May 08 2017

The big picture of Kékfrankos in Hungary – Styles, tastes and more

Published by at 9:01 pm under Hungarian Wine

There are several synonyms (e.g. Lemberger, Blaufränkisch, Frankova…) for the variety Kékfrankos and while the exact origin is unknown, still there is a lot to talk about the variety. The “Fränkisch” name was given in the Middle Ages to the varieties, which were of higher levels. Several stories refer back to Charles, the Great (Charlemagne ruled in the 8th century much of Europe), who enjoyed wine and named the “better” (or more suitable for that particular climate, soil) varieties as “Fränkisch” and the inferior ones as “Heunisch”, after the Huns, who have been seen by many in the West as a threat few centuries earlier.

Erhard Heumann winemaker from Villány (taking Kékfrankos serious) pointed out recently another interesting and most likely possibility about the variety. The “missing link” Blaue Zimmettraube reveals that ‘Blauer Portugieser and Blaufränkisch originated in Lower Styria, Julius Kühn-Institute (JKI), Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof, Siebeldingen, Germany; Vitis 55, 135–143 (2016). Hence Kékfrankos suppose to be a natural cross between Blauen Zimmertraube and Weißen Heunisch.

There are several legends in Hungary as well about the name, one is, that the army of Napoleon paid with a blue frank for the wine around Sopron (there are many mutations of this story too), yet as a matter of fact there were only little red grape planted in the 19th century. One of the synonyms, used in Hungary for Kékfrankos, was the word “Nagyburgundi” (Big Burgundy), which makes somewhat sense, as the “Wine Grapes” Encyclopedia refers to Kékfrankos as closely related to Gouais Blanc. So it cannot be that “inferior” after all.

kekfrankos

The Kékfrankos

According to the University of Adelaide Winegrapes eBook Kékfrankos is amongst the top 30 most planted red grape varieties in the world and that number has been increasing over the last 10 years. Based on the 2010 figures it has been planted on 16141 hectares, of which Hungary has roughly half (over 8000 hectare) the total size.

Major styles in Hungary

Kunság (2300 ha): The biggest plantings overall in Hungary and by far the widest share of Kékfrankos. Light-bodied wines with moderate, fruit intensity, that shares some spiciness and berry fruit. It should be all about freshness and fine fruit with a decent finish. Some good results are produced as rosé as well.

Eger (1000 ha): The various soil types and micro-climates are in charge for the diverse style.  Eger is certainly great for the variety. Not only vital, when we talk about the Bikavér blend (it should be around 30-50% Kékfrankos in the blend), but also as an alone entertainer. The wine provides a lovely, spicy, herbal combination and depth, yet never too heavy, sharing freshness.

Sopron (890 ha): For many “The Kékfrankos wine region” in Hungary. Certainly the proximity to the Austrian border (Burgenland) and the century old history with the variety can also confirm this. The style has the following characteristics here: lighter colour, more freshness and elegance.

Szekszárd (630 ha): The most planted variety in this region. The loess soil supports the elegance and the softer weight on the palate, yet there is always plenty of fruit in combination with spiciness. Harmonious, lovable and graceful. And let’s not forget about the Szekszárdi Bikavér (Kékfrankos has to be a minimum of 45% in the blend)!

Mátra (485 ha): Like in Szekszárd, at the Mátra Kékfrankos can also produce really good rosés and appreciates the blends. If the right site is selected (plenty of volcanic base material exists around the highest Hungarian mountain), it can boost extraordinary quality.

Hajós-Baja (375 ha): Somewhat similar to the Kunság area, yet possibly with a bit more depth and length. The spicy, herbal note should be backed up with good fruit and supported by freshness. Fine rosés are also produced here.

Tolna (333 ha): Perhaps it’s a slightly neglected region and in the shadow of Szekszárd, yet similar soil and climate conditions exist here. Wines perhaps with a lighter character compared to Szekszárd.

Villány (250 ha): Perhaps the heaviest of all Kékfrankos in Hungary. While there are several other varieties, which tend to be more important, yet Kékfrankos is a very good all-rounder, deep colour in combination with ripe fruit, usually more use of oak and of course as virtually in all region, very good rosé can be produced here as well.

