Viognier

     Summertime is upon us, and its warm temperatures suddenly make chilled white wines very appealing.  We’ve got a special one in mind this month, a grape that has made a comeback from virtual extinction in the 60’s.  We’re thinking of a wine that Oz Clarke describes as a ‘swooning wine.. wine that just oozes sex and sensuality.’ (No wonder we like it so much!)  We’re thinking about …Viognier.

     How do you pronounce that, you ask?  The title of an article we’ve read recently comes to mind, “Viognier, Difficult to Pronounce, Easy to Drink”.  It’s a French word and the g is silent, so the pronunciation is ‘vee-own YAY’.

     We can thank the French for bringing this grape back from the brink of disappearance to the place of growing recognition it receives today.  Growers in the Condrieu region of the northern Rhone valley gradually increased the acreage planted to Viognier from the world’s last 10 acres in the mid 60’s to over 700 acres today, with more plantings now springing up around the world.  Here at Bellview we have just under 2 acres of Viognier, and the wine from these grapes has consistently won awards since our first vintage in 2003.  Since the vines producing the best wines are over 20 years old, we anticipate the quality of our Viognier will continue to increase with time.

    According to our vineyard manager/head winemaker/winery owner Jim Quarella, the Viognier grape is very finicky, and it takes a master grower to produce a good crop.  The grape is prone to mildew, produces uneven, typically low yields, and needs to be fully ripe in order to develop the arresting aroma and complex tastes this wine is known for.  Harvest time is crucial, due to the narrow window of time when the aromatics and acids are at their peak.  Here in south Jersey, our sandy soils mimic the soil of the Condrieu region in France, where the Viogniers produced have exceptional, concentrated flavors. Our growing season and climatic factors are also quite similar.  We believe that the potential to produce Viogniers among the best in the world exists right here in the Outer Coastal Plain.

     If you had a chillled glass of Viognier in your hand right now, you would see it has a pretty, clear golden color.  Swirl your glass and bring it up to your nose – the aroma is intense, filling your nose with notes of peach, apricot and other tropical fruits at their freshest.  The fruity aroma may lead you to anticipate sweetness, but when you take a sip, you taste a cool dry wine with juicy flavors of peach, grapefruit and apricot.  Close your eyes and concentrate on the finish – a variety of nuances linger delightfully.  Such a beautiful wine, perfect for a warm summer evenings!

     Viognier wine is relatively low in acidity, which can make it a bit tricky to pair with food.  Also, the wine’s intense flavors may overpower very light dishes.  Try it with mild Thai curries, chowders, shellfish and pasta primavera.

  The majority of Viogniers are dry, but there are a few sweet, late harvest versions to enjoy with dessert.  These may be a bit hard to find at your local liquor store.  The management may be able to procure it for you or at least send you in the right direction if you ask.  

Some winemaking notes:  

      – It has been our experience that the flavor of Viognier will vary with different   crop yields.  Allowing a higher yield of grapes per vine will increase the grapefruit flavor; low yields lead to a pronounced apricot taste.  We aim to keep our crop load right in the middle, so as to gain the greatest complexity in the finished wine.    

      – Although low-acidity Viogniers do not require the heavy oaking of some Chardonnays to provide balance, some sensitive use of oak barrels can enhance the overall flavour.  We have an oaked version now available at the winery, from our 2011 vintage.  You can compare both oaked and unoaked Viognier side by side in our tasting room.

      – Like wine makers in the northern Rhone Valley, we also add a small amount of this wine to our Syrah, which adds fruitiness and helps stabilize the color of this red wine.

     If you’ve never tried Viognier, you are in for a treat.  Stop in here at Bellview, and we’ll be glad to pour some of our award-winning Viognier for your first taste.

     Even if you don’t swoon, we think you’ll be hooked!

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Sparkling Wines

This month we raise a toast to June brides everywhere. It’s the perfect time to focus on the sparkling wines that fill our glasses. There is a dizzying (pardon the pun) variety of sparkling wines, made of many different varieties of grape – golden, rose and even red wines are made into bubbly vintages. There are the Champagnes of France, the Proseccos and Spumantes of Italy and Cavas from Spain. They can be very dry or quite sweet, full-on foaming or barely fizzy “frizzante” wines. All in all, a diverse and delightful group of wines just right for celebrating.

