The Rise of Blaufränkisch

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

#WineWednesday Spotlight #92: J&J Eger Winery Eged Hegy Kékfrankos

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.

Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…

Franci Cvetko serving his full line-up at Kogl winery. Formally suited we hit the ground running on our latest work trip to Central Europe. We spent 12 days split between Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. The night of our arrival was the kick-off Gala Dinner for the Zagreb Wine Gourmet Festival held in the capital’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Hosting over 140 wineries it is the largest tasting of Croatia’s wines all year. Attendees ranged from top politicians like President Ivo Josipovic to France’s father of biodynamic farming Nicolas Joly. The fair itself was a frenzy of trade and consumers out of their minds to taste everything Croatian. We went in with high expectations but still the number of excellent wines was shocking. There is a growing self awareness among producers that indigenous grape varieties made in local styles are Croatia’s great strength. This coupled with the rapid increases in quality is yielding the most transparent views of Croatia’s complex terroir yet seen. To watch this unfold is inexplicable. Despite the crowd, between tastings we were able to finalize most of our spring shipment. Both days we tasted until the lights flashed and our mouths hurt. After the tasting we managed … Continue reading Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…