Cabernet Franc wines from less expected places
Sabar (Badacsony), Babarczi (Pannonhalma) Sol Montis (Mátra)
The latest (8th) issue of Wine Atlas includes countries that had never been known as wine countries: Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium and even Sweden! Climate change reshapes the wine world, thus we have to get rid of our biases – great wines can come from unexpected places, too.
Hungary is preparing for the 5th annual Franc & Franc conference, the most prestigious conference and tasting of the variety. The venue is Bock Winery in Villány, where – as late Michael Broadbent said – “Cabernet Franc has found its home”. However, now we recommend 3 Cabernet Franc wines NOT from Villány!
Sabar – The Franc of Friendship
Volcanic Badacsony wine region has some mountains, but Sabar is rather a hill, this is where Sabar Wine House is located. The small estate is mostly known for its white wines – fabulous Rhine Riesling, Olaszrizling, Kéknyelű –, they are successful in the United Kingdom as well. However, Gábor Ádám, the owner loves challenges and so does his winemaker, Bálint Földi, thus Cabernet Franc was definitely on their bucket list. Sabar is not only a winery, it is also a community, the followers have their own “Facebook-like” social media platform called Sabarátság – a pun impossible to translate (Sabar is the name and ‘Barátság’ means ‘Friendship’, altogether something like Sabarizm). The new release Cabernet Franc 2019 is the second vintage of the variety, aged in Austrian and French oak, boasts violet, wild raspberry and some creamy vanilla. Only 1934 bottles were made. Retail price in Hungary is around 10 euros.
Importers of Sabar
Babarczi – Gold debut
Pannonhalma is a relatively small wine region in Hungary with cooler climate. Babarczi Vineyard and Winery is a family estate working here with constant, reliable great quality of reductive, fresh, crispy white wines made of varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Irsai Olivér or Chardonnay. However, a few years ago they started to make red wines, first a Merlot and then Cabernet Franc. The Merlot made it to fine dining restaurants immediately, and now the new Marianum Cabernet Franc has celebrated its debut with a gold medal from Berliner Wine Trophy! Marianum is dedicated to the recently passed away mother of the recent generation, wife of the founder.
The winery is worth a visit, especially if you like warm, home-like atmosphere. It is not far from Budapest (about 90 minutes) and the Archabbey of Pannonhalma is also spectacular.
Sol Montis – Forest around and forest inside
Mátra is a “cool” wine region, even if you haven’t heard of it. We might repeat ourselves, but why not if the message is important. Yes, Mátra is definitely the wine region to watch full of young winemakers, great soil (volcanic) and a wide range of varieties. The second largest Hungarian wine region is the largest mountainous wine region at the same time – covered with forests in large proportion. Sol Montis is one of the leading wine estates of the region, a family winery again with a wonderful estate building and terrace, where tasting is a heavenly experience. Their Cabernet Franc is abundant in forest fruit notes, as if the neighbouring forests would have influenced the character of the wine. Sol Montis Cabernet Franc ferments and ages in barrel, and the resulting wine boasts black currant, blackberry and chocolate notes with a touch of eucalyptus.