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I'm getting more and more enthusiastic about the Blaufränkisch grape and am delighted that Dorli Muhr, Austria's most cosmopolitan wine promoter (with the possible exception of Laurenz Moser), is determined to organise a Blaufränkisch event in London later this year.*
It seems quintessentially middle European and to my mind produces some of the most succulent, racy reds of Austria (more distinction than the international varieties and more freshness than St Laurent). Purple Pagers can read more about a tasting devoted to the variety in Moric - king of Blaufränkisch. It is also found across the border in Hungary as Kékfrankos - a sort of direct translation of 'blue foreigner', so it was hardly surprising when DNA analysis recently demonstrated that the two varieties were identical. It is also encountered in Bulgaria as Gamé and in Germany as Lemberger or Blauer Limberger. It's also grown to a much more limited extent in Washington state, where it has been known as Lemberger.
I have long seen a relationship between Blaufränkisch and cru Beaujolais, that combination of juiciness, freshness and substance, so it is not surprising that Blaufränkisch is, as we report in Wine Grapes, a parent of Gamay Noir. But the wines are certainly not insubstantial. The Pannonian heat of the summer in this part of the world ensures that the wines are fully ripe - nothing like a Beaujolais Nouveau - and they go particularly well with food, which is quite a feat for a red wine in my experience. They also tend to be particularly good at transmitting terroir messages, being something of a blank canvas for the soil type on which they are grown.
For three or four years I have been following the 'Kalk und Schiefer' (limestone and slate) bottling of Blaufränkisch by Anita and Hans Nittnaus in Austria's Burgenland, via UK importers Lea & Sandeman. It is one of those wines that I keep meaning to feature as a wine of the week and for some reason never have until now. But the 2010 tasted earlier this week confirmed the reliability of this wine - and at a decidedly friendly price. It's just £13.95 if bought as part of a mixed dozen. Here's my tasting note:
A&H Nittnaus, Kalk und Schiefer Blaufränkisch 2010 Burgenland 17/20 Drink 2013-2016
Fluid yet mineral and bone dry on the end. I meant to make a previous vintage of this a wine of the week and it is certainly worthy of attention. Very distinctive. Very bright fruit with a suggestion of sucking stones. Extremely appetising and vigorous. 12.5%
But I have similar, almost as enthusiastic notes on previous vintages. The 2009 is still available in Switzerland and Germany.
I see there are tasting notes on 138 Blaufränkisch wines in our database, at least 40 of them with a score of at least 17/20. Top producers include Moric, Muhr-van der Niepoort, Pittnauer, Prieler, Schiefer, Umathum and Wohlmuth. Do try one if you haven't already. These are wines for drinking!
*If you're interested in finding out more about the London Blaufränkisch event, contact Dorli of Wine&Partners (and the exciting Carnuntum producer Muhr-van der Niepoort) at firstname.lastname@example.org.