It seems that in the last few years, Blaufränkisch (German for blue Frankish) has become Austria’s most successful red wine variety. It’s not a new grape: based on its name, we think that it had been growing in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. The name Fränkisch comes from Franconia, a German region praised for its quality wines in the Middle Ages, and so at the time, grapes that were producing superior wines were called Fränkisch.
Better rootstock, denser plantings, better cover crops management and nuanced winemaking explain the recent rise in quality with more and more Blaufränkisch wines showing great complexity and finesse. Some producers describe Blaufränkisch using the “triangle” comparison: the grape has the elegance of Burgundy Pinot Noir, the pepperiness of Northern Rhône Syrah, and the structure of Piedmont Nebbiolo.
Its home is Burgenland where many of the finest examples are grown. Carnuntum, a region just southeast of Vienna, is also a source of quality Blaufränkisch where they are especially fresh and elegant.
Burgenland was part of Hungary until 1921, when most of it was annexed as Austria’s ninth and easternmost state after the dissolution of he Habsburg Empire. The exception was Burgenland’s capital Sopron, which was united with Hungary with its neighboring villages.
In Hungary, Blaufränkisch is called Kékfrankos, which also means blue Frankish. The best Hungarian Kékfrankos are found not only in Sopron but also in Szekszárd, Villány, and Eger wine districts. Additionally, it is the main component in the Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) blend.
Check out our Blaufränkisch and Kékfrankos, dry and sweet, from Muhr-van der Niepoort (Austria), Rosenhof (Austria), Pfneiszl (Austria & Hungary), Bock (Hungary), Heimann (Hungary), J&J Eger Winery (Hungary), and Martinčič (Slovenia).