At the end of January I visited Szekszárd on the Southern part of the country. Together with Villány, it is the region making the ripest, more full-bodied reds of the country, based on mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – but in a different style than Bordeaux. There is generally a slight move away from overoaked, big reds in recent years, but what I tasted at the region’s most famous producer Heimann is something groundbraking.
They are so different from the regular Szekszárd style that they thought it was apt to create a new brand for these, so that consumers don’t get confused by the style change. So Heimann & Fiai was born, including wines made only from local varieties Kadarka and Kékfrankos (you can hardly find other local black grapes in the region, and there is not much white vines planted – this is a red region).
The debut vintage is 2018, it will be released next week to the market. The lineup consists of two Kadarka and five Kékfrankos reds, made in a similar way: natural yeast fermentation with partly whole bunches, lowish SO2 addition and aging in large format barrels (to avoid oak flavors). Alcohols are around 12%, reflecting the early harvest. I liked the wines quite a lot, they are pure, unforced, retaining good freshness, and the whole bunches give them that special character you rarely find in Hungarian wines, as the technique is not well known in the country.
Kadarka Szekszárd 2018
The entry level Kadarka. A good example of the variety, pale, fragile, easy drinking, but there is unusual spiciness here lead by black pepper – it must come from the stems and a common feature of these wines (except one, which is made from destemmed grapes). Crisp acidity and noticeable tannins (Kadarka usually lacks tannin). A pretty, easy drinking wine. 86 points
Kadarka Porkoláb-völgy Single Vineyard 2018
P123, P115 and P131 clones. The spices of the previous Kadarka, but this one is more fuity, has more depth and structure. Airy, like a light Pinot Noir, but tannins are more noticeable, reaching medium level. Round, polished, pure, this is really nice and drinks so well. 88 points
Kékfrankos Szekszárd 2018
The entry level Kékfrankos. So pure and fresh compared to most Szekszárd reds, without a hint of heaviness. Just a bit of funk, but it’s quite precise. Some green aromas from the stem. Round, balanced, hardly medium-bodied, with the support of enough tannins. Not a complex wine, but such a pure rendition of the variety, and again, the focus is on drinkability and honesty. 87 points
Kékfrankos Bati Kereszt Single Vineyard 2018
The only one made from completely destemmed grapes. A textbook Kékfrankos with it’s sour cherry aromas – it’s pretty, but a bit simple and I actually found the others a bit more interesting. A restrained style. Round and seamless, balanced and dry. 86 points
Kékfrankos Baranya-völgy Single Vineyard 2018
Shows more fruits, it’s more interesting. Ripe berry fruits, red and purple, and some black pepper. Seamless, medium bodied, with good drive. Unforced, even light a bit, but drinks so well, it’s quite refreshing, and the purity is just captivating. 88 points
Kékfrankos Szívem 2018
The old vine selection from the Baranya-völgy. Just what you would expect, a similar wine, but it’s a bit darker and riper, has more depth and structure – while still retaining good freshness and great balance. This is a great wine. 90 points
Kékfrankos Experiment 2018
Made with carbonic maceration. It has good intensity and it’s simply delicious, but a bit funky and simple. Probably not for everyone. 85 points