As promised some background info for tonight.
As described on the website of Blue Danube Wine, a US importer: (link)
A native Balkan grape, it was believed to have been brought to Hungary by the Serbs in the 16th Century. It was extremely popular in the 19th Century but was almost completely eliminated under communism. It makes an excellent red wine. While the wine is on the paler side owing to lower tannins, its acids are vigorous and well balanced. It produces complex flavors such as black pepper, cherry jam and cloves and spices. It is one of the key constituents of Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) and is undergoing a revival. This Hungarian grape can make rather good weighty, tannic red but it needs careful cultivation.
Or… if you prefer, from Jancis Robinson (link)
Hungarian grape speciality of uncertain origins which has largely been replaced by the less rot-prone, earlier-ripening Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and Portugieser. If yields are restrained it can make full, tannic wine such as supported the best Bull’s Blood blends, but such wine is rare. It can also be found in Serbia, as Cadarca in Romania and as Gamza in Bulgaria.
A little map for orientation, (Maurer is in Serbia, just on the border with Hungary, while Heimann is in Szekszárd, Southern Hungary (where the host of this tasting is originally from…).
Maurer Kadarka 2017
TWS’s own website somewhat unhelpfully describes Alsace in the “More information” section of this wine (link), I hope therefore that my little research below will fill a little gap.
Bortarsasag (Hungarian wine retailer) wine description (link)
It’s the crop of old vines from the south of Csongrád that partly originate from before the phylloxera epidemic, planted in the 1880s, in 1912 and 1925. It was spontaneously fermented in open vats with punching down by hand. Aged for a year in 10-year-old oak barrels, then bottled in its natural state, unfiltered and unfined. The grapes were harvested earlier than usual, so that the wine has a more elegant style and good drinkability. An opalescent, unfiltered appearance in the glass, with a lively palate and friendly acidity. Possibly this wine stands out the most from the pack with its reductive notes, yet the ‘untouched’ appearance of the primary fruitiness is very exciting in the glass.
Bortarsasag article about the grower (link)
“One has to adjust to the rhythm of the vintage”
Oszkár Maurer (on the left here)
Oszkár’s Maurer’s grandfather was also a winemaker, who in the 1920s made the region’s first sparkling wine. Oszkár, who has been making wine since 1994, also plans to make sparkling wine. His cellar is in Hajdújárás, where his family home is. Out of the vineyards, 10 hectares are in Szerémség and five are in the South Csongrád wine region. The larger Szerémség estate boasts 100-year-old vines: there’s more than 90-year-old Kövidinka and Bakator planted in 1909, and Kadarka planted in 1880, with such old vines a rarity the world over. There’s only manual labour with these vines and the machines are replaced by horses.
The Maurers ferment the wines spontaneously and the use of sulphur is close to zero. The majority of the wines are fermented and aged in barrels, while their red wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. The emphasis is on naturalness, “because that’s how one can stay authentic and show the place where the grapes grow,” said the winemaker, defining his approach. “One has to learn to think together with the wine and take up the rhythm of the vintage. We are more organic than organic because life has to be there in quality wine. The plants that grow in the vineyard also have an important role to play as they provide useful nutrients for the soil that the grapes need. For me, the essence of natural wine is that the grapes should exist in their natural surroundings with minimal human intervention. We should only get involved if there is great trouble.”
Winery background courtesy of Maurer’s own website (link)
Our family (Maurer) moved from Salzburg to the south part of Hungary within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the 19th century. We have been dealing with the production of wine for four generations, and since the fall of communism were we been given the opportunity of competitive wine production. Seizing this opportunity, our family decided to plant grapes in the old royal Hungarian wine region in Szerémség (Syrmia/Karlowitz). We farm 16 acres of land altogether, 6 acres of which are found in the Szabadka wine region, and 10 acres in Szerémség on the Tarcal (Fruška Gora) mountains, which are being farmed with the help of twelve of our colleagues.
The Szabadka wine region is located in Vojvodina, Serbia, directly south of the Hungarian-Serbian border. Many of these grapes are more than a hundred years old. The Szerémi zöld (Syrmia Green) and Bakator were planted in 1909, the Kövidinka (Ston Siller) in 1925 and 1941. Our oldest Kadarka is one of the oldest in the world of its kind, since it was planted in 1880. These grapes are typically cultivated by horse and man power.
The essence of the wine region in Szerémség are the Tarcal (Fruska Gora) mountains. It is a nearly 500 million year old formation made up of volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Its climate is sub-mediterranean and continental. The Danube flows nearly 70 km-s along the foot of the mountain, and the vines of our Riesling are found just 50 meters away from the Danube’s water. The Danube’s vicinity makes the climate of many terriors’ unique and favorable, which is coupled with the soil’s geological composition. 55 thousand vines are cultivated traditionally, and the grapes are produced according to the rules of bio-production. The fermentation is done spontaneously without the use of any additives. The sulphur levels in our white vines range from 30 to 90 mg/l, in the red wines from 20 to 60 mg/l. Most of the wines are yeasted and ripen in oak barrels. The red wines are bottled unfiltered.