Champagne, the first sparkling wine to be perfected, is no doubt the most well known of this category. Only wines produced in France’s Champagne region are legally labelled with that name. The evolution of Champagne in France is a fascinating story, basically one of making lemonade from lemons, as winemakers of the early 1800’s finessed their problematic fizzy wines into what would eventually become known as the wine of Kings. Other countries then began to create other versions of sparkling wine that have become very popular in their own right.

Sparkling wines are traditionally made using the method the French created, known as methode champenois, a complex process involving two fermentations, special bottle racks and a time consuming, labor intensive manipulation of reinforced bottles, making possible the removal of dead yeast cells without the loss of bubbles. The process begins by producing a still wine from grapes that give the necessary low alcohol and high acidity needed to create the desired crisp characteristic to the finished product. The secondary fermentation creates all the lovely bubbles. Today it’s possible to carbonate wine mechanically, a faster, less expensive way to introduce fizziness to still wines.

Sparkling wines should be served very cold, to preserve their crisp flavor and slow down the release of bubbles into the air. Champagne flutes (tall, narrow glasses) are the best for serving these wines, as they give less surface area for bubbles to escape, and also allow the enjoyment of watching the tiny bubbles rise in the glass. Glasses should not be topped off, rather they should be allowed to become almost empty before refilling, thereby keeping the wine in the glass as cold as possible for the best flavor.

The French also created a system of classifying these wines by their level of sweetness. Extra Brut wines are the very, very driest, with Doux being the very sweetest. In between, there is Demi-Sec (somewhat less sweet than Doux), Sec (lightly sweet), Extra Dry (off-dry) and Brut (very dry). Be sure to read the label to know what you are serving. Dry sparkling wines are best served as an apertif or with a meal; sweeter wines taste best with dessert and afterwards.

Here at Bellview, we make a sweet sparkling wine which tastes very similar to the well-known Asti Spumante. Both are made from moscato grapes; we use muscat Ottonel. We named our wine after Jim’s mother – we wanted to name one for her, and Lettizzia seemed perfect for a fizzy wine. Our Lettizzia is demi sec, with a lovely flavor, fine bubbles, and refreshing crispness, making it perfect with fruits and sweet cheeses and other desserts. It’s also wonderful for celebrations of all kinds, especially for saluting a June graduate or raising a toast to the newlyweds. Here’s to celebrating all life’s events, great and small – cheers!

Sangria

Hola, amigios! Warm sunny days and our upcoming Cinqo de Mayo celebration this weekend have us a bit obsessed with Sangria right now. So that’s this month’s subject, and a fun one it is! There are endless combinations you can dream up to create your own favorite Sangria, and we love being creative with our wines and coming up with variations that our customers will love. This weekend we’ll be introducing a strawberry lemonade Sangria – delicious! We’ll share some recipes at the end of this blog.

Sangria is a Spanish wine and fruit punch, originally made with rioja wine. Rioja’s dark red color wine inspired the name – “sangre” is Spanish for “blood”. These days, Sangria is made with all colors of wine, red, blush and white, or even a combination – white wine can be used to lighten up a heavier red, for instance. When starting with a dry wine, a sweetener is added, but this is not necessary when using a sweet wine as a base. Traditionally, chopped fruit and a little brandy are added, and a carbonated beverage is also an option. If you consider all the different wines available, different sweeteners (like sugar, honey, orange juice, agave syrup), the cornucopia of fruits to choose from and several carbonated beverages, like club soda, 7-Up, etc., you can see the possibilities are nearly endless, and present a wonderful opportunity for the creative mixologist!

The basic method of preparation is to first chill your wine until quite cold. Cut the fruit into small, thin slices or cubes. Mix the wine, brandy, sweetener (if any) and fruit in a serving container and allow to stand in the refrigerator, so that the fruit juices blend with the wine and the sweetener dissolves. Just before serving, stir well and add ice and carbonated beverage, if desired. Here at Bellview, we’ve detoured from the basic recipe a bit – we like to keep our Sangria relatively low in alcohol, so we don’t add any brandy or other alcoholic beverages. This allows us to enjoy more of our refreshing Sangria without getting tipsy, adding to the fun of any occasion.

In Latin countries, Sangria is typically served in the summer months, and is popular at bars, pubs and restaurants. It can be served in pitchers or carafes large enough to hold a bottle of wine, or from a punchbowl at a summer party. Depending on the recipe, it goes well at informal barbecues and picnics as well as fancier soirees and showers.

