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June 22, 2009

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Evan: Great video, as always.

I asked Christopher Tracy, who makes Long Island's only Blaufrankisch, his thoughts on calling it Lemberger vs. Blaufrankisch and also about using other varieties to complement Blau's own characteristics. Here's what he told me:

"Blaufrankisch is the original name. It goes back to Charlemagne classifying the grape in the 700’s AD as the blue (blau) superior (Frankish).

All the other names are more modern. Lemberger comes from the 19th century (I Think) when the grape was exported from the town of Lemberg in Austria to Germany.

Blaufrankisch is the original…not to mention much cooler. There are over fifty known names for this variety.

We almost always blend in 5% to 25% Merlot. This is to lower the acidity of the Blaufrankisch naturally as well as to add fruit (aromatic and flavor) and textural complexity."

I would have to heartily disagree that Blaufrankisch on it's own is not structurally sound and needs to be blended, as well as the assessment that it is a varietal that makes a light red. This is a grape that makes full-bodied, complex, layered wines that are loaded with black skinned berry notes, smoke and spice- particularly in the hands of the Austrians, who have been making wine with this grape for centuries. David Schildknecht, the Austrian wine reviewer for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, gave the Moric Alte Reben Neckenmarkt Blaufrankisch 2006 95 points and noted it's "concentrated black fruits...smoky suggestions of machine oil and Szechuan pepper...deep, low-toned, multi-dimensional, rolling finish"

Emily: Was wondering if you'd see this and chime in...thanks.

I think that the people interviewed here (and those in the region in general) are saying that it tends to be lighter in style in their own region, not saying that it's that way around the world. If they were growing it in Napa, it probably wouldn't be light.

As to the need for blending, maybe in New York it does?

Lenn et al,

Ok, so here in the Finger Lakes Lemberger makes rather full bodied, if often high acid, dark red wines. With regard to palate structure, I've found that it has a lot of mid palate strength, but flavors end very abruptly. A bit of American oak can add length, but a more successful approach is to blend in a fairly large amount (10-25%) of Cabernet franc. CF has all that sweet length as well as some nice floral perfume in most years.

I tasted a few dozen Lembergers in Hungary some years ago, and found that most of them showed the very same way. It's called Kekfrankos there, and is a major component of Bull's Blood, that stuff that some of us used to buy for $5 a liter. The non-export ones were delicious and complex.

Taking a cue from Johannes at Anthony Road, we released a Lemberger/Cab Franc blend, which is perhaps a little tamer than the straight Lemberger, but which sells way better.

Lemberger makes great Port-style wine -- the added alcohol seems to magnify the blackberry jam aromas.

I like Blaufrankish, it sounds better ... makes me think of a German lady painted blue ... alien Germans ...

lol all those peeps sounded mad canadian hehehe...

... in general I feel like blends are better than varietal wines, but im not really prepaired to back that up ...

Try Kiona Lemberger and Blue Franc out of WA state . They are pretty Darn good .

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