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Tasting notes (tasted: 22/04/2017)

Benedek Winery (Mátra)
2016 Rosé
Salmon colour. Fresh, light, crisp, clean and zesty style. Bright fruitiness with a good depth for a rosé, accompanied by juicy, red berry, raspberry finish with juicy note.

Drink now

Benedek Winery (Mátra)

Kékfrankos 2015
Purple colour. Herbal greenish note with a touch of nuttiness and cashew on the scent. Bright, linear, fruit driven on palate, which is quite a difference compared to the nose. A dash of oak adds to the supple character. Medium finish with a hint of juiciness.

Drink now – 2018

Gobri Winery (Mátra)
Kékfrankos 2015
Medium ruby colour. Herbal, spicy, slight leathery note. A hint of black fruit, leafy overtone accompanied by some spiciness. Medium body and finish.

Drink now – 2019

Bock Winery (Villány)

Kékfrankos, Fekete Hegy Selection 2015
Medium purple colour. Young, fruit driven note, followed by a dash of minerality and herbal touch. Plum, red berry, blueberry. Full-bodied, good depth, clean and fine, fruity, juicy, mix of red and black fruits, fairly complex. 12 months second use barrique, not yet released. Really good length with concentration.

Drink 2017 – 2025

Ch. Teleki (Villány)

Kékfrankos 2015
Medium ruby colour. Nutty, herbal and spicy note, delicate red plum,  followed by cranberry. Fresh, good balance, juicy red fruit, spicy, slightly rustic tannin structure. The wine will be released in summer 2017.

Drink 2017 – 2020

Gere Zsolt (Villány)

Kékfrankos Gentleman 2013
Fading ruby colour. Herbal, smooth red fruit touch, accompanied by leather vinyl note and followed by cranberry, blackberry. It keeps the fruit tuned. The Austrian clone supporting lower alcohol – says Zsolt. Multilayered, juicy palate, the red and black fruit show some finesse with moderate intensity. Juicy finish, fine tannic note, well-balanced with some maturity.

Drink now – 2020

Ruppert Winery (Villány)

Kékfrankos 2013
Ruby colour. Moderate nose, a combination of some spice and red fruit. Fresh on the palate with good vibration, fine vinous and likable character. Classic style of variety, nothing overly complicated, yet fine finish.

Drink now

Koch Winery (Hajós Baja)

Kékfrankos 2015
Medium ruby colour. Muted nose, clean, simple fruit. Juicy red fruit, accompanied by a hint of pepper and bell pepper on the palate. Round, moderate finish, simple.

Drink now

Vylyan Winery (Villány)

Kékfrankos 2012
Deep ruby colour. Spicy, warmth intense fruit driven blackish nose, thatshows loveliness with some jaminess. Good oak use, warm palate feeling, full-bodied, yet balanced. Juicy and black fruit, serious weight. Good finish, warm depth.

Drink now – 2022

Vylyan Winery (Villány)

Kékfrankos 2011
Deep garnet colour. Spicy, herbal note, warm style. Almond, sweet spice, nutty, topping of fine cream, it gets quite exciting. Multilayered sweet spice, kernel note, rich black and red fruit, and notto forget (once again) the spicy side. Smooth and rich, concentrated with supple mid palate. A dash of leathery touch yet still standing good and powerful.

Drink now – 2022

Fáncsi Hegyi (Balatonboglár)

Kékfrankos Rozé 2016

Pale salmon colour. Fruity, light and simple nose. Straightforward light rose with fresh, juicy, bright fruit. Crisp, tangy finish.

Drink now

Szent Donát Birtok (Tihany, Balatonfüred-Csopak)

Magma Kékfrankos 2015

Medium ruby colour. Fresh, fruity, spicy, round, red berry driven nose with a certain terroir (Tihany!) character. Delicate, yet still tremendous due to this effortless style. Multilayered, red fruit, stony note. Youngish on the palate with a hint of minerality, very well-made, fine fruit and the extra dimension has not just juicy red fruitiness and spiciness, but great focus, excellent balance and concentration. Open vat fermentation and used oak 2&3 used for 8 months.

