Weingut Gesellmann Blaufränkisch Creitzer 2003
Think Austrian wine and the usual image is a glass of white—Grüner Veltliner is the leader
and national wine icon—but reds are on the upswing. Particularly in Burgenland, south of
Vienna by the Hungarian border, the Blaufränkisch grape comes to signify reds of quality
and interest. The grape also flourishes just over the Hungarian line as Kékfrankos. The
Germans call it Lemberger, the Italians Franconia, the Czechs Frankova, the Slovenians
Modra Frankinja. A French origin (hence the “fran”) is suggested by some researchers,
though others claim the grape first saw the light of day in central Europe. Whatever its
pedigree, Blaufränkisch promises exceptional wine. Because of its winter hardiness, the grape
has of late been planted in both Washington State and New York State. You may see
American versions labeled Lemberger or “Blue Franc.”
Weingut Gesellmann has been in operation near the town of Deutschkreutz in Mittelburgenland since 1767. This wine's nickname “Creitzer” has been used for many years as both adjective and noun to refer to the town, its people, and of course its distinctive wines. The area represents the core of Austrian Blaufränkisch production.
A clear ruby with garnet edges, the $18 wine brings aromas of strawberry and blackberry, some musky soil, orange peel and fresh walnut. Though Blaufränkisch is sometimes likened to the French grape Gamay, the earth you distinguish here has a distinct central European cast to it, with a touch of floral sweetness.
As a 2003, the wine is ready to drink; the tannins have fulfilled their original contract with the fruit and acidity in this wine. The wine is nicely dry, with strawberry, blackberry and orange peel as on the nose, but with an addition of some rich black cherry jam and a touch of mocha. The finish has some mineral and covering earth with plenty of lasting and tasty fruit.
Many have likened Blaufränkisch to some of the more prominent Beaujolais Crus like
Morgon and Moulin-á-Vent. I am a big fan of both these wines, and I agree to an extent. The
mouthfeel is similar, the fruit is not dissimilar, yet the effect of the distinctive Burgenland
earth is unmistakable. The wine also has an aromatic profile that is entirely distinct; the usual
fruit and fragrance notes hardly do it justice; you simply must taste it.
Verdict: Track this wine down
With hundreds of grape varieties out there, it would be a shame to limit tasting to the usual suspects.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman