Blaufränkisch, an Austrian Red Just Waiting to Be Discovered

The panel tastes 20 bottles of Austrian blaufränkisch from the vintages 2010 through 2013. Six of the top 10 were $20 or under.

Comments: 31

  1. Finger Lakes wineries are also making a smattering of the Blau.

  2. Thank you! I enjoyed my chance to drink them in Austria a couple of years ago. They remind me of Oregon pinot noir in many ways, with their lanky spice and minerality. The would make a great North American hybrid with French grapes.

  3. Columbus Wines on 96th & Columbus has a nice selection of Austrian wines. The proprietor there introduced me t them about 10 years ago and I have always enjoyed them. The reds are also great with Thanksgiving dinner, FYI.

  4. I've enjoyed St. Laurent in the past also. Another overlooked red.

  5. I have enjoyed many of these wines in Vienna, but have found them virtually impossible to find in the US. It is rather difficult to talk about a wine that seems to rarely get imported. My Austrian colleagues suggest that Austrians would prefer that these wines just stay in the country to be enjoyed at home.

  6. "...some of the more expensive bottles seemed to be overly oaky, an indication that perhaps Austrian producers, who may not have a long tradition with new oak casks, are still calibrating the best way to use these powerful tools."

    Ironically, the barrels from the 300-year old Austrian cooperage, Stockinger, are increasingly sought-after, including here in Bordeaux where they are appreciated for their ability to preserve the wine's fresh fruit while affording slow and controlled oxidation. Many of Stockinger's barrels, crafted from Austrian and German oak, are oval in shape like the traditional "fass" but they also cooper barrels in the round Bordeaux model albeit, usually in larger sizes (300 liters and up).

    So the Austrian tradition of using oak barrels may be older than one might think!

  7. Blaufrankisch is catching on on the Finger Lakes area. So far, most examples are on the powerful side, but one winery, Ravines, plans to produce a Rose version.

  8. Dear Eric, the wines are not so well known outside Austria, because we drink it ourselves ;-)

  9. All you foodies out there, go to Austria and travel around. You will find the most amazing food and wines along with one of the most eco friendly and clean places on earth.

  10. Finally, some interesting wines reviewed which I can actually afford to buy. Please write more of the same.

  11. If you find yourself in LA, stop at Cassia restaurant in Santa Monica. We have a Moric blaufrankisch on our list. Not too expensive at $65 a bottle. Also a few other Austrian wines.

  12. Hungary makes Blaufränkisch wines as well, especially near the border town of Sopron, called Kékfrankos.

  13. Not a surprise, since Sopron used to part of Austria and it's just a hop, skip, and a jump from Wien and Burgenland.

  14. Actually, Sopron has always been Hungarian. Back before the First World War this entire region was in the Hungarian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the Trianon treaty at the end of WWI that established the present borders. The story is quite complicated.

    In the old Austro-Hungarian days, the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary was in what is now Bratislavia. The Sopron/ Burgenland wine region extended north into what is now Slovakia, and in those days it was noted mostly for white wines. That part of Slovakia has in recent years revived its wine industry, and the white wines from around Bratislava are wonderful.

    Kekfrankos (literally "Blue Frankish") is a major wine grape in Hungary, and Kekfrankos is very often superb, easily the match for anything Austria can boast. The Kekfrankos from Sopron has only recently overcome the legacy of the Communist days, but is now a top light version of the wine. Richer and deeper Kekfrankos comes from Eger, Villany, or Szekszard. It IS available in the United States.

    Washington State Lemberger can be quite as good.

  15. Agree completely with both Upstate Doctor and RWAlexander. Perhaps Mr. Asimov can devote a tasting to some of the blaufränkisch -- I mean kékfrankos -- from Hungary. There are other varietals common (though not always exclusive) to Hungary that are well worth searching out: furmint and juhfark, to name two white varietals. The former is a major component of Tokaji dessert wines, but is also produced as a dry table wine; the latter is produced from a very limited area around the volcanic Somlo hill, and makes for a wine of depth and minerality.

  16. In Palm Springs, Austrian Chef Johannes Bacher does an amazing job with his food at Johannes where he has a terrific line-up of Austrian wines, including many half bottles for the adventuresome.