Drink now – 2025

Gál Szőlőbirtok (Szigetcsép, Kunság)

Kékfrankos 2015
Light ruby colour. Fresh, herbal, cherry blossom with a touch of mint bubble gum on the nose. Juicy, light red fruit, elegant, yet simple, light-bodied, smooth red fruit, accompanied by a dash of sweetness on the finish.

Drink now

Homola Birtok (Tihany, Balatonfüred-Csopak)

Kékfrankos 2015
Medium ruby colour. Fruity, good depth, fine richness, cranberry plum with a hint of black fruit. Floral, fine spice, bright and complex fruit.
Great freshness, lovely, bright, floral, red berry, blueberry, stunning duration, long and focused finish with complexity and endurance. Well-done wine with a certain stony character on the mid palate. Very good indeed.

Drink now – 2024

Csóbor (Etyek-Buda)

Kékfrankos 2015
Medium ruby. Floral, nutty, herbal touch. Slight jammy note. Fresh, bright red and black fruit with a hint of bell pepper. Juicy, light finish, accompanied by a touch of grippy finish.

Drink now

Toronyi Winery (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos 2012
Medium ruby colour. Fine fruit spice and herbal note, underlined by blackberry, grind black pepper, yet still fresh.
Juicy, crisp mint, followed by black pepper, spice and elegance on the palate. Succulent with a herbal attack, followed by concentration.

Drink now – 2020

Fekete Winery (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos 2009 Válogatás/Selection

Ruby colour. Leathery, savoury nose. A dash of burned tarmac. Spicy, round, medium body with mature spice, easy going on the palate with moderate finish.

Drink now

Dúzsi Winery (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos Görögszó 2013
Deep ruby colour. Spicy, farmyard, barnyard nose in combination with herbs and black fruit. Grippy on the palate, full-bodied with bell pepper, herbal overtone, intense and concentrated. Rustic finish with a touch tannins.

Drink now – 2020

Domaine Gróf Zichy (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos 2012
Deep ruby colour. Herbal, mint, overt nose. Juicy, full-bodied nose with a grippy structure, fruit and spice appear on the overtaking lane. Jammy, warm, concentrated flavours, round and balanced, well-made, but lacks excitement.

Drink now

Takler (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos Reserve 2015
Medium purple colour. The wine will be bottled shortly. Fresh spicy, mint, followed by peppermint, quite likable, cool nose. Red bright fruit with spice and pepper, accompanied by a hint of rose pepper. The smooth fruit and the good use of oak add to the dimension, fine depth.

Drink 2017 – 2024

Schieber (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos Triologia 2015
Light ruby colour. Fine chocolate spice, plum, delicate sweet note, elegant touch on the nose with plush red fruit.
Juicy, light, yet with a fine, ripe character. Concentrated, yet with elegance and finesse, full of blackberry, red berry notes.

Drink now – 2022

Schieber (Szekszárd)

Kékfrankos 2013
Medium ruby colour. Great depth of concentration, sound black fruit, spice, blueberry and fine sweet note. Good concentration and freshness, complete and all round style. Well-made with freshness and pure fruit.

Drink now – 2020

Juhász Testvérek (Eger)

Kékfrankos Gesztenyés Vineyard 2011

Planted in 1968. Deep ruby colour. Intense, sweet black and red fruit driven with a hint of liquorish. There is also a touch of volatility. Rich spice and black fruit with wild berry firm grip on the palate.

Drink now – 2020

Havas & Timár (Eger)

Kékfrankos 2013
Ruby colour. A dash of nutty, spicy note with herbs. Black fruit, followed by bell pepper, spice, idea of peppery, tangy, juicy combo on mid palate. Fairly long with good concentration.

Drink now – 2020

Gróf Buttler (Eger)

Kékfrankos 2015
Not yet bottled. Deep ruby colour. Slightly muted nose. Full-bodied, rich, tangy, juicy black fruit, underlined by sweet spice, fair intensity and concentration. The sweet fruit core is dominating, balanced with plenty of oak.

Drink 2017-2023

Dula Pince (Eger)

Kékfrankos 2002

Garnet hazy colour. Very mature, aged nose of bacon, fat, smoke, forest floor with some mushroom mix. The dash of red berry is quite interesting very evolved, but not dead. Mushroom forest floor, very mature once again, but still shows some freshness and balance. Good tannin base with medium full body. Wild herbs, some cheesy note, but all seem in balance, good consistent drive.

