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News / 12/10/2019 / 439

VILLÁNYI FRANC - TERROIR IN A GLASS

A view from the balcony of Siklos Castle reveals endless vineyards on the southern slopes of Villány hills. Villány wine region covers 2,500 hectares of vineyards and the best plots are located on the southern slopes of  Villány hills.

Villány is Hungary's most important wine region if we talk about red wines. Due to specific climatic conditions and influence of the sub-Mediterranean climate, this region boasts 2,100-2,150 hours of sunshine during the year. So, it is not surprising that 80% of the wines in this region are red wines. In addition to Kadarka and Blauer Portugieser (brought to Hungary by Serbs and the Danube Swabians), black varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufrankisch and Merlot are also found in Villány vineyards.

To understand Villány wines, it is also important to know that vineyards are planted on the following types of soil: loess, limestone, cambisol, clay. Vineyards are located at altitudes ranging from 140 to 350 meters.

Cabernet Franc has found its ideal terroir in Villány. Grapevines growing on loess with high limestone content and exposed to intense sunshine throughout the year create full-bodied, complex, concentrated wines. Therefore, in 2014, the rules which deal with geographical origin were amended, so premium and super-premium category wines made from 100% Cabernet Franc have become flagship brand of the region - Villányi Franc. A key feature of Villányi Cabernet Franc is ageing in predominantly new oak barrels. Consequently, Bock Winery buys about 200 new barrels every year.

Villányi Franc from the premium category is made from grapes originating from vineyards with a maximum yield of 60 hl / ha, or 8.5 tons / ha. The wine is aged for at least one year in oak (in reality, wines are aged for 1-3 years in barrique barrels).

The super-premium Villányi Franc is made from grapes originating from vineyards with a maximum yield of 35 hl / ha, or 5 tonnes / ha. The wine is aged for at least 2 years in oak barrels and bottles (in reality, it is usually more than 3 years in total).

The importance of Cabernet Franc for Villány wine region is also demonstrated by Franc & Franc conference, which has been held every year since 2015. As part of this year's conference, András Horkay from Budapest presented the wine identity of Cabernet Franc from Villány.

The popularity of Cabernet Franc is growing not only in Hungary but all over the world. Of course, the leaders if we speak about Cabernet Franc vineyards are France (37,000 ha) and Italy (7,000 ha), but Hungary has already reached the 5th place in the world with 1,400 ha of Cabernet Franc vineyards (about one third is located in Villány). Expansion of Cabernet Franc in Hungary started when Michael Broadbent said in Decanter magazine in 2000 that "Cabernet Franc has found its natural home in Villány", thus putting this variety and region into spotlight.

If we try to define the style of Cabernet Franc from Villány, then it is typically a wine rich in tannins, high alcohol and full body, with an aromatic profile dominated by ripe black fruits, blackberries, dark cherries, plums with spicy hints, pepper and aromas originating from barrel ageing.

Also, scientific research has shown that in normal years, Cabernet Franc compared to other main varieties of Villány (Kadarka, Merlot, Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Sauvignon) has the highest capacity for photosynthesis (hence the ability to accumulate sugar). In a particularly dry year, the results of the study showed that Cabernet Franc, Kadarka and Blaufrankisch have very similar results and manage to perform photosynthesis. In contrast, Merlot suffers and shows difficulty in performing photosynthesis, while Cabernet Sauvignon shows average results.

The superiority of Cabernet Franc in Villány is also demonstrated by comparing polyphenol content of these grape varieties. Cabernet Franc in Villány always shows the highest content of polyphenols, while its polyphenols are more similar to Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Villányi Cabernet Franc 2018 - Szemes Pince

Szemes Winery owns 5.5 ha of vineyards, with 1 hectare of  Cabernet Franc vineyards situated at Remete, Jammertál and Csillagvölgy plots. These Cabernet Franc vineyards are 20 years old and predominantly planted on loess with high limestone content. After controlled fermentation in plastic vessels, there followed malolactic fermentation and 9 months' ageing in large barrels.

A wine that captivates with its freshness. Beautiful, playful acidity. Primary fruit aromas with a more discreet spicy hinte. Red forest fruit, sour cherry, red currants, floral note. Ripe tannins, still unpolished. Consistent, pleasant wine.

Siklós Cabernet Franc 2017 - Bakonyi Péter Pincéje

Bakonyi Péter Winery owns a total of 5ha of vineyards, of which 2 hectares are planted with 9-year-old Cabernet Franc at Siklós, Makár and Város-hegy plots. The predominant soil types are loess and cambisol. Organic production. Fermentation in plastic vessels followed by 8 months' ageing (50% French oak, 50% stainless steel tanks).

Somewhat more complex aromatic profile with more black fruit, blueberries, blackberries. Full body, the mouthfeel is dominated by aromas of dark cherry, blueberry, blackberry. Salty, mineral impression.

Villányi Cabernet Franc 2017 Lelovits Tamás Pincészete

Grapes for this wine originate from Kisharsány and Bocor dűlő plots. Vineyards aged between 9 and 15, planted on cambisol at an altitude of 200 meters. Fermentation in stainless steel tank, followed by 15 months of ageing in used Hungarian oak barrels.

Aromas originating from oak ageing come to the fore. The palate has preserved fruitiness, complex aromas of dark cherry, red berries, plum, sweet spice. Rounded impression, full body, great structure. Long, soft intense finish.