We’ve tried and served several different Sangrias over the years here in our tasting room and at winery events, and the most popular by far, is a Cranberry Sangria we make with our Fiesta wine. Fiesta is our cranberry grape wine, made from fresh cranberries and red wine grapes, including some native North American and European varieties. The Native American grapes contribute their typical Concord flavor, and the cranberries give a pleasing, zippy acidity. Made into sangria, with apples, oranges and lemon, it plays on the tongue with flavors of berries, grapes, red wine and citrus, sweet with just a hint of refreshing tartness, nice and cold on a hot summer day. Our patrons just love it, and we think you will, too if you haven’t yet tried it. You can make it at home just the way we do at the winery; it is really very simple. To a carafe or pitcher, add a chilled bottle of Fiesta and sliced fruit – ½ green apple, ½ red apple, one orange and ½ half lemon. (We wash the fruit first, of course, and leave the peel and rinds on when slicing.) That’s it! The wine is perfectly blended in the bottle so that nothing else is necessary. Let it chill for another 20 minutes or so for the fruit flavors to blend before serving. (We don’t recommend letting the Sangria sit for hours, as the citrus rinds will begin to add an objectionable bitterness. If you want to prepare a day ahead, then definitely remove the orange and lemon rinds before slicing). We don’t add ice, because we don’t want to dilute the flavors.

Our Fiesta is delicious as is, the blend of grapes we use with the cranberries makes a wine that is a favorite with our customers year round. We have to give credit where it is due, and tell you that we did not come up with the idea ourselves – it was brought to us by one of our customers, to whom we will be forever grateful, although we don’t know his name! One Friday afternoon a year or so after we first opened, a young man came into the tasting room, tasted several wines, and took home a few bottles of Homestead and our Cranberry wine. The next week he was back again for more, telling us that he had taken the wines to a party with his friends, and that they had tried combining the two with fantastic results. He urged Nancy to give it a try, so she mixed some in a glass then and there, and upon tasting it, had to agree that it was quite delicious. Well, that was the beginning of the idea that percolated for a bit, before being reborn as “Cranberry Sangria” during a long beach walk with hubby, Jim in Sea Isle City. (We can go on vacation, but even then we’re still thinking wine!) Long-time customers will remember the Cranberry Sangria label we started with, but the following year, the TTB told us we had to come up with a different name for the wine. We chose Fiesta because of Sangria’s Spanish background, and the fact that it was perfect for parties – can we stretch that to say it is a party in your mouth?

We promised recipes, and here they are:

First of all, a variation by our friends Dave and Elaine Crowell, they call it Portogria – just add some of our Port wine to our basic Cranberry Sangria recipe. Very tasty, and of course, this ups the alcohol content, which may be part of the appeal!

White Sangria

  • ½ bottle Jersey Devil White wine, chilled
  • ½ bottle of Lettizzia sparkling wine, chilled
  • strawberries, halved
  • 1 peach, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 10-12 green grapes, sliced lengthwise

Berry Sangria

  • ½ bottle Jersey Blues blueberry wine, chilled
  • ½ bottle Jersey Devil White wine
  • blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • small sprig of fresh rosemary

Greengria

  • 1 bottle Nana’s Wine, chilled
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • ½ green apple, quartered and sliced (peel on)
  • ¼ lime. sliced
  • 8-10 green grapes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 or 2 fresh mint leaves, optional

Pinotcello – First introduced at our Italian Festival

  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio, chilled
  • ¼ lemon, sliced
  • ½ orange, quartered and sliced
  • lemonade concentrate, thawed to taste
  • 1-2 fresh basil leaves

Pink Flamingo

  • 1 bottle Under The Arbor, chilled
  • 1 cup of watermelon slices
  • 1 orange, quartered and sliced

We hope you enjoy these recipes and have fun creating some of your own. If you find a concoction you particularly love, we hope you’ll share your recipe with us!

