What the Heck is Blaufränkisch?

Sure, as you click around the pages here at My Wine Canada, you’ll see plenty of familiar grape varieties. Indeed (fantastic) Chardonnays, Rieslings and Pinot Noirs abound. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see the variety Blaufränkisch pop up. So, what exactly is it?

Well, I can go ahead and translate it for you, but sharing that it’s German for “blue Frankish” probably doesn’t help. It probably won’t clarify things any further when I mention that it’s also known as Lemberger or Franconia, dependent on where in the world you find yourself.

Even if we go back in time, I‘m talking way back, we only know that the grape is a crossing of Gouais Blanc, itself an ancestor to everything from Gamay to Riesling (let’s just say Gouais Blanc “got around”), and an unknown German heirloom variety.

The best way of extending the style of the variety is to provide a little context. It’s been referred to as the Pinot Noir of Eastern Europe, particularly Austria and Hungary, which should shed a little light on the grape’s style. The grapevines spring into action quite early in the season, yet the variety is a late ripener. Blaufränkisch generally exudes plenty of cherry fruit, and other dark, red characteristics, along with a good smattering of spice.

It’s the lighter side of a mid-weight red, but can still have a good little grip of tannin. Wild game, duck, and poultry would make worthy accompaniments at your table.

I just had the chance to try Mt. Boucherie’s 2010 Blaufränkisch, available right here on the website, and while I don’t have a lot of experience with the grape (even though there are a handful of BC and Washington State versions nearby), I took to it quickly and with enthusiasm.

Yup, those cherries are in full force, almost compote-like. There’s a good mark of Italian plum, intense raspberry and a handful of cloves. The tannins are woven in nicely and there’s the perfect amount of warmth on the finish to make it nice and comfy.

Sometimes straying from the well-worn path reaps a pretty tasty reward.

Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. He’s not half as fancy/boring as that sounds. He Tweets and Instagrams @KurtisKolt.

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