Author: Kristian Kielmayer , Ágnes Herczeg

Villányi Franc

Villányi Franc

History

The wine district of Villány and the variety of Cabernet Franc have become entwined as a concept, not only in Hungary but also internationally. There are very few international wine books that do not mention Villány directly when they mention the variety. This unique relationship between the region, the variety and the winemakers was perhaps first described in detail by international wine authority Michael Broadbent MW, when he stated that it had found its natural home in Villány. The Super Premium category launched with the product descriptions of 2014 and 2015 prescribes strict rules. These wines can only be made from Cabernet Franc. Villányi Franc has become a concept. The variety is the 17th most planted in the world (around 54,000 hectares), while it is the third most planted variety in Villány. It thus accounts for 14% of the Villány wine district’s entire vineyard area, covering 330 hectares, while there are 1,450 hectares in Hungary as a whole.

Where it's grown

Villány now has 2,433 hectares under vine. Its vineyards were first mentioned in Béla IV’s Royal Charter, although there was certainly already viticulture here in Roman times. Most of its vineyards are located on the southern-facing slopes of the Villány Hills, which stretch for around 25 km. The bedrock is formed of limestone and loess. It has a continental climate with a Mediterranean climate prevailing, resulting in one of the highest average temperatures in Hungary and only around 700 mm annual rainfall.

What its wine tastes like

“Villányi Franc is the epitome of elegance and harmony.” Villányi Franc has one of the strictest protection of origin regulations in the country. Two categories can be made: “premium” and “super premium”. Both require a minimum of one year’s ageing in oak, while the super premium category requires an additional year of bottle ageing and even lower yields. Chaptalisation is not permitted for either. A committee of local wine judges tastes the wines and performs sensory evaluations for both categories, ensuring that they meet the product description for the category in question. Villányi Franc is usually medium to deep ruby with red and black berry aromas. There may be slight jamminess and notes of dry fruit along with pronounced spice derived from oak ageing. It is a full-bodied, complex, expressive wine with a long finish. Naturally, as the wine ages and develops in bottle, these parameters will change.

Wine & food pairing

Cabernet Franc is also an origin-protected wine in Villány, which is marketed under the name Villányi Franc. These wines are the epitome of elegance and harmony, with only the best wines being eligible for this classification. They are distinctly deep in colour with a characteristic and elegant combination of delicate spice and fruit. They must also undergo oak maturation. Its aromatics are characterised by pronounced notes of raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant and a beautiful floral spiciness. There are two categories of Villányi Franc. Premium wines are categorised by distinctive, rich elegance, while to qualify for the Super Premium category, wines must meet the requirements in the product specification and be fuller-bodied, more mouth-filling and complex with a velvety texture. Its elegant, complex style with firm tannins makes it suitable for laying down for a few years, with the best wines continuing to develop for 10-15 years. Always store in a cool place, at a constant temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its quality, in particular if you wish to lay it down for a long time. Serve just below room temperature at around 16-18°C in a wide-bowled, tulip-shaped red wine glass. Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of Villányi Franc wines include root vegetables, potatoes, beetroot, tomatoes, mature cheeses, duck and offal as well as pork, veal and wild boar dishes.

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