Hahndorf Hill explores the beauty of Blaufrankisch – By Jack Simmonds, Hahndorf Hill Brand Ambassador

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Hahndorf Hill Winery
  Adelaide Hills

We at Hahndorf Hill have never shied from publicly declaring that we love drinking other people’s wines. I have written previously of the regular critical tastings we do after hours at the cellar door, normally a flight or two selected to highlight or isolate a specific theme. We all very much enjoy the opportunity to study prime examples of varietals so close to our hearts.

Whilst we always make an effort to apply a veneer of legitimate “professional development”, our passion for these varietals means that these tastings do have a way of pulling us in. Before we know it we are mentally soaring over the Blaufrankisch powerhouse of Burgenland or the steep and winding lanes of Langenlois. By the time we land back in Hahndorf it will often be dark and each of us late for something.

Vineyards near Neckenmarkt

Our most recent tasting “journey” took us over the villages of Lutzmannsburg and Neckenmarkt in Austria, over the region of Württemberg in Germany, then a lap of our own estate here in the Adelaide Hills.

Weingut Moric the brand was born in 2001 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise to global recognition; its founder and chief winemaker Roland Velich applied the skills and perspective he gained studying marquee Pinot Noirs and Barolos to the mature vines of his native Burgenland to impressive effect.

Moric wines have received glowing reviews from some of the industry’s most qualified and respected wine writers such as Eric Asimov of the New York Times and Alder Yarrow, Jancis Robinson Purple Pages contributor. It is with humility and a quivering keyboard that I would like to add my voice to this chorus of praise.

The vintners of Burgenland will often speak of the magnificent sunshine that bathed their region in the autumn of 2016 in an effort to bury deep the trauma of several biting frosts early in the season.

The frosts came at the worst possible time and hit very hard; significant damage was done and many questions were asked about the very viability of the region’s crop. Eventually the sun arrived and lifted the spirits of vintners and schoolboys alike; off came the winter coats and the hard work began in earnest. The 2016 Moric Blaufrankisch is typical of the house; that is to say, it’s delicious.

The obsessive sorting ensured only the best fruit was allowed in and it shows; a parcel of 20% – 25% whole bunches contributes to the velvety tannins, moody spice and opaque ruby garnet colour. A perfume of jasmine, curry leaves, blackberry and clove spice announce the bottle has been opened, while the rhubarb, woody spice, tart plum and disciplined acid on the palate sent me straight to the fridge praying to any divinity that would listen that it would be magically stocked with venison, lamb meatballs swimming in a tomato sauce, or a mild crumbly blue cheese.

In a previous Gru Files article focused on Rosé, I wrote about Weingut Knauβ (pronounced Knauss), a German producer in the region of Württemberg. Andi Knauss took over the family business in 2004 and with the skills he picked up in Austria, poured himself into managing the health of his vineyards. Andi’s style is so old school it’s new school; minimal intervention in the winery and the generous use of whole bunch fermentation give his wines vim and energy all of their own.

Since taking over he has expanded the portfolio to nine varieties spanning globally familiar Francocentric varieties to the lesser known Eastern European classics. As a rule, vines don’t care where they come from; that prejudice is a uniquely human trait and as is so often the case the same variety can be known by several different names in different countries.

Blaufrankisch is a variety often written about in this blog and its homeland is more or less universally recognized as Austria, but as it enchanted and seduced neighbouring vintners it was often rebranded. In Germany Blaufrankisch goes by the name of Lemberger and, as with other international examples, it will always bear a resemblance to ancestral kin but will inevitably come to speak with the accent of its new home.

Confirmable details are hard to come by so I will rely on my own tasting notes and the impassioned rants we each went on during the tasting. To our mind this 2016 Knauβ “Pure” Lemberger was crafted to be enjoyed young and fresh; I would speculate that a generous percentage of whole bunch ferment has created the whimsical structure. Anise, blackberry, clove and cured meats all march across the palate in perfect time. Just like the rosé profiled in a previous article, this wine will polarize and not least along generational lines. Fans of our lighter, spice-forward red “Zsa Zsa” Zweigelt will find a friend here, as well as followers of the wines of the Basket Range region of the Adelaide Hills.

Char grilled lamb, roasted mushroom, strong cheese platters and charcuterie will all complement this wine beautifully.

The 2016 Hahndorf Hill “Blueblood” Blaufrankisch is the first vintage to go out in her sexy new label and she has been very well received. A warm and dry vintage saw bold fruit characters across most of the Adelaide Hills and we enjoyed our fair share of the sun. Local markets will always influence stylistic choices and as the Australian palate has traditionally trended towards a firmer oak influence, our Blaufrankisch shows more of the Vosges and Troncais notes of vanillin and tea spice than its European cousins.

Black plums, blueberries and ripe cherries form the front palate with woody spice such as clove and cinnamon making up the middle; the back palate is where I find most drinkers diverge. I have heard drinkers describe liquorice, tobacco, saddle leather and cherry musk and have found them all myself at one time or another, and that is the beauty of this variety. Like an office gossip, she will whisper slightly varying tales into each glass, making this a fun wine to track.

Be it Blaufrankish, Lemberger, Kekfrankos or Franconia, this black/blue beauty beguiles and bewitches. A dream match with most game meats, ripe cheeses, charcuterie, dark chocolate and innumerable other dishes. Time spent with this variety is time well spent.


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