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Blaufränkisch or Lemberger?

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So which is it? Ah, who cares? Just try it.

Written by Laura Winter Falk, photo by Jason Koski

“A wine of many other names will always taste as sweet.” This might have been the well-known Shakespeare quote if he had had a glass of this red wine while writing his famous play. Its official name, Blaufränkisch, is how it is referred to in Austria, but it is also known as Lemberger throughout Germany, Kékfrankos in Hungary and by a number of other names throughout its Eastern European homeland.

Here in the Finger Lakes, it can be found under both the Blaufränkisch and Lemberger monikers. While winemakers may debate which is the best name for the label, all agree that the grape is a perfect fit for the region. The grape is much more winter-resistant and less prone to rot due to its thick skin, which makes it easier to grow than other red Vinifera varietals. It is also a grape capable of producing a number of different styles and expressions. Its high acidity, medium tannins, broad spectrum of pronounced red-black fruit flavors and aromas, and inherent spiciness make it a versatile winemaking grape.

In the Finger Lakes, you can find Blaufränkisch and Lemberger as crisp, acid-driven rosés; as lighter-styled dry reds akin to a Pinot Noir; as more robust, concentrated and spicy styles similar to Syrah; and even as complex and concentrated port-style wine—all of which are capable of pairing with an array of savory foods.

Suggested Wines

Dry Rosé:

Atwater Vineyards
Dry Rosé of Blaufränkisch 2018: $18

Dr. Konstantin Frank
Dry Rosé of Blaufränkisch 2018: $14.99

Terrassen
Blaufränkisch Rosé 2018: $18

Lighter-Styled Dry Red:

Hector Wine Company
Lemberger 2018: $26

Hosmer Winery
Lemberger 2017: $20

Goose Watch Winery
Lemberger 2016: $18.99

Red Tail Ridge Winery
Blaufränkisch, Martini Family Vineyard 2017 $22.95

Weis Vineyards
Blaufränkisch 2017: $24.99

Weightier-Styled Dry Red:

Atwater Vineyards
Blaufränkisch 2016: $24

Damiani Wine Cellars
Lemberger 2018: $21.99

Fox Run Vineyards
Lemberger 2017: $2

Dr. Konstantin Frank
Blaufränkisch 2017: $21.99

Lakewood Vineyards
Lemberger 2017: $18

Miles Wine Cellars
Lemberger 2014: $19.95

Port-Style:

Barnstormer
Nosedive 2018 (Blaufrankisch): $25

Miles Wine Cellars
Treasure (Lemberger): $22.95

Many of these wines are available at your local wine shop but several are available only at the wineries and on their websites. Check ahead before you start shopping.

Laura Winter Falk owns Experience! The Finger Lakes, a touring and events company. She holds a PhD in food and nutrition, is a Certified Sommelier, and an adjunct professor of wine at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Jason Koski lives in Trumansburg and works up a voracious appetite by biking to various photo assignments in search of good food and tasty visuals.

This article originally appeared in the January-February 2020 Issue of the magazine.

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