Dandelion Wine

Ah, April. To many, April is the real beginning of Spring, bringing with it green grass, cheerful flowers and unfortunately, weeds like the ubiquitous dandelion. But a weed is just a plant that’s not wanted, and there are plenty of good uses for dandelions – salads, herbal remedies, ravioli filling… The one that we like best is using them to make wine. Dandelion wine has been popular across Europe for centuries, and as Europeans settled the New World, they brought their recipes for the wine along with them. Our family’s recipe came to us from our Italian forbears, and goes back at least 80 years in the Quarella family here in the US. Great-aunt Ada, born in 1908, lived here on the farm from the age of 6, and for many decades, she made a batch every spring. The year we began cleaning out the farm building that was to become our winery, we found several old, old bottles of the delicious beverage in dusty gallon bottles in a dark room at the back of a shelf. They were still marked with a piece of masking tape stating the batch date in Aunt Ada’s handwriting. The wine from 1958 (the year of Jim’s birth), we saved to open in 2008 on Jim’s 50th birthday. And it was worth the wait! A beautiful amber color, the wine was sweet, slightly oxidized (like a sherry), and full of complex flavors of tropical fruit, herbs, citrus and honey. It was a delicious and memorable ending to a very special birthday meal.

Once Bellview Winery was up and running, our eldest son, Lee, suggested we bring this family tradition to our customers. Great idea! In the spring of 2004, Jim “interned” with Aunt Ada while she created her yearly batch of wine, following her through harvesting the flowers to bottling the finished product. Whenever he made a suggestion for changes that would make it more efficient to produce in large quantities, she would shake her finger at him and say, “No, you’re going to ruin it!”. So we’ve made very few changes to her original method.

Dandelion wine as we make it is a very sweet white wine, definitely best served with (or as) dessert. It is not something to drink a lot of, rather, just sip it slowly and savor the flavors. You’ll note a hint of lemon and something herbal, kind of piney or slightly minty – almost like eucalyptus. The wine begins as a clear light yellow color, which will darken over time to a gold and then a dark amber or caramel with many years in the bottle. Tasting best served well chilled, we like to pair it with a contrastingly tart dessert, like lemon meringue pie or a rhubarb tart.

Very few wineries make dandelion wine commercially. We could only find one other in the US when we researched it on the internet. Perhaps that’s because this is one of the few spots in the nation with a large Italian population who have fond recollections of the wine. Or maybe because it’s not convenient to produce. Harvesting the flowers is a labor intensive process. During the first few years of production, early spring days would find us in the field next to the winery, crawling on hands and knees to pick the flowers we left purposely unsprayed so they would grow more abundantly. (Hard to believe that we encouraged dandelions to grow?) We use only the flowers, no stems or leaves. It takes 50 flowers for one 375 ml bottle of wine. (We make about 1000 bottles of the wine per year, so that’s a lot of flowers!) It’s best to pick them mid-morning, right after they’ve opened. We look for fresh, bright yellow flowers, with none of the fluffy seeds yet developed. (These days we go to Petrongolo Farms to pick our dandelions, where they’re grown commercially). The flowers won’t keep, so the winemaking process must begin the same day. The flowers go into large stainless steel tanks and boiling water is poured over them. They’re allowed to steep overnight to make a sort of tea, which is then strained. We add sugar and yeast, along with some secret ingredients, and the “tea” is allowed to ferment. We then age, rack and filter as we do with other wines.

Some people would not consider dandelion wine to be a wine at all. “In the European Union“wine” is legally defined only as the fermented juice of grapes. However, “the term wine can sometimes include alcoholic beverages that are not grape-based. This can include wines produced from fruits like apples and elderberries , starches like rice , as well as flowers andweeds like dandelion ”. (Wikipedia) Whatever you call it, our Dandelion Wine is a well-balanced, quality beverage that we’re proud to offer for your enjoyment.

This month we’ll be celebrating our Spring Wine Release, when our new 2012 Dandelion Wine will become available. We also still have some bottles of the 2007, so you can taste them both and see the difference aging has made so far. We think you’ll like it. You may never look at dandelions in quite the same way again.

Petit Verdot

   It’s a spring day in 2009 at Bellview Winery, and we’re finally going to taste our first vintage from a grape grown in one of our test plots in the vineyard.  It’s a little-known grape here in the US, but in the spring of 2005 we had decided to take a chance and plant it. It seemed likely it would do well under the growing conditions of our area.  This is our first sampling of the finished wine.  As Dave pours, we note the wine’s beautiful inky, reddish purple color.  We raise our glasses and swirl a bit.  Sniffing, we discern an intriguing aroma of dark fruits, earth and spice.  Time to taste – oh, lovely, smooth and round on the palate, carrying rich flavors of ripe plums and dark berries, good tannic structure, with spicy background notes and a pleasant earthiness following through on the finish.  Well!  We were hooked! The wine was Petit Verdot, and it seemed as though our gamble had paid off.  Our customers certainly appreciated it as much as we did, as the 2007 trial production of about 60 cases disappeared rapidly from our shelves.

