The wines of Roland Velich, Moric, the master of Blaufränkisch
Roland Velich is arguably the master of the great Blaufränkisch variety, and his wines are incredibly terroir expressive. I caught up with him in the Austrian alps to taste the 2020 releases of Moric.
Lutzmannsburg is the primordial remains of a volcano, he explains, with a variety of different soil types. Initially he made the single vineyard wines separately, and then blended them, but since 2019 he has made three single-vineyard bottlings, and even though the vineyards are close the wines are distinctly different – and this difference is down to the soils and aspects. It shows that Blaufränkisch is a variety that can be terroir-transparent in the right hands.
Velich started making wine in 2001 in a partnership, and this project became Moric in 2002 when he went out alone. The initial reaction to his restrained, balanced expressions of Blaufränkisch was muted in his own country. But internationally, people soon recognised that these were serious wines. In 2001 just one Blaufrankish was made, and he added the Alte Reben in 2002. But while he was vinifying the sites separately, he didn’t bottle them as single-vineyard wines. ‘I was clear that having too many would confuse people,’ he said. Hence the wait until 2019 for the separate bottlings.
This was a tasting of the 2020 wines. ‘I think it’s a wonderful vintage,’ says Roland. ‘It was cooler with a longer vegetative period, then some dry cool days around harvest, which finished in the middle of October.’ This enabled him to harvest grapes that were phenologically ripe, but with lower potential alcohol levels.
Moric Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
12.5% alcohol. Very focused and fresh with red cherries, plums and spice on the nose. Nice grip on the palate, which is quite firm and structured but which also shows fine, expressive red fruits. 93/100
Moric Reserve Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
13% alcohol. Ripe and expressive with pure raspberry and red cherry fruit, showing great precision. Nice depth to this taut wine, with good tannins. Has lovely focus and precision. Lively and taut. 94/100
Moric Lutzmannsburg Ried Kirchberg Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
Kirchberg is the steepest slope in Lutzmannsberg, surrounded by forests. It’s the most calcareous part, and there are four vineyards here planted between 1921 and the 1980s. Lovely floral cherry fruit here with freshness and precision. Taut and mineral and very fine with lovely brightness and elegance. Shows very fine-grained tannins, with floral purity and a lovely acid line. 96/100
Moric Lutzmannsburg Ried Schwemmer Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
An east-facing slope, one of three gentle slopes with a layer of loam and calcareous sand, with limestone underneath. Dark, bright and intense with a black fruits nose as well as some hints of smoke and tar. Structured and firm, and quite dark on the palate. Really expressive with grainy black fruits. 95/100
Moric Lutzmannsburg Ried Maissner Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
This is up on the plateau, almost flat but facing slightly south, and has the highest clay content. Supple, bright raspberry and cherry fruit with nice black cherry notes. Has some structure but it is really well balanced with bright tightwound cherry fruit and some vitality. 94/100
Moric Lutzmannsburg Alte Reben Blaufränkisch 2020 Burgenland, Austria
‘This is my take on Lutzmannsberg,’ says Roland Velich, and it comes from 80-110 year old vines. Supple and bright with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit, showing a juicy quality and real finesse. Combines purity with balance, and great concentration. A very nicely crafted wine of finesse and elegance. 96/100
Hidden Treasures by Moric Balaton Riesling/Furmint 2020 Hungary
A collaboration with Villa Tolnay. Linear and crystalline with lovely lemony fruit and a hint of pear. Pure and fine with some refined minerality, and lovely precision. Crisp and layered, and a real bargain at €12.5 retail. 94/100
Moric Haus Marke Supernatural 2020 Burgenland, Austria
12.5% alcohol. Limestone soils on the Leithaberg, this is a white blend, naturally made. Taut, fresh citrus nose is mineral and crisp, leading to a bright palate with a hint of reduction. Fresh and focused with nice limey hints. 93/100
Moric Blaufränkisch Sankt Goergen 2020 Burgenland, Austria
This is Grüner Veltliner. Very fine and expressive with lemon notes and nice purity. There’s a touch of pear richness, too. Shows lovely fruit and has a nice pithy hint. Slightly salty on the finish, which is fine. 93/100
Moric Ried Krainer St Georgen 2020 Burgenland, Austria
Precise, crystalline and mineral, Roland says that this is a ‘pure expression of limestone.’ It has lovely citrus precision with pear, lime and some spice. Very fine and linear with astonishing precision and minerality. Such finesse here. 96/100
Other Moric wines recently tasted:
Moric Neckenmarkt Blaufränkisch Alte Reben 2006 Burgenland
Highly perfumed with wild strawberries, cherries and some sappy green hints. The palate is very fine with a savoury, spicy twist to the supple, green-tinged cherry and plum fruit. A touch of cured meat and earth here in the background, with fine spiciness. It still has a bit of tannin and good acidity, with a nice savoury twist on the finish. So lovely. 96/100
Moric Blaufränkisch 2019 Burgenland
Predominantly from Mittelbergunland. Limestone, a bit of clay, some primary rock. Bottled after 12-14 months in oak. This is taut and linear with lovely bright fruit: cherries and raspberries, with good acidity and nice tannic structure. Lovely fruit intensity but also some savoury structure. Finishes taut and focused: a lovely wine. 94/100
UK agent: Clark Foyster
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