Wine of the Week: Leo Hillinger, Blaufränkisch 2017, Leithaberg | Burgenland, Austria

By Dirk Smits

Blaufränkisch | March 7, 2022

The Leithaberg viticultural region on the Burgenland side of the Leitha range, west of Lake Neusiedl in Austria, is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world with its 7,000 acres of vineyards. The discovery of grape seeds in Celtic tombs dating back to the 8th century BC is among the oldest evidence of viticulture in Central Europe.

The wines that are typical of the region are marketed under the Leithaberg DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) designation. The white wines may be made from the Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Neuburger or Grűner Veltliner varietals. The red “Leithaberg” comes from the Blaufränkisch varietal. This grape is a thoroughly central European varietal. It is probably a cross between Sbulzina and Weisser Heunisch. It was first documented in the 18th century in Austria. At that time, in what was then Germany, it had the name of Lemberger or Limberger, which was derived from the town of Limberg, in Niederȍsterreich. Blaufränkisch was used in the past as a crossing partner for Austrian new breeds like Zweigelt, Blauburger, Roesler and Rathay.

The Leo Hillinger winery is one of the largest organic wine producers in Austria based in the Burgenland region. Leo is an entrepreneur with excellence in viticulture. He runs the winery with commitment and passion and has won several prestigious awards for his work. He did his apprenticeship in California and Europe before buying 30 acres of vineyards and opening his winery in 2004. Currently, Leo Hillinger is one of the top wineries of the country and cultivates more than 250 acres of vineyards in organic farming around Lake Neusiedl.

Origin: Leithaberg, Burgenland, Austria
Varietals: 100% Blaufränkisch
Sustainability: organic and sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $37.00
ABV: 12.5%

The wine shows an intense ruby color. The nose displays cherry, blueberry, dried fruit, spice and a touch of well-measured roasted aromas coming from the barrel. It is full-bodied with ripe red fruit flavors, fine tannins and a spicy, balanced and elegant finish.

Suggested food pairings: beef, pork, wild boar, savory food dishes, cheese.

> For more information, visit the Leo Hillinger official website.