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The grape variety Blaufränkisch is cultivated in many regions of Europe. But hardly anywhere else does it have such a strong significance as in Burgenland, the easternmost province of Austria. In all the growing areas of the region, the position of the variety is undisputed. Otherwise there are clear differences.

Lake Neusiedl and the Leitha Mountains

The north of the province of Burgenland is dominated by Lake Neusiedl. On its western shore lies the Leithaberg, a mountain range that shields the region from the cool and humid currents of the Alpine-Atlantic climate.

The winemaking couple Gernot and Heike Heinrich from Gols is representative of many who have migrated from the gentle slopes north of Lake Neusiedl towards the Leithaberg: "Starting in 2006, we leased vineyards there, and today two thirds of our vineyards are on the west side of the lake. We are very fond of the slate and limestone soils because they make a different style of wine possible. Especially the Blaufränkisch likes these soils."

Heinrich, who produces about 50 per cent Blaufränkisch in the biodynamic winery, sees it as the "most exciting red wine variety we have". He emphasises that excellent Blaufränkisch can also grow in the sites near Gols, as many of his colleagues prove. But he also loves the Leithaberg because of its microclimatic differences. "The sites face east or southeast, which means they don't get evening sun. That leads to different aromas. In the final phase of ripening, this is good for Blaufränkisch. The forest on the Leithagebirge does the rest, you feel a distinct cooling in the evening. And the diversity of the landscape is often compared to Burgundy in terms of topography."

Altenberg is almost a monopollage of the Heinrichs. Edelgraben in Breitenbrunn is dominated by slate and was planted in 2008. "On this stony soil I never have young plants growing too fast. So they show terroir character early on. We sometimes harvest only 1,500 kilos from the 6,000 vines per hectare. Each berry weighs only a few grams and has a thick skin. If you don't work gently, the later wine will contain too many tannins. It is important to give the wines time and not to drink them too early. That way you can get more complexity and enjoyment out of it."

Mittelburgenland and Rosalia

The Rosalien Mountains rise up to 750 metres above sea level along the Lower Austria-Burgenland border. The loess and brown earth soils combined with the Pannonian climate make Blaufränkisch the main variety here.

Mittelburgenland is also known as "Blaufränkischland". It is enclosed like an amphitheatre by three mountain ranges and is only open to the west. Nevertheless, the Pannonian climate influence dominates on the predominantly loamy soils. These store moisture well and protect the vines in hot summers. Best conditions for the grape variety, which predominates here with almost 55 percent.

From Deutschkreutz and Neckenmarkt, two of the important towns in the area, it is only a few kilometres as the crow flies to the southern shore of Lake Neusiedl. A particularly beautiful view of it is offered from the Neckenmarkt Hochberg, over which the border to Hungary runs. Deer often enjoy this view, as Georg Wieder from the Juliana Wieder vineyard explains: "In spring they eat the young shoots, in autumn the ripe grapes. Deer, wild boar and birds also like to roam there, so we have to net our vineyards."

Late frosts and increased hailstorms also pose a threat to viticulture. Dry phases are a problem especially for the vineyards on the Neckenmarkt Hochberg, where the mica schist, orthogneiss and shell limestone soils can hardly store any water. On the other hand, this diversity of soils allows for a wide spectrum of Blaufränkisch wines: delicate, finesse-rich, elegant, mineral or also powerful-spicy and salty. For Georg Wieder, an ideal Blaufränkisch from Neckenmarkt is "fruity-spicy, with minerality and structure; ripe tannins, fine acid structure and tannins should be in balance. It is important that the wine unfolds its presence and the wooden barrel only supports in the background".


The soils at the eponymous Eisenberg in southern Burgenland are indeed characterised by ferruginous loam and slate, which gives the wines a unique spiciness. The small-structured viticulture in Austria's smallest wine-growing region - with 500 hectares of vineyards even less than Vienna - and the location away from the major traffic routes and centres led to its marketing as a "wine idyll". Yet much has been done in recent years to arouse tourists' curiosity: Nice hotels and excellent restaurants attract more and more interested people. Blaufränkisch actually only plays the main role in the two neighbouring villages Eisenberg an der Pinka and Deutsch-Schützen, otherwise white varieties often still dominate.

Not least thanks to the efforts of Hermann Krutzler in the 1970s and 1980s, the area formerly known as Südburgenland became more and more associated with Blaufränkisch. His son Reinhold Krutzler is one of the protagonists on the Eisenberg. As in Mittelburgenland, hail, late frosts and drought are the biggest challenges for him on the Eisenberg. Blaufränkisch is his variety of choice: "Our soil characterises it: green and blue slate, iron-rich medium-heavy loam. The variety can handle this particularly well and produces elegant, fine wines with a certain spiciness. When working with wood, it must never mask the character of the grape variety, as was the case 20 years ago. At that time, the focus was on alcohol, colour and a powerful body. It's much more important for us today to focus on the grape variety and the unique soils here at Eisenberg."

More on the topic:

The best currently tasted Blaufränkisch from Burgenland