  We’ve since planted 400 more vines of the Petit Verdot grape, and we now

feature it as often as possible on our tasting room wine list.  As you’ll see, we can’t include it every year, but successive vintages have been equal in quality to the first, with interesting differences noticeable from year to year depending on the conditions of each growing season.  

   The Petit Verdot (petee vairdoh) grape has historically been grown in Bordeaux, and was used in small quantities in Bordeaux blends to add color, tannins, flavor and body.   It needs a long growing season, with a warm spring for proper flowering and a warm fall to ensure full ripening.  This means there were some years that French growers could not harvest their crop; due to immaturity, the grapes would have produced very poor quality wine.  (Petit Verdot is translated literally as ‘small green’, which reflects the typically small berries and the tendency to resist ripening.)  This has led to a loss of its popularity in France, but in warmer parts of the world growers are now seeing potential in the grape, and are planting more acres.  Perhaps the global warming trend will be favorable for this variety, it remains to be seen.   Petit Verdot is now grown in California, and used mostly for blending.  (They say Petit Verdot is usually used like you would use a spice in cooking, because a little goes a long way.)  Some wineries are producing it as a varietal, however.

     Generally, Petit Verdot wines will be an intense, deep reddish purple, and will be full bodied with moderate acidity and high tannins.  The high tannin content gives the wine potential to age for decades, and even blends including Petit Verdot will need time to age and soften.   Aromas will encompass earth, leather, smoke, spice, cigar box, vanilla, molasses and even tar.  The flavor profile includes smoke, spice, mineral and peppers, and often includes dense dark fruit, like blackberry, black cherry and black plum.

 

   

   This month marks the beginning of spring, but for now it’s still cold, and our menus still include hearty soups and stews, roasts and winter vegetables.  Perfect partners for this month’s featured wine.  Serve the imposing Petit Verdot with the heartiest and most robust red meats and aged cheeses.  Suggestions are Milanese style risotto, lentil soup with smoked ham hock, barbecue pork and caramelized onions, wild game and flavorful cheeses like Stilton.

  Here at Bellview, there have been two years so far that we decided not to produce Petit Verdot as a varietal wine.  They were growing seasons that were wet and cool, shortened by late cold snaps in the spring and/or early cold temperatures in the fall – 2009 and 2011.  So there will be no release of this wine in 2013 when the other 2011 reds become available.  Now’s the time to stock up on the excellent 2010 vintage, and to lay some down to age for future enjoyment.  We’ll be doing the same, and when we finally serve it, we’ll be thanking ourselves for taking the chance on this wonderful grape.

  

Cabernet Sauvignon

We chose Cabernet Sauvignon to talk about this month. With its bold, hearty flavors and high tannin content, it pairs perfectly with the heavier, warming dishes of deep winter. It’s also often recommended for pairing with chocolate, which would be nice around Valentine’s Day. Characteristic flavors of exemplary Cabernet Sauvignons are blackberries, creme de cassis, black cherries, boysenberry, blueberry and chocolate,and may be mingled with vanilla or chocolate and toast flavors from the oak barrels in which it is most often aged. Their color is dark red, with aromas of blackcurrants and cedar.

On the vine, the berries are small with thick skins, giving a greater skin to fruit ratio, which imparts more tannins to the finished wine. You will feel these especially at the sides of your palate as a dryness that pulls at the mouth. This is what allows these reds to pair so well with rich red meats. (The fat in the meat coats your mouth, toning down the wine’s acidity and accenting its delicious fruitiness. Your next bite of food will taste as fresh as the first, because the acids in the wine have actually cleansed your palate.) These puckery tannins allow Cabernet Sauvignon to age extremely well. As the wine ages, the tannins will mellow, and the wine will become smoother and more harmonious, picking up flavors of leather and tobacco, gaining the character and complexity that makes older reds so special. Try aging a bottle in a cool, dark place for five years or longer, then serve it with a nice steak or prime rib dinner to showcase all the virtues of this delicious dry red wine.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is probably the best known wine grape in the world. It rose to prominence in France, where it is one of the mainstays of the famous blended wines (made from a blend of different grapes) of the Bordeaux region. Here in southern New Jersey, our climate is actually very similar to that of Bordeaux. This makes our red wines similar in style to the Europeans, rather than the big, bold and very fruity wines of California. Our somewhat lighter, cleaner style makes the wine more food-friendly, that is, easier to pair with a greater variety of foods. Cabernets from the Outer Coastal Plain region here in South Jersey have the potential to retain all the wonderful flavor characteristics of the grape, without becoming overpowering.

