I can’t recall any Kékfrankos I ever really liked, Ráspi and Luka also considered. If you feel about the varietal the way I do, then keep on reading.
Orsolya Pince – Kékfrankos, 2008
Muddy ruby hue, very unattractive, but what follows could be the definition of unusual. Intense and ample nose with notes of anise which will soon develop into cocktail cherries. On the palate caramelized anise supported by moderate acidity, later with oyster and scallop stock flowing into a fairly long finish. Small bodied wine but exciting and full of surprises.
As long as structure and integration is concerned, this is the opposite of well defined wine, but it makes sense.
I realise that you might have different opinion about this wine since no one in my company that evening found it half as interesting as I did, although no one present is as geeky as I am either.
That evening we’ve also finished off a Bolyki Indián Nyár 2007 which is a Kékfrankos-based blend but it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to Orsolya’s, which costs twice as much anyway.
This is a wine from my preferred range: I don’t feel comfortable buying cheaper red wines (HUF 3300) but I can’t afford spending more on wine every time I feel like having a good red one (which is more often than I like to admit). So this better be good.
Heimann – Birtokbor, 2007
A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot and 15% Kékfrankos this wine has seen 18 months in used oak barrels.
Clean and vibrant medium ruby hue. The nose is a touch reduced showing sweet fruity with traces of wood. This wine smells of gage and plum with strawberry added to the fruit profile.
Elegantly styled palate with smooth acidity and finely composed structure with well handled, yet well defined tannins. Faded notes of clove and other spices also imply smart use of oak. Light but well balanced palate although some might find the 14.5% alcohol sweetness over the top. Open and accessible wine with a good length, but rather restrained in terms of aromas. Lovely texture.
I had to buy this wine, and although it may look like I’m obsessed with Tóth István’s wines I want to make it clear that they’re not that good. But they’re not bad either and if the northern winemaker’s wines are not exactly enigmatic, they’re certainly different from not just the mainstream wines, but most terroir wines too. Knowing that, who wouldn’t buy a Kékfrankos made in 2003, with so little to lose (HUF 2000)?
But before you do, you should know that this wine will devide opinions. Some of you will pour, taste, spit and perhaps never return to this blog if I don’t make this disclaimer.
Tóth István, Kékfrankos, 2003
Blurred, deep ruby with brownish tones and a terracotta rim (so far this could be any Tóth István wine). Another trademark of his will follow on the nose: mouldy, earthy and stuffy and that won’t change with time. On the palate red fruity notes mingled with meaditerranean spices. Hard structure with tannin providing firm underpinning to the rubber taste substance but the tannin will smoothen and become softer after longer contact with the air. The acidity won’t, it remains harsh especially in the finish.
Only for hard core terroir fans who are not afraid of old barrels.
Now that the Hungarian Constitution incorporates (our non-existent) Christianity I sort of feel being under pressure to write more about exuberantly religious winemakers. I kind of hope this could be used in my favour (as an extenuating circumstance) when the full dictatorship finally takes place in the middle of the Carpatians and censorship will eventually (and inevitably) become part of our everyday life.
St. Andrea – Áldás, 2008
This is a Bikavér and as such, predictably unpredictable blend, but Kékfrankos, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Menoir make a unique yet approachable wine here. Fresh, medium dark ruby with purplish shades. The nose is dried tobacco leaves with some alcohol coming through. The ample palate is smoothly styled with a chewy mix of fruits presented in a soft velvety texture and with a long, delicately sour tannic finish. Medium bodied wine with well rounded, very subtle and perfectly integrated acidity.
Not too exciting but well made wine, would go well with a bistro meal.
Price: HUF 3000
Kékfrankos is probably the second most abused widely used varietal in Hungarian post-war winemaking (Zweigelt tops the list). Oddly enough, in Sopron nobody seems to care as it’s still the flagship grape in the area but I must admit I’m still waiting for the Kékfrankos that will prove they’re right. Most experts put Luka among those who are to (or have already) proved my skepticism unfounded.
Pale ruby. Warm, spicy nose with notes of cranberry. Thin body but with some extract sweetness supported by a light salty mineral element and a fine string of tannin. Well rounded wine, with a bit loose structure but well balanced. Mineral texture. It’s an overall pleasant wine but evidently overpriced.
Score: 5 points
HUF 4 150
Nice color, good look. On the nose wet forest soil, mainly, dense and heavy for a Kékfrankos. Further on whirling, robust, unripe and bitter tannins dry out the mouth. Underneath the tannic blast lie layers of surprisingly fine susbstance but hardly any of it comes through. It will open a little releasing ripe forest fruit aromas, too little, too late.
Score: 3 points
Price: HUF 3000
I can’t say much about the winery, Franz Weninger’s wines are everywhere and I still didn’t drink almost any of them.
