Author: Kielmayer Kristian, Ágnes Herczeg
It is an old black grape variety of French origin, which, according to some recent research concerning its origin, is related to varieties known in the Basque Country. The etymological derivation of Cabernet is probably from the Latin word carbon, which refers to its dark colour. It is less commonly known as Breton or, along the Loire, as Bouchet. It is often blended with other black grapes, especially Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; however, it can also be found as a monovarietal wine. It has also become an important quality variety in Hungary. In 2000, internationally renowned wine writer, auctioneer and fine wine expert Michael Broadbent MW described Cabernet Franc as having found its natural home in Villány.
It is a good cropper, characterised by relatively early budburst and ripening, regularly shaped leaves and loose, branched, long cylindrical clusters.
The variety is most commonly found in France, primarily in Bordeaux and the Loire, and the United States. There are almost 1,500 hectares in Hungary, predominantly in the Villány wine district, where it constitutes 14% of the vineyard area, followed by Szekszárd, both in terms of quantity and proportions. Nowadays, international wine literature nearly always mentions Hungary, in particular the Villány wine district, in any discussion of the variety. The combination of limestone and loess as well as its warm, rainy climate are extremely favourable for the variety, while local winemakers also take the variety very seriously and make super premium wines exclusively from Cabernet Franc. These are produced from low-yielding vines and aged for at least a year in oak.
It produces powerful, rich wines, which, although not as high in tannin or colour as Cabernet Sauvignon, still boast black and red berry fruit along with notes of spice. Its aromatics and freshness are captivating in themselves. Wine writer Oz Clarke described the variety as having an ‘unmistakeable and ridiculously appetising flavour of raspberries, pebbles washed clean by pure spring water and a refreshing tang of blackcurrant leaves’. Besides its coolness and aromatics conjuring up pencil shavings, it is dominated by blackberry and raspberry, complemented by its terroir-derived texture on the palate. In Villány, it also boasts a multitude of fruits of the forest, a hint of jam, warmth and ripeness, resulting in spicy, mellow, full-bodied wines.
Cabernet Franc grape bunch and leaf
Viognier wines are characterised by elegant floral and apricot flavours. It is a full-bodied, oily wine which often has high alcohol, so is pleasant in cooler weather, and even in winter. It can therefore be paired with similarly rich, even hearty dishes and also complements relatively spicy food. Soups with coconut milk, sweet potato curry, creamy, rich cheeses, root vegetables and various prawn dishes also pair well with Viognier. It also works well with ginger and saffron dishes, making it the perfect choice for a seafood paella. It is particularly enticing when matched with coriander and sage but can also be combined with sweet spices. Although Viogner is usually full-bodied and rich, it is most appealing when young and generally not well-suited to long bottle maturation. So, it’s best to choose a younger vintage and drink it relatively quickly. Always store in a cool place, away from sunlight and heat, to best preserve its floral aromas. Serve straight from the fridge at about 8-10°C in a tulip-shaped white wine glass. If the wine has seen some oak ageing, serve a little warmer at about 10-12°C in a wider-bowled glass.