Wine School: Your Next Lesson: Blaufränkisch From Austria
I don’t like to predict which wines will become the next big things because, really, who knows where the vast numbers of impressionable consumers will swerve to next?
But I can safely say it will not be blaufränkisch from Austria, our next subject in Wine School. And that is too bad because if more people understood how intrinsically wonderful these spicy, peppery, fruity reds can be, they’d be out buying their “Yes Way, Blaufränkisch” T-shirts this very minute.
Until that day, blaufränkisch will have to be our little secret, shared only by we wise few and the excellent producers who make the wines, largely in the Burgenland region of eastern Austria, south of Vienna and hard against the Hungarian border.
Great blaufränkisch is a relatively recent phenomenon. If you had tried the wine 15 years ago, it would have been completely different. Back then, many blaufränkisch producers were trying to get their wines to fit in among the fashionable reds of the time. They threw scads of new oak barrels at the wine, and tried pumping up its power. The results were stolid bores.
But other producers had a different vision. Taking their inspiration from the subtler wines of Burgundy, they aimed for seduction rather than brute force, and the results were telling.
The three wines I recommend are:
Moric Burgenland Blaufränkisch 2014 (Winemonger, San Anselmo, Calif.) $30
Anita & Hans Nittnaus Burgenland Blaufränkisch Kalk und Schiefer 2014 (Monika Caha Selections/Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York) $20
Wachter-Wiesler Eisenberg Blaufränkisch Bela-Joska 2013 (David Bowler Wine, New York) $23
If you cannot find these bottles, do not despair. Many other excellent producers are making blaufränkisch, including Prieler, Krutzler, Muhr-van der Niepoort, Paul Achs, Wallner, Meinklang, Judith Beck, Weninger, Umathum, among others. Don’t sweat these vintages, either. The 2013 and ’15 vintages will probably be better than the 2014, but these were the bottles I could find.
When imagining what to serve with these wines, I treat blaufränkisch as I would pinot noir. They are versatile wines, and would go well with pork, poultry, veal, more assertive fish like salmon and tuna, and a range of eastern European preparations. In the past my colleague Florence Fabricant has suggested both a braised pork dish and lamb prepared like a schnitzel.
Let me reiterate my usual suggestion: Give these reds a slight chill before serving. They will taste fresher and more alive. How slight is slight? About 20 minutes in the fridge.
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