The grape is grown across Central Europe, including Austria, Czech Republic (in particular the Moravia region), Germany (where it is known as Lemberger, or Blauer Limberger), Slovakia (where it is known as "Frankovka modrá"), Croatia ("frankovka") and Slovenia (known as "modra frankinja"). In Hungary the grape is called Kékfrankos (also lit. blue Frankish) and is grown in a number of wine regions including Sopron, Villány, Szekszárd, and Eger (where it is a major ingredient in the famous red wine blend known as Egri Bikavér (lit. Bull's Blood) having largely replaced the Kadarka grape). It has been called "the Pinot Noir of the East" because of its spread and reputation in Eastern Europe.
DNA profiling has shown that Blaufränkisch is a cross between Gouais blanc (Weißer Heunisch) and an unidentified Frankish variety. One of the candidates for the Frankish parent is Blauer Silvaner. For a long time before the application of DNA analysis, Blaufränkisch was erroneously thought to be a clone of the Gamay grape variety, due to certain similarities in morphology and possibly due to its name Gamé in Bulgaria.
The German name Lemberger derives from the fact that it was imported to Germany in the 19th century from Lemberg in Lower Styra in present-day Slovenia and then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A 1877 export of Lembergerreben to Germany has been recorded. The almost identical name Limberger refers to Limburg at Maissau in Lower Austria, where in late 19th century "ungrafted Limberg Blaufränkisch vines" (wurzelechte Limberger Blaufränkisch-Reben) were offered for sale.
Washington State is one of the few major wine regions to have significant plantings of Lemberger. Grapes of this Washington wine mostly grow in Yakima Valley, but also at the Olympic Peninsula.
Blaufraunkisch in Austria
It is possible that Blaufaunkisch or a similar forerunner of the grape was cultivated in regions of present Austria (Lower Austria and Burgenland) already in the 10th century. In his 1777 publication Beschreibung der in der Wiener Gegend gemeinen Weintrauben-Arten, ampelographer Sebastian Helbling counted the variety as one of the best red grape varieties of Lower Austria, and used the name Schwarze Frankische for it. In present-day Austria Blaufraunkisch is the second most important red grape variety, and covers 5% of the vineyards. It is particularly common in Mittelburgenland, which is sometimes given the nickname "Blaufraunkischland".
Blaufraunkisch wines have aromas of dark ripe cherries and dark berries, are spicy, have medium tannin levels and sometimes very good acidity. Young wines are deeply fruity and become more velvety, supple and complex with age.
- Wein-Plus Wein-Glossar: Blaufraunkisch, accessed on April 23, 2008
- Vitis International Variety Catalogue: Blaufraenkisch, accessed on April 23, 2008
- Wines from Austria, Press Release April 2006: "Blaufraunkisch“ So Magnificent"
- Wein-Plus Wein-Glossar: BlaufrÃ¤nkischland, accessed on April 23, 2008
- Wines from Austria: BlaufrÃ¤nkisch, accessed on April 23, 2008
See also: Austria’s Indigenous Reds: Blaufrankisch, St Laurent, Zweigelt
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