These grapes thrive in a warmer climate, needing a lot of sun and ripening late. They are one of the last varieties we harvest in the fall. Our dry, sandy soils and low water table let the roots grow deep without pulling in too much moisture, allowing concentrated flavors to develop. We have 3 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in our vineyards, which produces on average about 10 tons of grape for us each year. This equates to approximately 7,500 bottlesof this deservedly popular dry red wine for your enjoyment!

This grape is quite versatile, producing wonderful varietal wines (made from mainly one grape variety), and also adding its structure and flavors to blends. Here at Bellview we blend it with other traditional varieties like Cabernet Franc and Merlot, as in our double gold medal-winning 2010 Lumiere. Our silver-medal winning 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon varietal is on the shelves now at the winery, and is a delicious example of what New Jersey can produce from this grape.

As a very special release, on Feb. 1st we will bring a limited quantity of our 2001 Cab Sauvignon out of our temperature controlled warehouse, where the bottles have been carefully stored and aged for nine years. This vintage is at its peak, to be enjoyed right now, and will be available for purchase in our tasting room only, as long as supplies last.

Blaufrankisch

We’re beginning with the wine grape Blaufrankisch. Kind of a mouthful, it’s pronounced “blaow-frahnk-ish”. Our tasting room customers are curious about this wine, because it’s one they’ve usually not heard of before. That’s because this grape has historically been basically unknown in most parts of the world, except in alpine regions of Austria and parts of Germany and Hungary. There, it is widely planted and recognized as a grape that can produce wines of merit. Today, there are significant plantings of the grape in Washington state, with smaller plantings in a few other areas of the country. Here, Blaufrankisch is a high-quality niche wine, and the grape has potential to become important for our region.

We chose to plant this lesser-known grape because its climate requirements seemed to be a very good match for our conditions here in South Jersey. In 2001 we planted 700 vines, and they do appear to like it here very much, producing steadily and dependably ever since. They yield about 3 – 4 tons per year, or about 2800 bottles. Along with bottling it as a varietal, we find it important as a blending wine. We add it as needed to “fill the gaps” in other wines, rounding out the flavors and adding color and structure. We don’t understand why more people don’t have Blaufrankisch in their vineyards.

Regular customers will know that for the first few years we called this wine Lemberger, which is another name the grape is known by in some areas of Germany. This is because when we first filed for label approval from the Federal government, the grape was so obscure that only the name Lemberger was approved for use at the time. Since then, the name Blaufrankisch, which is actually better recognized around the world, has been deemed acceptable, and we in turn changed the name on our labels as well.

The best Blaufrankisch wines will have good color and a deeply fruity aroma. Their flavor is densely fruity, with characteristic notes of blackberries, red cherries and red currants and also a bit of spicy pepper. A relatively high level of acidity and elegant tannin structure give them a great capacity for aging. These qualities are also what make the wine extremely useful for blending with other red wine grapes to make wines of more complex character.

We’ve found Blaufrankisch to be delightful with hamburgers, ham and lentil soup, pasta with tomato sauce, pork chops and more. Its structured tannins and good acidity allow it to pair nicely with meats and cheeses. Recommended cheeses include Gouda, Feta, Piave, Monterey Jack, Provolone and smoked cheeses. As a grape native to the Alpine regions of Austria, it pairs very well with the foods of the local cuisine, like bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, cheesey potato dishes, and goulash. It might make you want to yodel.

Perfect growing conditions for this grape would include a long, warm summer, as it buds early and ripens late. The wood is winter hardy, but late frosts in the spring will cause damage. This was the case for our vines this past spring. A frost in late April killed many of the tiny new flower buds on the vines, so the fall crop was very light, only about a quarter of the usual yield. Our 2012 Blaufrankisch varietal wine will be good, but unfortunately in short supply. Our vines seem to have recovered, and we hope for a more normal spring this year and a good crop in the fall.

Currently our medal-winning 2010 Blaufrankisch is available at the winery. It is a fine example of what the grape can become. We’re happy to do our small part to bring this wine into greater renown. We’ll be recommending it especially when we celebrate our Alpine Winter Weekend later this month, to pair with Viennese potato soup and Liptauer cheese.