2018 Sziegl Kadarka 'Herreberg'
Region: Hajós-Baja < Hungary
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: 40 years+ old short goblet trained vines on pure sand soils; fermented in open vats, 2 punchdowns a day, then pressed off to 225L and 300L used oak barrels for 8 months of aging; bottled unfined/unfiltered, with minimal So2; 12.6% ABV
Winemaker: Petra and Balázs Sziegl
This wine comes from a place in Hungary, 3 hours south of the Danube, called Hajósi Pincefalu (the cellar village of Hajós) which is apparently like a cellar theme park, with sandy vineyards on top and narrow streets and cellar doors below. While this area was dealt the typical Hungarian historical blow after the world wars and Communism, the older sandy vineyards were left alone due to the risk of heavy Soviet tractors collapsing the vast cellar system. Here a young couple Balázs and Petra are raising a baby and a new-ish winery business. Balázs studied viticulture and wrote a thesis on the local grape, Kadarka -- he is focused on the vineyards, a ton of clonal research, and preserving the older vines. Petra studied winemaking and is principally in the cellar -- or the nursery with baby.
Kadarka is the most important red grape in Hungary -- or was, as most producers have given up on this challenging-to-grow grape (tight clusters = susceptible to rot).
But we're stoked that the Sziegls have chosen to focus on this delicious grape rather than follow their neighbors and abandon it, as it drinks like the love child of Gamay and Trousseau Gris. It's a late-ripening grape, so develops complexity and phenolic ripeness without the weight or alcohol. Though light, and aromatic, it has both intensity and energy, with bright red fruit, delicate spice and silky, fine tannins. If you're a lover of Gamay, especially the lean Beaujolais style of say Fleurie or Regnié crus, this is up your alley. Tiny production, we didn't get much, grab one now.