CABERNET FRANC: VERY SPECIAL
I haven’t been to Budapest for a long time, so I can’t be sure the situation is still the same. But in 2011 if you saw in a restaurant a smile on the waiter’s face, then something was wrong. The waiters in Hungary did not smile then, they looked pretty stern. You were not really willing to establish contact with them with no solid reason. And what - looking at them - you did not expect at all, was any advice and recommendations.
So it was truly surprising to hear from an elderly man who just took my order:
- Cabernet Franc?
- Do you recommend me to get Cabernet Franc? - I asked.
He raised his eyebrows slightly and answered:
- What else if you’re gonna eat this?
The next surprise came with the wine.
Nothing in it corresponded to the characteristics of the wines from the Loire or Friuli I knew - neither color nor body, even the alcohol was substantially higher. And meanwhile, it was Cabernet Franc with its pepper notes and fresh tones of red berries.
I fell in love with it and I don’t miss the chance to uncork a bottle of Villany Cabernet Franc since then.
Cabernet Franc is a world-famous variety, but mainly it is known as a part of the Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Franc is popular in the Loire Valley (in Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil appellations) and in northern Italy (Friuli, Veneto). In these regions it produces elegant, yet light wines with palpable green notes. Bell pepper, paprika, juniper, ivy, even tobacco – they usually overlap the jam notes inherent in Cabernet Franc in the best wines of Saint-Emilion.
But Cabernet Franc from Villany is a completely different animal. It is dense, dark, can be of higher alcohol, but it does not become either rude or intrusive.
In aromas there’s a dominant of prunes and raspberry jam and delicate spices - cinnamon, cumin, allspice pink pepper as well as underbrush, leather and, cedar.
Now Villany Cabernet Franc is a flagship variety of its region. Its influence is so strong that in May 2014 a special category of wines was introduced - Villányi Franc. It is intended to refer to the premium wines of Villani, which are 100% Cabernet Franc.
Out of the list of respectable winemakers and great wines I have chosen a Malatinszky Winery Cabernet Franc 2011 from its premium Curia line. The wine fully complies with all the parameters described above, and in this meaning it is a typical wine of the region. The wine is rich, dense, structured, maybe a little overripe. Tannic with spicy grip, black cherry and raspberry fruit. Tar notes are very palpable.
I have been spending my time now between Tokyo and Beijing, where it is just not possible to get this wine. For this reason, I do not have a bottle in front of me now ( But looking thru my notes I feel like I’m there again – on a quiet and clean village street surrounded by these inviting aromas.
I think that maybe my love to this particular winery is so deep because of the occasional meeting with a guy - looks like it was in 2013. We were sitting in a café sipping a wine and having a leisurely talk with a total stranger at the table next door. He used to ask me about Japanese wines and I was very proud to show the depth of my knowledge and very excited to have such an inquisitive companion.
You can imagine my astonishment when a little later I met a photo of this guy in a website and found out that he actually was a Csaba Malatinszky – the owner of an outstanding winery…
Ok. I would suggest to pair this wine with Hungarian - actually very Hungarian – recipe: Paprikas Csirke or Chicken Paprikas. I’ll be checking my notes not to miss something important, as a matter of fact, Paprikas Csirke is not kind of meal you have all ingredients in your head.
2 medium onions chopped very finely
2 tablespoons goose lard (if no - vegetable oil will do)
1 1.5 kg chicken, cut into portions, washed and dried
1 large ripe tomato, skinless
1 tablespoons paprika, not very spicy.
1 tablespoons salt
1 green pepper cut into strips
2 tablespoons. sour cream
1 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cream
Put onions and goose lard into a spacious, heavy saucepan with a good lid, cover with a lead and place on medium heat for 5 minutes. Onions should be transparent but not toasted.
Add chicken and diced tomato and simmer under the lid for another 10 minutes.
Add the paprika, stir well/ Then add half a glass of water and salt. Close and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. The chicken will be stewed under steam.
Remove a lead, allow the water to evaporate.
Stew the chicken in its own juice 10 minutes, watch carefully to prevent burning. If you find necessary – add a little more water.
Remove chicken out of the saucepan and set aside. Into the saucepan put sour cream, flour, and one teaspoon water. Stir thoroughly until a sauce is uniform in color and consistency.
Add green pepper, return the chicken into the saucepan. Close with the lid and put, return to the pan the chicken pieces. Close the lid and simmer on low heat until ready.
Right before serving, add the cream into the sauce.
Traditionally Paprikas Csirke is served with Hungarian dumplings cooked on eggs.