Austrian reds rock. That is, when they don’t pick them too late and dick around with too much oak. And, these days, after a period of excess, generally they don’t. Which is great news for lovers of interesting wine.
Leithaberg DAC (here) is part of Burgenland in Austria. It was created in 2008 (for whites) and 2009 (for reds), and DAC status was awarded as recently as 2010. Here I tried four of the reds, which must be made from the wonderful Blaufränkisch grape variety. Overall, the area concerned covers 3600 hectares, with the boundary being the Leithaberg mountains on one side and Lake Neusiedl on the other. The soils are composed of Mica-schist and Leithakalk (a marine limestone) and the climate is moderated by the proximity to Lake Neusiedl. The reds have to be aged in barrel, but the aim is that the barrel influence doesn’t dominate the wine. It seems that there is something special about this terroir, so it’s good to see producers making it a big emphasis: a privileged place to grow wine grapes. Remarkably, the history of winegrowing here goes back 2700 years! 70 wineries have signed up to this DAC (although many produce non DAC Burgenland wines too).
Tinhof Blaufränkisch 2009 Leithaberg, Burgenland, Austria
13.5% alcohol. Fresh and pure with nice bright cherry and plum fruit. Elegant and quite Pinot-like with vivid fruit and subtle herb and leather notes. There’s a silkiness to this wine, with some sweetness to the fruit and good restraint. A lovely wine. 93/100 (£16.60 Savage Selection)
Prieler Blaufränksich 2012 Leithaberg, Burgenland, Austria
13% alcohol. Sweet, mineral black fruits nose is quite pure. Fine, fresh, elegant black cherry palate with fine-grained, slightly tarry, mineral structure. Really well balanced. 93/100 (£29.40 Clark Foyster)
Markus Altenburger Blaufränksich 2011 Leithaberg, Burgenland, Austria
13.5% alcohol. Initially, on opening, I was a bit alarmed by this wine, but it settled down nicely after a couple of hours. Ripe and rich with a sweetly aromatic nose of tar, spice, blackberries and cherries. The palate is taut and dense with rich black fruits and some savoury, spicy tarriness alongside the sweet fruit. Ambitious and in need of some time to come together. 91/100 (£28.90 Newcomer Wines)
Keiser Blaufränkisch 2012 Leithaberg, Burgenland
13.5% alcohol. Sweet and supple with raspberry and cherry fruit, some savoury spiciness and a tarry, herbal edge. Supple, sweet, rounded and drinkable with a berry fruits personality. Juicy. 89/100 (£21 Austrian Wine Company)
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