DNA analyses have shown that kékfrankos is identical with the Austrian blaufränkisch and also the variety known as borgonja in Croatia. One parent is gouais blanc (also a parent of gamay noir), so one can make the connection with Burgundian style. However its place of origin is not France but the region somewhere between Dalmatia, Hungary and Austria, the exact location has not yet been identified.
Finding the best clones is a central issue with kékfrankos as well. One of the priorities of this research is to find the right clones which are able to face the challenges posed by climate change and produce wines of great quality.
This is a variety that is good at transmitting the characteristics of individual vineyards, of soil and geography. The character of the grapes varies according to the soil types so the clay, loess or limestone content of a vineyard is a major influence on the personality of the wines. In Szekszárd the rate of limey soils varies between 5-30% therefore the vines must be able to withstand lime. It is by no accident that whereas previously premium quality kékfrankos came from selected barrels today the number of single vineyard bottlings is on the rise.
Kékfrankos is a trustworthy, reliable variety that provides year in, year out the right volume and quality to produce wine. It shows medium resistance to mildew and due to its thick skin it can withstand autumn maladies like rain, humidity and botrytis. In hot years it loses some of its unique character, it achieves the highest quality in moderate vintages this is when it can show its true colours. Kékfrankos is good at retaining acidity a welcome feature in vineyards with hotter microclimate.
You will find kékfrankos in almost all the various wine categories produced in the region: rose, schiller, everyday reds, top reds and of course it is the cornerstone of Szekszárd Bikavér. Because it works so well with international varieties there is a growing tendency to use it as a blending partner for heavier, more substantial blends based on cabernet sauvignon or merlot: the juicy acidity and low alcohol typical of kékfrankos lightens and freshens up these wines and helps to bring the drinking window closer. In terms of oaking it prefers shorter time in wood and larger preferably used casks. In really outstanding vintages it might benefit from ageing in small barrel as well.
Premium quality kékfrankos has a steeper ageing curve than wines made of international varieties: it may reach its peak in 3-5 years and thanks to its acidity will remain there for a long time. Growing international recognition and excellent results at wine competitions are fortunately turning into expanding sales for kékfrankos. The popularity of kékfrankos as an easy drinking everyday wine is also on the rise.
The flavour profile of kékfrankos is dominated by dark and red cherries, sour cherries, violets and black pepper. It can cut through fatty dishes so it is a great match for ducks and it also goes well with dishes containing cabbages and beetroot.