The grapes and wine in Szerémség (Srem-Syrmia) have been produced for about 3000 years by the Celtic Scorbiscus tribe, the Romans, the Huns, the Avars, the Hungarians, and after the expulsion of the Turks around 1750, the grape and wine production on the Tarcal was stirred up by Austrian and Bavarian producers. Today this is an almost intact natural environment with an outstandingly rich ecosystem. Most of the wine region belongs to Serbia, while some of it belongs to Croatia. Unfortunately, we are the only winery in the region, which produces natural and authentic wine; however, the number of our followers seems to be growing.
We have managed to replant such native species into our best lands, like Szerémi zöld (Syrmia Green), Bakator, Mézes fehér(Honey Whiter), Kövidinka (Ston Siller), Furmint, Riesling, Sárgamuskotály (Muskateller), Kadarka and Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch). In some plantations we produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. These, along with our Kadarka, make up our wine, called Corvina.
Heimann Kadarka 2017
Bortarsasag description of the wine (link)
The Heimanns’ ‘entry level’ Kadarka made in a light style from an early harvest, blended from several Kadarka clones. It was fermented in tanks, then aged in large used barrels for half a year. Subtle use of oak in order to keep the wine lean and taut. It has Kadarka’s spicy varietal character, with raspberry and strawberry flavours on the light-bodied palate. Despite its rich flavours, it’s round with medium length. To be enjoyed anywhere, anytime.
Heimann website appellation, winery and family background (link)
Characteristics of Szekszárd. Shown through our taste.
The Szekszárd appellation covers the easternmost stretches of the Transdanubian Hills. The thick loess soil of the slopes produces round wines with elegant, fruity aromas. The Mediterranean influence makes the autumns warm and sunny enabling us to harvest at optimal ripeness.
Due to these conditions international varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah became very popular in the 1990s. But we also have high hopes for our local varieties, Kékfrankos (aka. Blaufränkisch) and Kadarka, which seem to respond really well to the challenges posed by the extreme weather conditions of recent years. We believe that the future of our estate lies with local varieties, and our increasing commitment to them is reflected in the structure of our new plantings and viticultural experiments.
Our aim is to transform Szekszárd into an internationally recognized, high-end wine region capable of appealing to the most sophisticated and curious wine lovers.
Living and working in Szekszárd since 1758. German spirit ever since.
After the end of the Ottoman occupation of Hungary in the 18th century Swabian farmers were encouraged by royal incentives to settle down in the depopulated regions. They brought along their advanced wine producing culture and entrepreneurial, hard-working spirit. They planted vine on the abandoned hillsides and revitalized trade. The Heimanns belonged to the “lower street Swabians” in Szekszárd and were one of the enterprising and hard-working farmer families.
In the 20th century the development of the family winery was first halted by the Great Depression of the 1930s and then by WW2. Our great-great grandfather Ferenc (b 1901) on returning from the war was forced, due to his illness, to hand over the management of the family estate to his son Ferenc (b 1930). Heimann Ferenc Jr. was instrumental in the implementation of the first large scale cordon-trained vine plantings, the establishment of the local cooperative for vine crofts and also the founding of the local winery Aliscavin.
Zoltán (b 1959) and his wife, Ágnes have left their respective careers as successful economists to return to viticulture and winemaking. Since 1990 they have reorganized the family estate. The commitment to vineyards has become once again an essential part of our family culture. In 2009 they decided to move to Szekszárd so that they could dedicate all their efforts to running the estate.
The daily operation of the Family Estate is characterized by accumulated wisdom, traditional accuracy and youthful vigour. In all key issues decision making and responsibility lies with the family members.
Zoltán is responsible for strategy and overseeing investments and plantings. He also acts as a host at most of our wine tastings. Ági is responsible for the winemaking, the harvest, the administration and contributes to the entertainment of our guests. Zoltán Jr. studied at the best European universities for viticulture and enology: Geisenheim, Montpellier, Bordeaux and Udine. After 6 years of studies, he is gradually taking over the control over viticulture and winemaking responsibilities. His younger brother Gábor is studying medicine in Munich, and is doing his best to make our wines popular in his circle of friends.
.…and this is what the website has to say about today’s wine (and their approach to Kadarka in particular)
Heimann Kadarka 2017
In the past 25 years we’ve put a great effort in the variety Kadarka. We looked up 80-100 year old vineyards for the best vines. In collaboration with the Pécs Research Institute we’ve started a new clonal selection process. For years, we’ve paid attention to their yield: Which one has thicker skins? Which ones are coloring more homogeneously? Which ones bear the typical Kadarka spices? On the other hand, which ones are atypical? Which ones can be kept on the vines for a week longer?
Having discovered several slight differences between the Kadarka clones, we’ve planted seven of them on our own property. We’ve also made the new clones available for free to our fellow colleagues, all over the country.
Grown on the löss-covered hills of Szekszárd, the variety kadarka shows its uniquely spicy and fruity character, fine acidity. We aim to preserve and expose this elegant raciness by aging the wine for 5 months in big wooden barrels.
Production: 17 560 bottles.
Alcohol: 12,75% vol.
Residual sugar: 0,9 g/l
Total acidity: 4,7 g/l
Dry extract: 26,3 g/l