I’m not one of those wine geeks who has that one “epiphany wine” that changed everything and set me on my career path. I’ve got lots of epiphany wines, with this Blaufränkisch from Moric easily in my Top 10.
I absolutely flipped for this grape, and producer, back in my restaurant days, and so did everyone I ever poured it for; whereas a lot of unfamiliar grapes/wines end up on restaurant lists thanks to a pervasive “weird for weird’s sake” mentality, this wine may seem weird to some, but it’s also inarguably world-class and crafted from a truly ‘noble’ variety. Native to eastern Austria, as well as parts of Hungary and elsewhere in central/eastern Europe, Blaufränkisch shares some genetic lineage with Pinot Noir and some character traits with great Cru Beaujolais and Northern Rhône Syrah. What I’ve always appreciated in Moric’s Blaufränkisch is its seamless melding of bright, snappy fruit and profound mineral depth. There’s so much power and energy in this wine, and yet it is light on its feet and immensely refreshing—joyful and serious at the same time, and not to be missed because of that. Oh, and it’s also an incredible value (another driver of its popularity with sommeliers). I’m convinced you will flip for it, too.
As detailed in a nicely written post by blogger Alder Yarrow, Moric’s Roland Velich has become an internationally recognized wine celebrity for his work with old-vine Blaufränkisch in Austria’s Burgenland DAC. His assortment of reds, including several single-vineyard bottlings of the variety, are widely considered to be the Gold Standard in the zone. Sommeliers are all about benchmarks, and as I continue to explore not just Burgenland Blaufränkisch but the wider world of Germanic reds—I’m a big fan of the Sankt Laurent grape, too, as well as Lagrein and Schiava from the once-Austrian South Tyrol—I still measure new discoveries against what Velich produces from his 25 hectares of vines in the villages of Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg. His are reference-point wines, plain and simple.
The Burgenland appellation, running along Austria’s border with Hungary southeast of Vienna, has a diverse topography and a mix of soils, with more primary rock and slate at higher locations and dense loams in the rolling hills that extend toward the Pannonian plain (a warming influence that is important in getting the late-ripening Blaufränkisch fully mature). Moric’s organically farmed vineyards—Velich has farmed organically since he founded the brand but has not sought certifications—with significant (50-100 years) age, are situated primarily in the Mittelburgenland sub-region; Velich describes the soils as varied, with some limestone and slate mixed in with loam, with vine age for this entry-level bottling ranging from eight to 50 years.
This 2014 was fermented in a mix of open-topped wooden vats and stainless steel tanks, then aged in a mix of used cooperage of various sizes for about a year. Bottled without fining and filtration and with only a minimal sulfur addition, the wine is beautifully pure and soil-expressive, with terrific freshness. In the glass, it is characteristically dark—a deep ruby leaning to purple/black, and in this regard reminiscent of Northern Rhône Syrah. The nose, too, hints at the Northern Rhône with aromas of blackberry, pomegranate, grilled herbs, violets, and licorice, but also veers into Cru Beaujolais territory (iodine, crushed rocks) and a few other places besides. Because of its appearance, you’ll be expecting a ‘big’ wine, but while the fruit is dark, even black, it is presented with great freshness and lift; the wine is medium-bodied and focused, not especially tannic, and beautifully perfumed (sometimes these Germanic reds can be a little ‘short’ on the finish, but not here). I’d say it’s imperative to uncork a bottle or two soon, decanting about 30 minutes before service in Burgundy stems at 60-65 degrees. But I have no doubt that it will reward 5-7 years further aging in your cellar, continuing to blossom aromatically and shed its youthful twang. There’s an exotic spice component to the wine that will complement the attached Austrian-style goulash preparation. Regionally appropriate and delicious—just how I like it!
Mixed Used Barrels
Mixed Loam & Limestone