"I believe the world of wine is so fed up with uniform wines, produced with the goal of achieving a maximum of points in a tasting and not with the motivation of creating from the raw materials that are at disposal, namely soil, climate and varietal, a product that is singular, because of the fact that it can only grow in this one place. An ancient cultural artifact, that under the influence of capitalism with all its facets runs the risk of deteriorating to a mere industrial product. Fast money creates fast wines and there it is the fast wine to go with our fast food. No friend of wine really wants this and even the so called wine industry won't want it anymore once they realize how they have shot themselves in the foot." - Roland Velich
Velich farms about 60 acres spread across several smaller vineyards around Austria's Burgenland region. The two most impressive, which he vinifies as single vineyard sites, are the Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg vineyards. Neckenmarkt is a hillside vineyard that descends out of the nearby Ödenburger Mountains in a breezy chill, its metamorphic soils and dense planting giving the 45 to 85 year-old vines little comfort in their efforts to ripen fruit. Lutzmannsburg, on the other hand, is a warmer, flatter place about 10 kilometers away, and tends to be easier on its 100+ year-old vines, who are so closely packed together they make their own lives difficult.
Bläufrankisch makes up 95% of Velich's vineyards, but the remaining 5% are a mix of Grüner Veltliner and Chardonnay which Velich makes into a white blend and a couple of varietal Grüner Veltliners.
Velich farms organically without herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers, but he adamantly refuses to both apply for certification or to put anything about it on his labels. He says he does not care. "In the 25 years I've been making wine I have never used commercial yeasts. I use very little sulfur, and never fine anything. I think fining destroys a lot in a wine, especially in white wines."
His wines are harvested from many small parcels in Mittelburgenland, from vines planted in Neckenmarkt (where the soils are slate on one end of town and limestone on the other, elevation 400M) and in Lutzmannsburg (deep clay and loess over volcanic subsoil) hand harvested, yields in the 30s/low 40s hecto/hectare. His wines are done in open wooden fermenters with autochthonous yeasts, matured in used barrels, 500L and 3000L, then it finds its way into the bottle unfined and unfiltered.
His 2012 Bläufrankisch is proving to be one hell of a wine for the holiday season for Sour Grapes. We have always had a strong passion for Austrian wines, especially reds from the Burgenland region near the Hungarian border, so to be able to offer Velich's wines this year is sweet. The wine is really elegant and it is hard to put just how elegant it is into words. For those of us familiar with most Burgenland reds, it transcends what we understand today. It mirrors world class wine styles from Burgundy, the Northern Rhone and perhaps Piedmont. Velich is truly showing the potential for Bläufrankisch to amplify and convey a true sense of place. It has fresh aromas of tart cranberry, black plums and macerated strawberry that are woven together with iron, fresh herbs and crushed floral notes. It has a tightly wound core with racy acidity and a long finish. It is a unique wine and it will appeal to a wide range of palates and an even broader range of foods at the dinner table this winter.