Drink now

Kasnyik (Felvidék, Kürt)

Kékfrankos 2015

Medium ruby colour. Bright cherry, red fruit, wild berries, interesting nose with good dimensions. Juicy, light, but very elegant, delicate fruit driven, lovely concentration. Graceful.

Drink now – 2020

Bott Frigyes (Garam mente)

Kékfrankos 2015

Medium ruby colour. Lovely, smooth fruit on the nose. The subtle after mid palate peaks, there is an intense attack of red- and blackberry fruit, followed by fine use of oak. Sweet spice, lovely, colourful.

Drink now – 2020

Bott Frigyes (Garam mente)

Kékfrankos 2013
Medium ruby colour. Lovely spice, round, fine red fruit, delicate nose with a whiff of bright grind pepper. Juicy, very fresh, colourful, yet a good ripe grip of tannin. Elegant, dried herbs at the end.

Drink now – 2020

Plannina Borház (Pécs)

Kékfrankos 2013

Deep ruby colour. Herbal, dark berried fruit, followed by mint and spice. Red fruit juicy with spice and bell pepper. Fairly classic, showing elegance and good vibe.

Drink now – 2019

Tűzkő Estate (Tolna)

7frankos 2013
Best 7 barrels. Medium ruby colour. Spicy, herbal note with a hint of red fruit. Good attack on palate, yet keeping the freshness, it is more about lightness and grace fullness. Good, bright red berry, followed by some pepperiness. The long finish keeps  the duration.

Drink now

Molnár Borház (Mór)

Kékfrankos Rosé 2016

Pink colour. Fruity nose. Playful palate, light, crisp, lovely, red fruity. Light-bodied with moderate finish and juiciness.

Drink now

Etyeki Kúria (Etyek)

Kékfrankos 2014
Purple colour. Light, fresh, fruity red berry with a whiff of floral note. Fresh, light, bright fruit note, accompanied by juicy cranberry, medium finish.

Drink now

Bónis-Reitter Winery (Sopron)

Kékfrankos 2015
Medium purple colour. Light, herbal, fresh note. Crisp, delicate, red fruit with some peppery note, but very crisp for red wine. Bright, fresh, with a hint of floral touch at the end.

Drink now – 2020

Gangl Winery (Sopron)

Selection Kékfrankos 2009
Garnet colour. Wild berry note, touch of medicinal, dill, spicy note. Fresh fruity, juicy style with some light, ethereal note. Tangy spice, green, red fruit mix, cut, grassy, carrot, zesty, blood orange, accompanied by a hint of savoury, tangy earthiness.

Drink now

Vincellér (Sopron)

Kékfrankos 2013
Medium ruby colour. Beefy, red fruit with some wild herbs, chocolate, marzipan, sweet almond note. Juicy red fruit, spicy, beefy bacon, red fruit note.

Drink now

Taschner (Sopron)

Kékfrankos Weidengrund 2008
Light garnet colour. Muted nose, juicy, fresh, bright, red fruit with good intensity. Fresh, bright note with round, peppery, red fruit, still vibrant with duration and depth, good grip of tannins.

Drink now – 2021

Taschner (Sopron)

Kékfrankos Scheim 2008
Medium deep ruby colour. Wild berry, herbs, sweet spice. A hint of jamminess, sweet, herbal note, dill with some notes of marmalade. Full-bodied with hearty richness and some oxidative character, followed by herbals, earthy, forest floor, mushroom touch. Fairly long finish.

Drink now – 2022

Winelife (Sopron)

ps 2012
Medium ruby colour. Bright, spicy note, fresh, round, delicate, black fruit with good depth. Fine fruit, good grip, fairly full-bodied with intensity and richness on the mid palate, the fine use of oak adds to the complexity.
Long concentration, serious.

Drink now – 2025

Jandl (Sopron)

Missio Kékfrankos Újhegy dűlő 2015
Medium ruby colour. Spice, mint of herbal note. Fresh, juicy, red fruit. Slightly muted nose.
Fresh, bright, black fruit, well-balanced, fruit driven with a dark tone. Long finish.

Drink now – 2025

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