Blaufränkisch With a True Sense of Place

Today’s Story: Weingut Moric

Weingut Moric (pronounced “Moritz”) is a highly regarded Austrian producer of Blaufränkisch, established in 2001 by winemaker Roland Velich. Roland is a staunch traditionalist, establishing Moric around the idea that very old vines, biodynamic viticulture, the climate of Burgenland, and minimally invasive winemaking methods could culminate into elegant and refined examples of Blaufränkisch at a time many of his neighbors sought the big, bold, powerful, and score-garnering wines of the times. Roland works most notably in Lutzmannsburg and Neckenmarkt (though his winery is in Grosshoflein), commanding exceptional yet difficult terroir for the variety to grow. Roland (and particularly the press) likens his drive to those crafting the finest Grand Cru Burgundies or the most legendary Barolos, offering a true-to-form Blaufränkisch with an immaculate depiction of its terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Blaufränkisch Reserve

100% Blaufränkisch; 13% ABV

The 2013 Blaufränkisch Reserve is opaque medium purple in color. This was fairly tight out of the bottle, so I decanted the wine for an hour before drinking. The nose is of medium intensity with aromas of brambly blackberry, black plum, black cherry, perfumed violet, licorice, leather, black pepper, crushed rock, charred wood, and allspice. Meanwhile the palate, also of medium intensity, showcases notes of black cherry, plum, blackberry, black raspberry, tobacco, dried green herbs, scorched earth, black pepper, dark chocolate, and smoke with iron on the finish. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium and unfortunately somewhat unripe tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) finish. This is much more complex than I was expecting, but the slightly unripe tannins do detract from the wine. It took them several hours to become less noticeable.

Price: $50. Admittedly, this is my first Blaufränkisch so I’m not entirely sure where it stacks up on a value perspective to other bottlings of the variety. That being said, this does seem to be a good representation of the variety from what I’ve read but the tannins on this do sadly drop it a notch. Perhaps I will try another vintage.

My Favorite Riesling Thus Far

Today’s Story: Bioweingut Johannes Zillinger

Bioweingut Johannes Zillinger is a roughly 350 year old winery located in Niederösterreich, Austria. Though Johannes took over the winery in 2013 from his father Hans, he started learning about winemaking at a very young age and grew an early appreciation for organic winemaking. Somewhat of a pioneer in Austrian winemaking, Hans turned organic in 1983 and this helped lay the foundation of Johannes’ view of the vineyards as a habitat that should not be “poisoned” with chemicals. In 2013, Johannes also turned to biodynamic farming which is much more strict than organic farming. For instance, all of his wines are spontaneously fermented, lightly filtered or unfiltered, and little or no sulfur is added only at bottling if needed.

Johannes Zillinger produces a broad range of natural wines, with annual production numbers coming in right around 100,000 bottles. With vineyards covering 18 hectares, Johannes makes everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Riesling to Zweigelt with several blends and NV bottlings in between.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Numen Riesling

100% Riesling; 13% ABV

This Riesling, like all of Johannes’ wines, is spontaneously fermented. Further, the Numen Riesling is unfined, unfiltered, and there are no added sulfites. Though many people seem to be unfamiliar with natural wines, anything from Johannes Zillinger seems to be a great place to start.

The Numen Riesling is medium to deep gold in color, which kind of surprised me as most that I’ve tried are lighter. The nose is incredibly aromatic with aromas of peach, golden pear, yellow apple, meyer lemon, white florals, white pepper, petrol, and cream. Overall the nose provides a very exotic, slightly spicy and complex experience. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of apricot, peach, lemon citrus, green apple, white spice, jasmine, and mineral. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity and a long, dry finish.

Price: $50. This is quite possibly my favorite Riesling to date and I highly recommend trying it. Pair this with Chinese or Thai food, roasted pork, or Cajun food.