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Hungarian Wine Regions: Sopron And Its Vigorous Blue Frankish

Tamás Székely 2015.10.08.

The historic wine region of Sopron, home of the legendary Kékfrankos (Blue Frankish) wine, is one of the oldest wine-growing regions of Hungary. Located near the border of Austria, this wine-growing province is a unique spot of the Carpathian Basin on the gentle hills surrounded by the feet of the Austrian Alps, Lake Fertő and the lowland of Sopron-Vas. Cool summers and mild, often windy winters create a sub-Alpine climate ideal for making strong and elegant red wines like the Blue Frankish. The most valuable area of the region today is a land of 1500 ha on the hillside near Lake Fertő.

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The culture of wine-growing and wine-making created by the Celts and the ancient Romans is the basis of the viticulture and oenology of the wine-growing region of Sopron today. Already at the beginning of the 14th century it was considered as one of the most important wine-growing regions of Hungary with trade connections that crossed the country borders. From the 19th century the poncichters, the German-speaking wineyardists, made Sopron (Ödenburg) wine famous in far places as well. Unlike in other regions, cellars in Sopron are built below the houses inside the city, not in the hillside wineries.

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The local wine-making tradition is proved by the fact that the Authority of International Viticulture and Oenology (OIV) gave the Sopron the title “ the city of grape and wine” in 1987. The World Heritage Committee also included Lake Fertő (Neusiedlersee) and the nearby villages on its List of World Heritage as a landscape of cultural interest in 2001. The whole territory of Fertő-Hanság National Park around Lake Fertő, the quarry of Fertőboz and Fertőrákos, the Esterházy Castle in Fertőd and the Széchenyi Castle in Nagycenk belong to World Heritage on the Hungarian side.

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Although white grapes dominated the area around Sopron until the end of the 1800s, nowadays the characteristic type of the region is the vigorous Blue Frankish grape. It was named after the blue color of the French currency used in the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon’s troops occupied the city. Red wines such as Zweigelt, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot noir are also very popular in the region. Among white types, Green Veltelini, Chardonnay, Tramini, Zenit, Sauvignon Blanc and the early Red Veltelini are the most widespread. It is a peculiarity of the region that the climate here is advantageous for the production of late harvested sweet wines as well.

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The city of Sopron iftself is located 60 km from Vienna and 220 km from Budapest. The city creates a bridge between Hungary and its western neighbours, opening a gate for foreign guests visiting Hungary, as it is symbolized by the coat of arms of the city. This is also presented by the ‘Gate of Faith’, which can be found on the southern side of the Firewatch Tower, the symbol of the city, and which was made in memory of the famous referendum of 1921. The rich cultural heritage and historic atmosphere, the curative and refreshing air of the natural environment, the hiking routes of the wooded hillsides and the proximity of Lake Fertő all make Sopron one of the most beautiful and most pleasant holiday resorts of Hungary.

source: soproniborvidek.hu, visitbudapest.travel and wikipedia