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What the Blaufränkisch?

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf on March 15, 2011

Also known as Lemberger in Germany, Franconia in Friuli and Gamé in Bulgaria, Blaufränkisch is a red grape whose homeland is eastern Austria.

But what's it taste like? Winemaker Roland Velich suggests thinking of it as a taste/body/character amalgamation of Burgundian Pinot, Northern Rhône Syrah and Nebbiolo from Piedmont. Humble little references, you know?

Take the spice of Côte Rôtie, the aromatics and tannic structure of Barolo and the intrigue and finesse of red Burgundy, and you've got the idea.

Once almost impossible to market due to its former obscurity, today Blaufränkisch is officially on the up-and-up in the wine world. The press is starting to buzz about these wines' potential, sommeliers are installing them on forward-thinking lists, and little projects like Jagini are exploring Blaufränkisch's diverse expressions in different vineyard sites.

The style is becoming more refined, too, as growers are "handling it more gently while aiming for grace and elegance rather than power," wrote New York Times' Eric Asmiov last year.

In these circumstances, Blaufränkisch reflects its soil and character with an uncanny transparency, showing off elegance and unique mineral-tones along with deeply vibrant fruit and spice that becomes more graceful, velvety and supple with age.

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