Austria's Hidden Red Gem: Fresh & Beautiful Blaufränkisch from Nittnaus
Martin Nittnaus is so deeply entrenched into the world of Austrian wine, he might just have Blaufränkisch running through his veins.
His parents, Anita and Hans Nittnaus, worked tirelessly to revitalize Burgenland’s wine reputation and establish it as a destination for fine red wine. They’re considered some of the most capable growers in the country, and they are champions of its native red grapes, Zweigelt and the aforementioned Blaufränkisch. Martin play a key role at his family’s winery, but he also makes wine under his own name — refreshing, terroir-driven, the kind of thing we want to drink all the time.
Austria may be known for Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings, but Blaufränkisch is its unsung hero grape. French wine lovers can find Blau analogs in the likes of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Mourvèdre…the list goes on. Wines made from Blaufränkisch can be light and juicy, rich and spicy, deep and savory, a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures.
Like his parents, Martin doesn’t want to mask or dilute Blaufränkisch’s inherent goodness with oak, sugar, or other manipulations. He and his brother split off 15% of their parents’ land to farm biodynamically, building on the critical sustainability efforts of Nittnaus senior (composting, cover crops, minimal plowing). In the cellar, they might use tanks, old casks, or amphorae, all in pursuit of terroir expression and fruit purity.
We’ve been fans of Martin (and his wines) for a while. We were seated next to him at a Schezuan restaurant a few years ago (where we found out how well Blaufränkisch pairs with cumin lamb and mapo tofu) — his passion was immediately evident. When he came into town late last year, and poured his ‘21s for us, we were blown away.
The entry level bottling, Manila, is light and pretty, a gently floral wine that tastes of blackberries and spice. Elektra is the step up: saline, more concentrated and with a beautiful structure of ripe, fine tannins and refreshing acidity. They’re compelling, and just plain delicious. And we want you to love them, too!
Nittnaus, Burgenland Blaufränkisch 'Manila', 2021 $24.99
Pure, elegant and drinkable with an almost-Burgundian shape. A little bit floral, a little bit spicy, fresh and easygoing. Dark fruit (blackberry, plum) on a light, lithe frame. Drink it on its own or with grilled chicken or a burger.
Nittnaus, Burgenland Blaufränkisch 'Elektra', 2021 $31.99
Saline, long and silky, this is more concentrated than the Manila, while maintaining its effortless elegance and freshness. Blaufränkisch as it is meant to be!
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