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 … Continue reading The Rise of Blaufränkisch
This week’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is the dazzling Pfneiszl Zweigler thanks to this Instagram post from wine lover Shelley Warkentin: Crushed this tasty Zweigelt over the weekend. Really loving this grape as an alternative to rosé on hot days, especially with a little chill on it.⚡️Also, I want to hang out with the two awesome sisters, Birgit and Katrin, who made this wine. @pfneiszlestate #glouglou #pfneiszlwinery #zweigler #zweigelt #austrianwine #realwine #birgitundkatrin #bluedanubewine Affirmative! The 1 Liter Zweigler from the Pfneisl sisters is just what you need on a hot day. Try also his brother, the spicy 1 Liter Blaufränker. Both are bright, fruity as well as organic. And don’t forget to follow Shelley Warkentin on on Instagram.
Chilled #kadarka on a hot Friday afternoon? Yes, please. Today’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is a contribution from Orshi Kiss, Blue Danube Wine Co. Southern California Sales Manager. For sure, Kadarka is one of her favorite grapes! Thought to be originally from the Balkans where its still commonly planted – and where it’s also known as Gamza – Kadarka by now thought of in Hungary as one of the traditional red grapes. It is naturally low in tannins and usually a lighter bodied wine, which makes it a perfect, chillable summer red. Some of the best examples come from the region of Szekszárd — enjoy this spicy, elegant yet fun Kadarka from Heimann Winery. Kadarka is a delicate grape variety producing delightful wines and it is great news that planting is slowly increasing in Hungary and neighboring countries. Check that article to learn more about it: Kadarka, Cadarca, Gamza.
Sixty miles west of Tokaj, the Hungarian wine region of Eger is one of Europe’s most northerly red wine appellations. It is famous for its Egri Bikavér, a red blend usually made from Kadarka, Kékfrankos and other international varieties. Kékfrankos thrives on the multifaceted volanic hills that protected the Eger vineyards from the cold north winds. Dr. Janos Stumpf, winemaker at the J&J Eger Winery and one of the “J” in the label, sourced his Eged Hegy Kékfrankos from dry-farmed vines on the Eged Hegy (Eged Hill). The wine is deeply colored and exhibits complex aromas of mint, sweet fruit and moka. On the palate, the wine has an amazing silky mouth-feel, and lots of freshness and balance. Perfect with grilled lamb chops and ratatouille. The other J of the label is Master Sommelier, wine critic and author John Szabo, who recently published Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power, an informative read on volcanic wines from around the world, including Hungary.
Speaker, sommelier, award-winning writer – author of The MODERN GENTLEMAN: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice, Jason Tesauro recently reviewed our first wine from Serbia, Maurer Kadarka 1880 2015 on Instagram: Phenomenal #naturalwine from #OszkarMaurer @bluedanubewine and @isabellelegeron’s wild Hungarian co-op. #Kadarka (aka #Gamza) is an ancient black-skinned variety named for a lake between Montenegro 🇲🇪 and Albania 🇦🇱. This one tastes of rhubarb and fresh strawberry jam but without added sugar. It’s mouth-drying but not tannic. Beyond the fruit, a fuzzy texture and bright finish bookend playful, dancing acidity with layered aromas of pomegranate and bitter citrus pith. 12.5% alcohol. Love it with a little chill and let it carry you away to 137-yr-old vines just over the border in Serbia. #unfined #unfiltered #untamed #unbelievable #handharvested #lowsulphites #vegan The Kadarka 1880 is sourced from a vineyard planted in 1880. It’s the oldest known Kadarka vineyard in the world, located in Serbia, on the Hungarian border. The wine is completely natural with no added yeast, no added sulphur, fermented in open vat and aged in big old oak casks for 12 months. It’s an amazing wine, you can find it here. Follow what Jason is tasting on Instagram.
