Regional wines: Blaufränkisch

December 13, 2006 at 5:47 pm | Posted in Austria | Leave a comment
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Having moved to Austria two years ago, I was meanwhile able to learn about some fine red wines that were completely unknown to me before. It’s a shame to admit, but I had never heard of Zweigelt before – any visitor of Austria should know this light, low tannin wine.

It took me even longer to learn about Blaufränkisch which in my view is the finest red wine there is in Europe, also low in tannin, but by no means sweet, very elegant in taste, more elegant than Zweigelt, more powerful, but by no means overwhelming . I am not a huge fan of those throat-wrenching Spanish wines with a smokebox aftertaste which where in fashion ten years ago. Blaufränkisch might be mistaken for smoky by those who taste it the first time. It often needs a little time and decantation before its full flavour is unleashed – shame on those who don’t take the time for that.

Blaufränkisch grape

Blaufränkisch’s typically grown in the east of Austria and the West of Hungary – at a wine tasting that I attended recently I learned that Austrian wine-growers have only begun to establish their reputation in growing red wines over the past 20 years. There is a lot that I still need to learn about wines and wine tasting, so maybe that is why I was so deeply impressed by the event and the wine grower Franz Weninger who was there with this son to explain how they foster their wines.

They have completely switched to organic cultvation, and they’ve also adopted a terroir policy:

The Terroir-France website asserts that “a ‘terroir’ is a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine.” Some writers include history, tradition, vineyard ownership and other factors. (Source)

In other words: All the wine in one bottle (or cask, rather) comes from the same vinyard. As a result, the geological qualities of the soil have a distinctive effect on the wine. I bought twelve bottles of Blaufränkisch Hochäcker recently, and also the bottles themselves came in slightly different qualities I have found out – some can be drunk right away, others need some grooming. I actually like that – you get to know the wine.

This is the link to the Weninger Winery – not intended as advertisement, but it cannot do any harm to link to regional producers either.

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