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.

Fun Austrian Blend With a Unique Family Background

Today’s Story: Gut Oggau

Gut Oggau is an exciting, relatively new winery in the small town of Oggau in Burgenland, Austria and it was established in 2007 by Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe. Eduard comes from a winemaking background, having helped his father make conventional wines in Styria. Meanwhile Stephanie has a culinary background, with her family owning the Michelin-starred restaurant Taubenkobel. The couple purchased an abandoned 17th century winery and about 20 hectares (~49 acres) of vineyards, working tirelessly to restore and renovate the facilities which included a 200-year-old screw press. The vineyards were abandoned for about 20 years, so Eduard and Stephanie commenced their venture with biodynamic viticulture without having to worry about any lingering chemicals or treatments that may have been used before. Working with the varieties of Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), and Gewürztraminer, Eduard and Stephanie craft wines in a minimally invasive and “natural” manner. All wines ferment spontaneously with natural yeasts, age in used barrels, and are bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with zero or minimal added sulfur.

I would be remiss if I did not discuss the interesting labels on these wines. As Eduard and Stephanie crafted their wines adhering to their biodynamic and natural philosophies, they realized that each bottling and each vineyard plot offered differing characteristics and personalities but still had a common thread to show they are “family.” Therefore the Gut Oggau wines are all part of a family tree, with Atanasius, Theodora, and Winifred making up the “young generation” and being more bold and energetic in style. The prior generation, or “the parents,” consists of Joschuari, Wiltrude, Emmeram, Timotheus, and Josephine with these wines characterized by riper notes and more body. Lastly the “grandparents” consist of Mechthild and Bertholdi, with the wines produced from vines up to 60 years of age and they are more traditional in style. Each label has a unique sketch for each fictional family member, and all have their own unique stories to share.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Timotheus

70% Grüner Veltliner, 30% Weissburgunder; 12% ABV

The 2019 Timotheus is medium gold in color and somewhat hazy. Aromas are of medium intensity, showcasing notes of tangerine, peach, apricot, mandarin orange, white wildflower, and slate. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of peach, apricot, dried green herbs, seashell, honey, white pepper, and saline mineral. This is dry and medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very fun and different, but also very, very good. One-third of the grapes ferment on the skins for about three weeks and the rest are directly pressed before they’re blended. The wine ages for about 12 months in used barrels before it’s bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with zero added sulfur.

Price: $60. Wines of this style are difficult to discuss in terms of value for me, for one thing because they are not “traditional” and two I haven’t had enough of the “natural” wines with some skin contact for comparison sake yet. However, I find this to be an incredibly fun, enjoyable, high quality, and intriguing wine and for these reasons it was worth the price paid for me.

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.