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 #24: Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein

Contributed by Matthew Gaughan: wine blogger and educator based in Napa, CA. See Matthew’s blog Matthew’s World of Wine & Drink. This is part two of a spotlight on Rosenhof eisweins. See the first post here. Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein 2012 Last week I wrote about an Eiswein made from Austria’s signature grape variety, Grüner Veltliner. Even more unusually, this week I focus on another of Austria’s quality varieties: Blaufränkisch, the landlocked country’s second-most planted black grape. Eiswein from a black grape is not unheard of – I’ve tasted Eisweins made from Malbec in Argentina and Cabernet Franc in Canada – but it is uncommon. Red wines produced from Blaufränkisch, called Lemberger in Germany and Washington, can come in a range of styles, from light and Pinot-esque to oaky, more concentrated, and Syrah-like. Whatever the style, the wine should be marked by high acidity, a bright colour, firm tannins, and red fruits. Like the Grüner Veltliner last week, I was curious to see how varietally specific the Eiswein would be. The Rosenhof winery is run by a father and son team, Vinzenz and Reinhard Haider, whose family have been making wine since 1947. Despite that history, the Haiders – as with many other … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #24: Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein

#WineWednesday Spotlight #23: Rosenhof Orion Eiswein

Contributed by Matthew Gaughan: wine blogger and educator based in Napa, CA. See Matthew’s blog Matthew’s World of Wine & Drink Rosenhof Orion Eiswein 2012 When I first started taking wine seriously – as opposed to merely drinking it – one of the styles of wine which most intrigued me was Eiswein (or Icewine in English, it being one of the simpler German wine terms to translate). The idea of allowing grapes to freeze and the labour involved in picking those frozen grapes in the middle of the night in inhospitable conditions made the wine one to approach with respect, and even a certain amount of reverence. The high prices charged for Eiswein – necessarily so, given the time and cost of producing it – added to the intrigue: to taste one was a luxury. Since then, I have learnt that a further challenge is to make an Eiswein that retains varietal characteristics rather than simply being a sweet wine packed full of sugar. As Eiswein is made from healthy, ripe grapes that are frozen on the vine to concentrate sugar levels, a rich, luscious sweetness can dominate. Riesling is an ideal grape to combat these challenges, due to its … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #23: Rosenhof Orion Eiswein

Plum Dumplings: An Austro-Hungarian Treat

Anne Krebiehl MW offers this traditional recipe in her latest article for Wine Enthusiast. Read the full piece here. Known as Lekvártascherl in Austria and Barátfüle in Hungary, these plum dumplings are a delicious example of Central European sweets. The best wine pairing would be either an Austrian eiswein or late harvest wine from Hungary. Here are a few we recommend: From the Rosenhof Winery in Austria, producer of some of the finest, incredibly balanced sweet wines- Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein 2012 Rosenhof Welschriesling TBA 2010 Two late harvest wines from Tokaj, Hungary; one is made by the Füleky winery and the other by Patricius. Both wines retain a beautiful amount of freshness and lively acidity that work in harmony with the residual sugar- Füleky Pallas Tokaji Late Harvest 2012 Patricius Katinka Late Harvest 2012 Plum Dumplings Recipe Recipe courtesy Michal Rabina, Eisenstädter Mehlspeiskuchl, Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt, Austria Ingredients 2 cups boiled, peeled potatoes 3/4 cup quark or fromage frais 3/4 cup unsalted butter 2 egg yolks (save the whites for another use, or discard as desired) 1 whole egg 1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon finely … Continue reading Plum Dumplings: An Austro-Hungarian Treat

Visit a Winery: Rosenhof in Illmitz, Austria

The Region Illmitz is located on the eastern shore of Lake Neusiedl. It is this proximity to the lake that make the area a famous wine region. The moisture and humidity result in consistent production of botrytis, or noble rot, which attacks the berries. The fungus removes all the water from the grapes, leaving behind pure concentrated sugars. This is the cornerstone for the most celebrated sweet wines. The Winery The Rosenhof estate is set amidst one of the most beautiful European sceneries where Reinhard Haider is able to balance extreme levels of sugar and acid without losing fruit in the process. The family business started here in 1947 with both a farm and vineyards. By 1969 the focus was almost exclusively on viticulture with the addition of a hotel and restaurant featuring authentic Pannonian cuisine. Pannonian flavors are a melding of Hungarian, Croatian, Czech, Slovakian and Austria influences creating one of Europe’s heartiest cuisines. The sweet wines they produce from Blaufränkisch, Chardonnay, Welschriesling, and Grüner Veltliner are particularly well known and praised internationally. If dry wines are your preference, Rosenhof also produces fine red and white dry wines. Things to do and see As aforementioned, there is a hotel … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Rosenhof in Illmitz, Austria