinec, St. Laurent, Pinot St-Laurent, Sanktlorenztraube

USA, California

Canada

New Zealand

Major Current St. Laurent Producers by Country

Austria

Claus Preisinger Ancestral Sparkling, Burgenland

Erich Sattler, Burgenland

Brigitte & Gerhard Pittnauer Dorflagen, Burgenland

Juris Selection St. Laurent, Burgenland

Rosi Schuster St. Laurent Klassik, Burgenland

Meinklang Konkret, Burgenland

Keringer Commander, Burgenland

Gernot and Heike Heinrich, Burgenland

Paul Achs, Burgenland

Zantho, Burgenland

Umathum Vom Stein, Burgenland

Brigitte & Gerhard Pittnauer Altenberg, Burgenland

Umathum, Burgenland

R & A Pfaffl Alten, Niederosterreich

Johanneshof Reinisch Holzspur Grand Reserve, Thermenregion

Johanneshof Reinisch, Thermenregion

Stift Klosterneuburg Reserve,Thermenregion

Germany

Anselmann Edesheimer Ordensgut Trocken, Pfalz

Kuntz Sankt Laurent Trocken, Pfalz

Winzergenossenschaft Herxheim Herxheimer Honigsack Trocken, Pfalz

Thomas Hensel Aufwind Trocken, Pfalz

Slovakia

Masaryk, Small Carpathian wine region

LVD Limbach, Small Carpathian wine region

Skovajsa, South Slovak

California, USA

Scribe St. Laurent, Carneros, Carneros

Cruse Wine Co. Sparkling Petillant Naturel, Carneros

Forlorn Hope ‘Ost-Intrigen’ Ricci Vineyard Carneros

The Czech Republic

Z Czech, Moravia (This is a blanket name for most Czech wine imported to the USA)

Habanske Sklepy Svatovavrinecke

Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Cinsault
Grenache
Malbec
Marsanne
Nebbiolo
Petit Verdot
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Meunier
Riesling
Tannat
Teroldego

Written By Jeff Bareilles

Jeff or “JB” is a native to the San Francisco Bay area and wants to live in a world where wine is served with every meal. As a beverage and food professional with more than 20 years of experience, he’s contributed to The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine; The Pho Cookbook (James Beard Award Best Signal Subject 2018); Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life (James Beard Award Lifetime Achievement Award 2018); Manresa: An Edible Reflection; Happiness is on the Plate: Episode #1; Wine Spectator; Wine Enthusiast; The Wall Street Journal; San Francisco Chronicle; and GQ Magazine. When he’s not “tasting” and eating he’s writing about food and beverage or developing recipes in his laboratory (AKA: kitchen).


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The Structure and Style of St. Laurent Wines

Body Medium

Sugar Dry - Sweet

Acid Medium

Alcohol Medium

Tannins Medium Plus

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Very informative piece. Thank you for all of the detailed background. As you’ve noted, we have a little bit of St Laurent in Canada but I would love to explore some from Austria. I love Pinot Noir and anything which might be related to it. Cheers!

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