Austria is changing into identified for its purple grapes, regardless of its repute as a white wine nation.
There was a pattern of cultivating worldwide purple grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon within the Nineties. However, these purple grapes paled as compared to Austria’s white choices.
But, thanks to trailblazers Roland Velich of Weingut Moric together with Uwe Schiefer and Hans Nittnaus of their eponymous estates, within the final 20 years plantings of purple grapes have doubled—particularly indigenous varieties.
Here’s a have a look at the purple varieties, each worldwide and indigenous, that are pushing Austria’s purple wine scene ahead.
Blaufränkisch, or Blau as locals name it (blau rhymes with now), was the noble grape of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918). Its suffix indicators its pedigree, as, on the time, collectively, noble grapes have been referred to as “Fränkisch.”
Burgenland is house to the early-budding and late-ripening grape. The area options three appellations, or Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC), solely devoted to the grape. These are: Eisenberg, with schist and slate soils; Leithaberg, that includes limestone; and Mittelburgenland, the place Blau grows in heavy loam.
Blaufränkisch in Leithaberg
Apart from Nittnaus, one other notable veteran Blaufränkisch grower is Gernot Heinrich, who, with spouse Heike, runs one of many largest privately-owned wineries in Austria, Weingut Heinrich.
Within the final 5 years, Heinrich has transformed his whole manufacturing to pure, or low intervention winemaking.
Another noteworthy vineyard is Lichtenberger-Gonzalez, run by Martin Lichtenberger and Adriana Gonzalez.
Their wines impress with delicate, swish and floral expressions. They produce two high-class wines from the grape in Leithaberg. One bears the appellation identify whereas the opposite is named Vorderberg and comes from a collection of their oldest vines—60 years on common.
Blaufränkisch in Eisenberg
Christoph Wachter, who runs Wachter-Wiesler, brilliantly transforms Eisenberg’s cooler microclimate and poor inexperienced schist soil, into delicate, swish Blaufränkisch, which is commonly decrease in alcohol.
These wines unfurl superbly with short-term cellaring.
Blaufränkisch in Mittelburgenland
In Mittelburgenland, Franz Weninger is doing wonders with Blaufränkisch on his eponymous property. Weninger champions biodynamic farming and pure winemaking and Blau is the crowning of Weninger’s portfolio.
Weninger’s variations are vibrant and mix energy and poise with nice mouthfeels of dazzling textures. “You have to embrace the acidity as the vehicle and be gentle on the tannins,” explains Weninger.
Other notable Blaufränkisch producers from Burgenland embody Rosi Schuster, Claus Preisinger, Judith Beck, Kolfok, Christian Tschida and Gut Oggau.
Blaufränkisch Outside Burgenland
In Carnuntum, southeast of Vienna in direction of the Slovakian border, Weingut Dorli Muhr has emerged because the classical Blaufränkisch specialist, working organically, and crafting elegant wines. Her Blaufränkisch grows on the Spitzerberg mountain, which has poor limestone soils and an excessive mixture of wind and dryness.
“In such conditions, the berries are much smaller than in Burgenland, and [the] yield is low,” explains Muhr. This mixture creates wines which can be aromatically expressive but filigreed and swish, which is typical for this terroir.
In Styria, Blau could be very uncommon. However, in Styria’s Sausal, a lone ranger, Karl Schnabel, devotes his work to crafting exemplary purple wines. His Blaufränkisch is idiosyncratic and completely different from another variations from the nation. This is thanks to the terroir of the Sausal mountain vary—which is geologically older than the Alps—as its soils are nearly totally pure schist.
Sankt Laurent wines provide a singular profile, combining silkiness with purple to darkish fruit and infrequently gamey notes. Indigenous to Austria, it primarily grows in Thermenregion and Burgenland. It’s not a simple grape to domesticate because it’s delicate to fungal illnesses due to its skinny pores and skin. It wants to be planted in vineyards with good airflow.
Also, it may be tough in richer soils because it requires numerous work within the winery with each cover administration and timing of the harvest.
Sankt Laurent will also be finicky within the cellar.
“Longer maceration extracts gamey flavors of the grape,” says Hannes Schuster, winemaker and proprietor of Weingut Rosi Schuster in Burgenland. Schuster leaves Sankt Laurent on the skins for lower than every week because of this.
This purple was his first challenge earlier than taking up the household property. “At that time, my parents focused on international varieties and allowed me to play with Sankt Laurent.”
Today, he produces probably the most elegant and complex expressions of this grape.
Another notable producer is Michael Reinisch, of Johanneshof Reinisch within the Thermenregion. His type is barely heavier than Schuster’s however nonetheless balanced and sophisticated.
Zweigelt is Austria’s workhorse grape. In 1922, Professor Fritz Zweigelt bred it by crossing Blaufränkisch with Sankt Laurent, and gave it its alias identify, Rotburger. It is way simpler to develop than both of its mother and father. Hence, it’s the most generally planted purple selection all through Austria.
It is the first grape of the Neusiedlersee DAC in Burgenland and Rubin Carnuntum. However, in Carnuntum, winemakers goal to produce high quality fantastic wines from Zweigelt.
“Zweigelt is our signature grape and with careful vineyard work and yield management, it can be very complex,” explains Christina Artner Netzl of Weingut Netzl in Carnuntum. Her single-vineyard Zweigelt wines, Bärnreiser and Haidacker are a testomony to her phrases. Christina additionally makes a extra quaffable type of the grape underneath her non-public Christina label, which is supposed to goal the pure wine motion.
Natural wine stars from Styria, Franz Strohmeier and Sepp Muster additionally produce Zweigelt, which is lighter in type and better in acidity.
Additionally, price noting are Strohmeier’s reds created from Blauer Wildbacher, a local selection to Weststeiermark. It’s usually used for producing a regional rosé known as Schilher.
International Red Varieties
As for worldwide varieties, the Merlot mix from Nittnaus, Comondor, is among the most well-known and is ideal for Bordeaux lovers.
For Austrian Pinot Noir, regionally often known as Blauburgunder, search for picks from Claus Preisinger.
Finally, fungal-resistant (PiWi) grapes are additionally gaining reputation due to local weather change. Turn to Gut Oggau for his or her purple blends, which frequently embody a PiWi known as Roesler.
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