Honest Blaufränkisch That Doesn’t Break the Bank

Today’s Story: Rosi Schuster

Rosi Schuster is a family owned and operated wine estate located in the town of St. Margarethen in the Austrian state of Burgenland. Established in 1979 by Rosi Schuster, the estate consists of nine hectares (22 acres) of vineyards planted in St. Margarethen and Zagersdorf with some of the finest and oldest vines for the area. Though Rosi Schuster is known for Blaufränkisch, she also produces Sankt Laurent, Zweigelt, and Grüner Veltliner amongst a selection of other obscure varieties. Rosi was joined in 2005 by her son Hannes, and though he runs the estate today Rosi is still involved as both a guide and sounding board throughout production. Stylistically, Hannes was greatly influenced by Roland Velich of Moric and he transitioned Rosi Schuster to organic viticulture to start. The wines are meant to be classic representations of Burgenland and its terroir, and are fermented in open-top wooden or stainless steel tanks with both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations accomplished naturally and spontaneously. Hannes works exclusively with Stockinger barrels which don’t impart much oak influence into the wines, ensuring each bottling is the best and most honest representation of variety and place possible.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Blaufränkisch

100% Blaufränkisch; 13% ABV

The 2017 Blaufränkish is deep ruby in color with purple hues. I decanted this for about 45 minutes which seemed to be the right amount at this stage. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, black cherry, violet, sweet tobacco, and allspice. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of black cherry, brambly blackberry, blueberry, licorice, black pepper, smoke, and mild baking spice. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish.

Price: $20. Though the intensity and finish length could be better, I still think this offers solid value at its price-point and the balance is already very impressive. Given the acidity and how this opened up, I think this needs another year or two before it really starts coming into its own.

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.