Blaufränkisch

Blaufränkisch is the grape of the moment in Austria. The variety thrives in the warmer eastern region of the country's viticultural landscape that abuts the Hungarian border, known as Burgenland. Here, Blaufränkisch's propensity for early bud burst and late ripening is accommodated by consistently warm weather up until, and throughout, the usual Indian summers. Under these conditions, the variety displays its ultra-fruity aromas of bing cherry, as well as crunchy acidity and moreish tannins.

These traits, perhaps, are not surprising given that DNA testing indicates a familial relationship with the litany of other grape varieties that have, at some stages during vinous evolution, sprung from Pinot Noir's parentage. These include Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Gamay, in particular, to which Blaufränkisch is often compared.

Burgenland's ferruginous soils and Blaufränkisch's affinity for barrique handling has allowed modern practitioners including Heinrich, Weninger and Igler, for example, to craft extractive modern wines. These are often blended with international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other local grapes, including Zweigelt.

Over the German border, Blaufränkisch is known as Lemberger. It is not as well served in Germany due to the risk of early Spring frost and subsequent repercussions for both yield and quality. Nevertheless, it finds some solace in the relatively mild zone of Württemberg where wily producers blend it with the insipid Trollinger for both colour and complexity. Similarly, Blaufränkisch plays a chameleon-like role throughout eastern Europe, from Hungary to Czechoslovakia.

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