Höpler Austrian Blaufrankisch Tasting Notes
As a kid I loved the smell of my great-uncle Dick’s pipe tobacco. I’m not joking here, this is a true story. While he wasn’t looking, I’d sometimes pluck his pipe rack from the mantlepiece and inhale the woody, smokey smells coming from the pipe barrels. This, I believe, is one reason for my nostalgic fondness for red wines with tobacco notes. This Höpler Blaufränkisch very much fits into that category.
Blaufränkisch — pronunciation: Blau (rhymes with cow)-frenk-ish — is a red grape widely grown in central Europe: mostly in cooler regions such as Austria, Germany, Hungary and the Czech republic, but its range extends south as far as Italy and Croatia. Farther west, it happily thrives in parts of the USA and even Canada.
In the UK, it’s not a name that’s likely to spark recognition with your average punter. You certainly won’t find it in your local Tesco (although you might have more luck in Waitrose. Mine came from Great Western Wine). However, in Austria, where this Höpler Blaufränkisch was born, it’s the second most commonly cultivated red grape.
The family-owned Höpler (or Hoepler if you’re not good with umlauts) winery is in north-eastern Austria, near the borders with Hungary and Slovakia, and its range features 55% white wine, 40% red and 5% sweet.
Höpler Austrian Blaufränkisch Tasting Notes
As I mentioned earlier, this wine’s smokiness is its defining characteristic: bold berry aromas also attack you from the glass, reflecting its deep plum colour. Blackcurrant dominates, but there’s also some eucalyptus in the background, with a slice of strawberry on top. After a few minutes, it opens up to reveal that distinctive woody tobacco aroma.
On the palate, this is a real impact wine. It hits you in the mouth with a “POW!”, like one of those action bubbles from a fight scene in a Batman comic. As expected, it’s juicy dark fruit, with a touch that eucalyptus and a satisfying, but not overbearing, tannin lick.
This is a feisty and complex wine that took me by surprise. Definitely one to keep on your mantlepiece, I reckon they should bottle it as an e-liquid for vapers.
If you like this wine, you might also enjoy… Bolney Estate Dark Harvest.
4.5 NINJA STARS
Höpler Blaufränkisch 2013 (the website is displaying the 2014 vintage, but the one I tried was 2013): 13% vol. £12.95 from Great Western Wine