Here’s a contribution from furmintfan, Hungarian wine lover and blogger at A Borrajongók (Fans of Wine). He recently visited Gallay Pince located in the little known Bükk appellation: If there is a scarcely-known wine region in Hungary, then the Bükk region certainly is. Located in north-east Hungary between the Eger and Tokaj wine regions, Bükk has been an independent wine region since 1970. Before gaining its independent status, it was part of the Miskolc wine region. Wine production here has a long history that dates back to the 14th century. In the 19th century, wines from Miskolc had the same price tag as wines from Eger and by the 20th century, wines were marketed with the label of Eger. Today, there are very few bottled wines available for consumers from Bükk region, but there are a handful of quality producers whose products are now available in top restaurants, bistros and wine bars and have already shown the region’s potential. One of these producers is Gallay Pince. In 2012, Roland Borbély the winemaker, immediately embellished the winery and the region’s potential with his first release. The Gallay Zweigelt 2013 is sourced from the Lippa vineyard near the town of Miskolc: After … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #90: Gallay Zweigelt
WHO AM I? Connect the dots on the label to find out! The grape is called Zefir, a white grape variety created in 1951 from a crossing of Leanyka from Romania and Hárslevelü from Hungary. It’s a new creation from the Pfneisl sisters Birgit and Katrin, and like its label, it’s a playful wine! Low in alcohol (11.5%), pale straw in color, with a floral Muscat-like nose, the Pfneiszl Zefir is crisp, refreshing, with some herbal and spicy notes. Share it with some good friends on a hot summer night and as the Pfneisl sisters say, “A sip is worth a thousand words.”
Somló, a lone volcanic butte and Hungary’s smallest appellation, is a unique terroir of hardened lava, basalt, and ancient sea sediment. The Apátsági winery on the Somló hill was originally owned by the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey (Apátsági means Abbey in Hungarian). After being expropriated during Communism, it was brought back to life in 2001 by Zoltán Balogh, grandson of local winemakers, and four other people including the grandson of the last pre-war winemaker. Zoltán believes in “terroir wines”, natural wines with a distinctive sense of place. The vineyard is dry farmed without herbicides or pesticides. The grapes are hand picked very ripe and then spontaneously fermented in 600-2000 liter oak barrels. Thanks to their high acidity, the wines are rich, lively and well-balanced. His Hárslevelű just received a great review in Wine & Spirits Magazine: Zoltan Balogh has developed a style for ripe, full-bodied wines at Apatsagi. It works well in this hárslevelu, a wine that reminded some panelists of chenin blanc in its rich, broad texture and multifaceted flavor. Grown on basalt and vinified with ambient yeasts in 600-to-2,000-liter barrels, the wine feels like a late-harvest cuvée, rich and sweet in its notes of pineapple, pear and strawberry, but … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #88: Apátsági Hárslevelű
Like Zoltán Balogh of Apátsági winery, all producers under the Terra Hungarica flag adhere to sustainable farming without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and harvesting machinery, as well as natural winemaking, avoiding chaptalisation, the use of added yeasts, additives and manipulation techniques. Here is a video of Zoltán Balogh made by Terra Hungarica, explaining his winemaking philosophy:
Great review and 90 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine for the Kikelet Kassai Hárslevelű 2015: French-born Stéphanie Berecz has a soft spot for hárslevelű, with half of her 12 acres of vines given over to the aromatic variety. She makes this wine from a single, south-facing parcel of loess, fermenting it with ambient yeasts and aging it on the lees in French and Hungarian oak barrels for for to five months. That treatment has built a lot of texture into this 2015, a wrap of honeyed richness to temper the weft of tannins that give it grip. The flavors range from Bosc pear to orange oil and tangelo, with scents of lemongrass and lime leaf that give it lift. Pour it with something rich, like pork chops baked with peaches. 90 points Her 2015 Furmint had also a great review: Stéphanie Berecz packs her estate cuvée with extract, giving the wine a broad frame and an almost meaty feel. It’s ripe but not pushed, the juicy peach notes held in balance by a firm minerality. It feels supple despite its size, a generous partner for a thick fish steak doused in brown butter. 90 points Enjoy Stéphanie’s wines, they’re … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #87: Kikelet Kassai Hárslevelű