Hahndorf Hill Blaufrankisch
It’s always a treat to find a new wine that is unusual, quirky or different, but when its quality also surprises on the upside, it’s an absolute bonus!
And so it was when I recently visited one of my favourite local haunts, Harry’s on Buderim, for a Friday night catchup with a friend when I discovered a recent addition to their wine list, the Blueblood Blaufrankisch 2016 by Hahndorf Hill.
The cartes des vins at Harry’s has always included a few of the lesser known varietals and regions, but since two-hatted chef Stuart Bell took over a couple of years ago, the list has seemingly had to uptempo in order to keep pace with the flair of the contemporary cuisine that has been served up by the kitchen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Blaufrankisch varietal on a local restaurant’s wine list, nor for that matter, have I seen it in many local bottle shops.
Because it’s the second most popular red wine in the country, the Blaufrankisch grape is generally thought of as an Austrian style, but ampelographers think that it actually originated in what is now Slovenia where it has been grown since the 18th century.
It’s also commonly found in Germany where it is known as Lemberger (or Blauer Limberger) and has successfully been cultivated throughout much of Eastern Europe where it is given a localised name. In the New World, the grape has also done very well in some cooler parts of the USA, such as Washington Lakes and New York’s Finger Lakes district.
In Australia, Blaufrankisch was first planted (alongside Trollinger) in the Adelaide Hills by the Germanic founder of the Hahndorf Hill vineyards in the early 1990s.
Initially, their Blau was blended with Trollinger to make a dry rose, but after Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson bought the winery a decade later, they worked up the courage to make a single varietal Blaufrankisch, and haven’t looked back since!
Since their success with the style, other local winemakers have followed in Hahndorf Hill’s footsteps such that these days, the Adelaide Hills with its warm days and cool nights has become the Blaufrankisch epicenter of Australia.
The 2016 release of the Hahndorf Hill Blaufrankisch is a fruit forward style that is only of medium palate weight. If you like Gamay (also known as Beaujolais) then I suspect that you’ll like Blaufrankisch as, though weightier, there are similarities. It’s a reddish purple colour in the glass, just give it a swirl and you’ll capture aromas of cherries, spice, wood and even a lick of caramel. But as soon as the juice hits your tongue the plums and blueberries emerge and drive their way across the mid-palate before gentle tannins and a lively acidity harness the rampaging fruit through the nicely balanced conclusion. I really enjoyed the zippiness of the fruit that I suspect will develop well with time, making it more of a complex style in a few years’ time.
On my recent Harry’s excursion, I paired the Hahndorf Hill Blau with a Wagyu beef sirloin, sautéed mushrooms, leek puree and sauce charcuterie, but in hindsight, I don’t think I paired it as well as I could have. I reckon it’s a style that would make the perfect companion for the marinated lamb rump, poached quince, bunya nuts and Jerusalem artichoke puree…..oh, well; looks like I might just have to pay another visit!
Aside from visiting number 11 Harrys Lane, the Hahndorf Hill Blau can be bought online from the winery for $45 a bottle, though if you sign up for club membership, you’ll get it a little cheaper. Well worth the effort!