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Blaufränkisch - Chasselas

Blaufränkisch - Chasselas

Blaufränkisch is considered by many to be the most impressive Austrian red grape. A dark-berried variety which produces wines of real character, which are deeply fruity with fine acidity, good tannins and with typical flavours of liquorice and dark berries.

Chasselas is the typical white wine in Switzerland. If you've been for drinks on a terrace on lake Geneva, in Zurich or in a ski resort, chances are you were offered Chasselas.

The Blaufränkisch grape is grown throughout eastern Europe but many of the best Blaufränkish wines are from Austria where it makes a fruity and spicy red wine that is graceful, powerful, complex with a refreshing acidity. Blaufränkisch has Pinot Noir's versatility - it can be made as rosé, a light and fruity red, clean and well bodied or aged and oaked. Thanks to the acidity and tanins it ages exceptionally well.

In Germany Blaufränkish is typically called Lemberger and in Hungary it is called Kékfrankos.

Our Blaufränkisch wines mostly come from great producers in the Austrian Burgenland region which has an ideal climate for Blaufränkisch. Our reference Blaufränkisch would be Gunter & Regina Triebaumer but we offer a wide choice of styles and terroirs so you can explore Blaufränkisch in all its facets. For example, Kiss is dense and mineral, Heidi Schröck's will show fruit and crystalline purity while Alex Schreiner makes it in an almost Italian style. We can offer a small selection of cult Blaufränkisch on occasion. We also sometimes have Kékfrankos from Hungary.

Pick yours, or scroll down to learn more.

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The Best Hunnish Grape

The name Blaufränkisch comes from the Middle Ages & the late Holy Roman Empire. Back then it was fashionable to think that everything good came from the original emperor, Charlemagne, and everything lesser came from the local Germanic/Eastern stock. So everything was classified into "Frankisch" and "Hunnisch".

Blaufränkisch, being a much favoured grape, was declared "The Quintessential Frankisch Wine".

It was of course, an early example of marketing, as ironically, DNA analysis has proven it was very much a local hunnish grape.

PS: In Germanic traditions the grapes are named on what colour they look like when ripe, rather than the colour of the wine they make. Hence most of the red wine grapes are called "blue", as they look blueish in the vineyard. In French traditions, they use the same logic and call the red grapes "black" (if you wipe the blue grape clean, it is black underneath).

Lineage

It is not known precisely where Blaufränkisch originated, but through DNA profiling it can be narrowed down to Austria, Hungary or Dalmatia.

Blaufränkisch is a child of Gwäss and a parent of Zweigelt and Blauer Portugieser amongst others. It has a seriously good lineage (juiceline?).

Fendant

"Fendant" is the name used now in the Valais for Chasselas-based wines. It is derived from the French verb "fendre", meaning "to split", which is exactly what the golden Chasselas grape does if squeezed between thumb and forefinger, rather than becoming squashed.

A typical Fendant is fresh and fruity, with a refreshing prickle. It will normally be quite dry, with delicate fruit and racy mineral flavours, often with hints of smoke and gunflint on the nose and an exquisite bitterness on the finish.

The Chasselas grape used for Fendant is highly expressive of terroir and there are some quite notable differences between wines grown in different parts of the Valais. Wines from around Sion are fresh and rich, those from Ardon and Vétroz stimulatingly dry while those from Martigny have a fragrant bouquet. Perhaps the best come from the areas around Sierre, Chamoson and Saillon, which combine fruit and an exquisite bitterness on the finish. Good examples age well, and after 5 years or so will lose their youthful character and can develop complex nutty and honeyed flavours.

Ideally, drink a bottle of Fendant on the day you open it (not much of a hardship!). It will keep in the fridge for a day or two once opened, but will lose the slight C02 prickle, an integral part of the character of the wine.

History

Although the Chasselas’ history is a controversial subject, it is supposed to be one of the most ancient grape varieties cultivated by man. Theories place its origins in the Middle East, in Egypt and in France. However, with DNA testing being able to identify the lack of Chasselas in certain areas, it is generally accepted that it comes from Switzerland by the shores of Lake Geneva. Today, the Chasselas is the most widespread vine in Switzerland. Its basically neutral character allows its wines to express fully the differences in soil compositions and the diversity of climatic conditions. From there comes the enormous variety of Chasselas wines found in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, which constitutes its principal ground.

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