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For our upcoming October wine issue, I helped taste through a series of Austrian wines that go way beyond the trendy and ubiquitous Grüner Veltliner. While Austria produces many more white wines than reds, the reds often come in my style: light-to-medium-bodied and juicy with plenty of mouth-watering acidity. During the tasting, I found a new favorite grape—and I don’t just love it because it’s fun to say.
Blaufränkisch (called Lemberger in Germany) is a hardy grape variety that grows all over central Europe. Apparently, like Gamay, the grape used to make Beaujolais (one of my favorite wines), Blaufränkisch can be horribly mistreated to yield total plonk or, when taken seriously, it can be complex and ageworthy (much like rearing children, it seems). Biodynamic estate Weingut Michlits (imported by Prescott Wines) must do the latter. Their version—intensely peppery with lots of cranberry fruit—pairs beautifully with food. An hour or two after opening a bottle, the wine becomes smoky and meaty—which not everyone might like—but it still provides a more interesting drinking experience than most $20 bottles.