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Napoleon's wine

In 1809 the poncichters of Sopron, who could not speak a single word of Hungarian, could not even suspect that the Napoleonic soldiers quartering in their homes, who were mere burdens and caused suffering to the town, would leave such a magnificent heritage to their successors.


Napoleon

As it happened, according to the memories of the inhabitants, the soldiers thoroughly enjoyed the delicious and abundant Hungarian provisions and the flavour of the wines of the historic wine-growing region of Sopron. Beyond the compulsory portions, the soldiers purchased the excellent wine trying to forget about the perils of the war. The wine-makers were soon to realise that the French soldiers had two types of banknotes, one was the wartime banknote of white colour, which was printed by Napoleon in order to cover the military costs while the other was blue, which dated from the former times and was more valuable. The poncichters were only willing to sell their best wines for the blue banknotes and when asking for the money they simply said: blue francs.

Tradition has it that this is how this excellent wine got its name, Kékfrankos and has ever since been called by this name in many parts of Europe. The story is charming, though surely untrue, since during the Napoleonic Wars white wines were the characteristic wines in Sopron as well and it was only after the phylloxera disease (in the second part of the 1800’s) that Kékfrankos vines appeared in great quantities.

Although the origin of the wine is not distinguished - according to ampeology it comes from the Caspian Sea - its curative powers are unquestionable. The three-fold positive physiological effect of red wine is widely known, however, Viennese physicians confirmed between the two world wars that the salts tartrate that are present in Sopron grapes cure the deficiencies of the peristalsis and the stomach. The physicians recommended the Lövér Szálló of the time, today Hotel Maróni, to their patients and health tourists from Vienna invaded the town in great numbers. They cured themselves, made excursions and when they caught a glimpse of the snow-capped peaks of Schneeberg from the Várhely lookout tower, they even felt at home to a certain degree. These visits were abruptly stopped by World War II and for a long time no health tourists arrived from Austria.

Tamás Taschner
Fertö-táj Világörökség Magyar Tanácsa Közhasznú Egyesület managing director


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