Villányi Franc Csillagvölgy-dűlő 2017 - Gere Attila Pincészete

Attila Gere Winery is one of the leading wineries in Villány and has certainly contributed to Villány's popularity both in Hungary and abroad. The first Cabernet Franc wine from Attila Gere Winery was produced in 1993. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks, malolactic fermentation and 16 months' aging in wood (80% new oak, 20% used).

Still a youthful wine, with lots of power. This is how I imagine a typical Villány wine. Dense, concentrated, powerful. On the nose, complex, noble, well-integrated elegant aromas of oak, black forest fruit, vanilla, dark chocolate, cinnamon. Despite warmth and concentration, the wine does not have a dull jammy impression in the mouth. Wonderful acidity, ripe tannins. Wine worthy of cellaring as it will certainly get better in the years to come.

Trinitás Villányi Franc 2016 - Heumann Pincészet

While visiting Villány, I had an opportunity to sample wines from Heumann Winery portfolio and I can freely say that this winery is at the top of my Villány favorites. Heumann Winery has 3 hectares of Cabernet Franc (out of 10 hectares of vineyards in total). Vineyards aged between 9 and 16 are located at an altitude of 280 meters on limestone-rich loess.

Wine that has everything in abundance. High alcohol level, full body, robust structure, elevated acidity, complex aromatic profile. However, everything fits and works well as a whole. Ripe fruit (black and red forest fruits, blackberries, plums, dark cherries) dominates even though oak influence persists. Altogether, a great specimen of Cabernet Franc from Villány.

Villányi Franc 2016 - Riczu Tamás Borászata

Vineyard planted in 2004 at an altitude ranging between 160 and 200 meters. Organic grape production. Only natural/vegan vinification. The wine aged for 21 months sur lie in used Hungarian oak barrels (225 l) with regular batonnage.

Wine with character, superb complexity. Concentrated fruit on the nose, blueberries, blackberries, vanilla, sweet spices with an intriguing salty, iodine impression. Full-bodied wine, multi-layered structure, aromas of sour cherry, blueberries, blackberries, sweet spice. Long pleasant finish. Great wine!

Villányi Franc 2015 - Ruppert Borház

Out 27 ha of vineyards in total, Cabernet Franc vineyard covers 2.5 ha. 17-years-old vineyard is planted at Diósviszló plot at an altitude of 200 meters on soil composed of loess and cambisol on limestone bed.

The nose is closed, restrained. Spicy notes that mix with black fruit, sour cherry. Lively acidity. Robust structure. In the mouth, a discrete herbal trace that remains in the finish, accompanied with drying tannins.

Villányi Franc 2015 - Sauska Pincészet

A wine with hypnotizing allure... On the nose, appealing, lush aromas of black and red fruit, pepper, cinnamon, dark chocolate. On the palate, a solid structure. Full body, ripe firm tannins, great acidity. In the mouth, black berries, sour cherries, mint, iodine, spices... A wine that already displays features of a great wine.

Villányi Franc Várerdő-dűlő 2012 - Gere Tamás & Zsolt Pincészete

From a total of 14 ha of vineyards, Cabernet Franc occupies 3 ha at Várerdő-dűlő plot. Organic grape production. Complex soil composition, a combination of loess, clay and cambisol on limestone bed.

After fermentation in a stainless steel tank, the wine spent 30 months in predominantly new French and Hungarian oak barrels (225 l and 5 hl barrels).

Deep, concentrated, mature. On the nose, complex aromas of sour cherry, blackberry, black forest fruit, plum, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, tobacco. In the mouth, well preserved acidity gives wine a backbone. Rich, mature impression. Long finish.

Mandolás 2016 - Vylyan Szőlőbirtok & Pincészet

An excellent wine with lots of character. The nose is dominated by ripe fruit, red and black forest berries, plum, dark chocolate,spicy finish. The mouthfeel is ripe, juicy, powerful. Aromatic profile leans towards jammy fruit notes. Tannins ripe, velvety. Exceptional acidity.

Teleki Tradition 1881 Villányi Franc - Kopar 2015 - Csányi Pincészet

9-year-old Cabernet Franc vineyards are located at Kopár plot, in the highest area (300 meters above sea level), characterized by loess with high percentage of limestone.

Developed, complex wine that continually surprises with new impressions slowly opening in the glass. The fruit is still holding, though it is covered with layers of dark chocolate, cinnamon, iodine, anise, tobacco. On the palate, there is still plenty of black forest fruit, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries with well-integrated oak. What I like is that wine doesn't show heavy, dull character.

Villányi Franc 2015 - Mokos Pincészet

Mokos Winery owns 15 hectares of vineyards, of which less than 3 hectares are planted with Cabernet Franc. The vineyards were planted in 2003 at the Weingarten plot at an altitude of 240 meters. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks, then ageing for 2 years in Hungarian (80%) and French oak barrels (225l).

It seems to me that this wine has all the elements to be an exceptional wine. Full body, complexity, high alcohols, high acidity... Yet, all these elements fail to integrate into one harmonious entity. On the nose, very nice aromatic profile, mix of black and red forest fruit, plum, meat, spicy hints.




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Tomislav Ivanović

Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of www.vinopedia.rs. Member of Vojvodina Sommelier Association. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day.

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