  17. Yes!! The eponymous restaurant, Johannes, is probably my wife's and my favorite in all of southern California; and the blaufränkisch selections on their wine list have always been excellent.

  18. Had a Blaufrankisch a few weeks ago that was subpar, I was really hoping to like it! If I had, you betcha it would have been on my Instagram. Thank you for a list of tried-wines, I will look out for them!

  19. The only Blaufrankisch my local wine shop carries states "semi sweet red wine" on the label. I found this off putting as Mr. Asimov does not describe them as such. I instead went with a wine that is a Blaufrankisch/Sankt Laurent hybrid which had no such designation. Hopefully this will be similar to the wines described in the article.

  20. Jed Steele produces an incredibly delicious Blaufrankisch under his Shooting Star label. Subtle richness, ripe finish, elegant aromas, a delicious and complex wine for under $15 dollars. An undiscovered treasure. Would have beat many of your Austrian wines in the review!

  21. Echoing the comments about wonderful Blaufränkisch from the Finger Lakes in New York... The Blaufränkisch/Lemberger from Red Tail Ridge and Fox Run are both very well done and delicious (and wonderfully reflective of the region). Definitely staples in our home. The costs of both are very reasonable and well worth it. All hail the cool climate red.

  22. We discovered Blaufrankisch and Gruener Veltliner on our honeymoon in Austria in 1983. They remain our no-nonsense when we're having more than one or two drinking wines. The Austrians do food and wine and beer better than anyone.

  23. As always, an interesting, and possibly useful, article.

    As always, terms are most peculiar - how on earth can a word like "precise" be used to describe a wine's taste?

    I've written to the author in the past praising his knowledge, and poking sly fun at his often very peculiar wording when describing wine.

    The only writers who supersede his baroque style are Art Historians (I was an art history major at Penn decades ago, before medical school).

    In any event, I enjoy reading his pieces.

  24. really didn't care for the tone of this article -- wine lovers are usually open to trying different varietals, so it's up to restaurants and wine stores to carry Blaufrankish and recommend it to customers.

    I've had many delicious wines made from Blaufrankish, some as varietal wines and many more featuring it as a blending grape. It is sometimes referred to as Lemberger and I found it in Italy called Franconia.

  25. Beneduce Vineyards and Mount Salem Vineyards in Hunterdon County, NJ both make really good Blaufrankisch. The winemakers there believe their terroir has a lot in common with Austria and based on the quality of their wines, I'd agree.

  26. Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera cellars offers a NY State Lemberger for 19.99.

  27. Next thing you know, you'll be discovering Zweigelt.

  28. I generally enjoy these articles, and this one is fine until the end. As noted by other commenters, the Finger Lakes have a solid number of Lemberger/Blaufrankisch options. Aside from Cab Franc, it seems to be arguably the red wine best suited to our climate. In addition to the wines mentioned, I'd offer up Hermann Wiemer's Lemberger, Inspire Moore's Blaufrankisch "Change" as well as Damiani's Lemberger. They're all available for between $15-25 and are one more reason to get to know the region.

  29. I recently toured Central Europe and found the Austrian wines incredible and very food friendly. It is difficult to find these wines back in the States (I met one winemaker who told me only 15% of Austrian leaves their country). I did manage to locate a wine store in CA called WineMonger that imports both Moric and Umathum (my favorite Austrian winemaker). Happy drinking.

  30. Two interesting encounters I have had with Blaufrankisch domestically: I work at a small shop in Alexandria, VA and we carry a Washington State produced Lemberger called Shooting Star Blue Franc.

    Also, a vineyard in Purcelville, VA has planted and bottle blaufrankisch for about 5 or 6 vintages now and it is fantastic. It's called Otium cellars.

    unerexposed is right. but as other commenters have said lemberger grows quite well in the PNW as well as NY and VA.

  31. As this article and numerous comments make clear, BF is coming on strong in a range of places. Tasting versions from Channing Daughters Winery on the South Fork of Long Island and from Elements in the FLX (labelled Lemberger) convinced me these wines are earning a place at the table alongside the lovely and lively Austrian examples mentioned.