This Kéfrankos has a very pale hue in the glass. It is very restrained on the nose with hints of chocolate mingled with sour cherry, and it’s a little bit woody-tannic. Very empty on the palate, suspiciously textured. It drinks well, tastes nothing.
Price: HUF 2 000
Footnote: in my clearing the summer stock I ran into a Figula Rosé 2008 which even at room temperature was still enjoyable, with a fresh character and full of raspberry. A pleasant surprise at the start of the heating season.
Villa Tolnay are better known for their white wines, often laballed “terroir” and “artisan” wines by the snobbish community (they’re in my opinion simply one of the most exciting wineries in the Balaton region along with wineries like best-buy producer Scheller and the more unpredictable Szászi Endre). I was recommended this particular (arguably a limited edition) Kékfrankos by someone close to an online wine portal, describing it as a great, fruity red wine under HUF 2 000 selected by the said portal who (I was being told) had been looking for a wine to sell as their own brand for a long time for. The time has come.
However, a Kékfrankos from 2007 from the northern-Balaton region doesn’t sound too promising does it? Suspicious? Let’s see.
Classic ruby color with a not so classic black core. The nose is light but full of toast, burnt bread actually, mingled with red steak and a touch of cherry. The palate has a similar character with toast and meat supported by young, thin but hard and still harsh tannins and medium acidity. The tannins smoothen after 2 hours a little, the acids retreat a bit but a bitter-sour element remains. The overall impression is somewhat enhanced by a chocolate note on the nose and hints of cherry on the palate.
All in all this wine is unworthy of Villa Tolnay who are able to produce not inexpensive, but good white wines year after year. And the online publishment shouldn’t be so proud of their long awaited selection either. It’s quite disappointing actually, after so much hype.
Price: HUF 2000
Following the white wines I’m going to share with you know my notes from the on-site tasting at the Bodri Pincészet.
Bodri – Kadarka, 2007
Very nice fig color! Slightly darker than a typical Kadarka.
The pleasant nose carries notes of cherry and sour cherry.
On the palate the medium tannic acidity is a bit too much for the small body, especially that no fruits can be found there. It has an unpleasant sherry-like finish. I can’t read the rest of my notes, I’m very sorry.
Score: 4+ points
Bodri – Pinot Noir, 2007
A brownish fig color.
Car-leather nose with cognac accent, quite elegant.
On the palate lot of cherry and velvety tannins with a brandy/Port-wine-like underpinning. The 13,5% alcohol is fine here.
Bodri – Bikavér, 2005
50% Kékfrankos, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5-5% Zweigelt and Kadarka make this Bikavér quite confusing, with dark color but a lively move. It’s a bit woody with nice, although deft tannins not yet smooth and with chalky leather and red beet elements on the palate. With time, tobacco too. The wine could have more body.
Score: 4 points
Bodri – Kékfrankos, 2006
Phosphoric nose, woody on the palate.
Bodri, Kékfrankos Szelekcio, 2004
Brick color with ruby accent. More elegant on the nose and on the palate too with smooth, almost oily tannins. Intense cherry, berry fruit and peppermint nose and alcohol (14%), medium body.
Score: 5, 6- points
Bodri – Optimus, 2006
This cuvéé (20% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon) has a less intense, less fruity, instead smoky nose with some tobacco, leather and chocolate. More elegant than the Kékfrankos Selection. This full-bodied wine has smoother tannins.
Score: 6, 6- points
Bodri – Merlot, 2004
Bodri did not make Merlot in 2005 but he’s still got bottles left from 2004.
Pleasant nose. Full-bodied wine but a bit woody on the palate. Burning alcohol, along with residual sugar.
Score: 6 points
I wrote some time ago about how I regained my confidence in Portugieser (thanks to Gróf Buttler) and I was rather positive about Heumann’s slightly overrated, although exceptionally good Kékfrankos recently. I wanted to know the difference between the EUR 12 Heumann and the Heimann Kékfrankos for half of that. Here’s the result.
Medium ruby color with purplish reflections.
Olive oil move but lively, suggesting flimsy structure. The bubbles seem to come from some detergent added to sparkling mineral water: they’re quite bright and transparent without any color.
The nose is surprisingly spicy with ripe, rotten plum undertone (quite nice actually) but this element only appears after appr. 45 minutes. The perfum-like, spicy nose combined with the low textural complexity reminds me more of a Pinot Noir or indeed, a Kadarka.
Thin wine with round acidity, smoothly tannic. The finish is rotten plum.
90 minutes after opening the wine shows more complexity on the palate and becomes very well balanced, something most Hungarian wines under EUR20 lack and it’s quite soft too.
Serve it relatively warm.
Score: 5/10 (after a 4, 4+ start) - read more about the rating system here.
Price: HUF 1 900/ EUR 8
Subscribe to Budapest Wine Reviews Newsletter!