Perhaps you might recognize the Kékfrankos grape by it’s better-known name, Blaufränkisch, or the “Blue Frankish” derived from the blue coats worn by Napoleon’s troops, but also the blue francs they would use to purchase the wine. Blaufränkisch is one of Austria’s most important and popular red wines. In Germany it is known as Lemberger. Moving forward…..
After WWI, Hungary lost around 71% of its territory to Romania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia (Slovakia), Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia) and Austria. Over 3 million ethnic Hungarians found themselves outside of Hungary with significant outcome on the grapes and traditions that never stopped or are now coming back to life beyond the present day borders of Hungary. In southern Slovakia in Južnoslovenská, on the southern slopes of the Mužsla Hills surrounded by the river Garam, Danube and the Ipoly rivers, is one such example: Bott Frigyes.
Bott and his son Frici cultivate 10 hectares of vineyards next to the River Garam, at 250 metres above sea level. They are growing Furmint, Hárslevelű (Lipovina in Slovakia), Juhfark, Kékfrankos, Kadarka (cuttings are incidentally from Balla Géza in Romania who is also ethnically Hungarian), Tramini, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sárfahér and Olaszrizling. The soil is clay on top of volcanic bedrock, which is also rich in limestone and minerals.
The wine making is certainly structured in terms of technique, although the fermentation is natural. There is zero temperature control, longer lees aging, natural settling, all oak barrel (some amphora), and bottling unfined and unfiltered with a small amount of SO2 at bottling as the only addition. Here the Frigyes use the “Hamberger” method which is essentially alternating layers of whole cluster (foot stomped), topped with whole cluster, then topped with a destemmed and hand crushed layer. This achieves a very fresh, semi-carbonic quality to the wines.
This wine will be perfect for Fall weather cuisine or the holiday table as it will easily be mistaken for a top tier Oregon Pinot Noir, or a stunning Cru Beaujolais. BUT, it will also work remarkably well with a slight chill during the warm summer months when paired with grilled cuisine…..be it dark meat chicken, pork ribs or beef brisket!