Category Archives: Kékfrankos

The magical world of Vida’s Szekszárd

vida7

The new labels for Péter Vida’s wines were launched in Budapest this week. Collaborating with a top Spanish graphic designer, Xavier Bas, the labels signify a new phase in the life of this Szekszárd winery.

Since winning Winemaker of the Year in 2011, Péter Vida and family have been working vida5hard in the vineyard and winery, replanting vines and revamping technology with the goal of producing top quality wines that reflect the Szekszárd’s terroir. Péter admits that the first years leading up to this were not always easy; however, they are now poised for a change of image and a tightening up of their range.

vida1A year ago, they decided to change their image as it was frustrating that their labels didn’t show what they wanted to say about their wines. They sought someone closely aligned to themselves and their ideas and found internationally acclaimed Spanish designer Xavier Bas. They sent him some of their wines to try. He was won over and soon came to visit them in Szekszárd.

Xavier said that he discovered three things there:

  • The labels didn’t show anything about Péter Vida, winemaker and family and their love for wine and its creation. It’s very difficult to communicate anything, he feels, if the winery is not unique and real.
  • The labels didn’t reflect the concrete, specific character of Szekszárd and its roots and landscape. They didn’t show the spirit, work, villages, grapes and forest.
  • They had a complex and diverse range of wines.

At the same time, they also realised with so many wines, their message about Szekszárd and the winery was being diluted, so they decided to pare the number down to just seven, broken down into three categories, which should all, of course, be connected to Szekszárd.

The first category, aimed at the supermarket shelves, should be popular, light and quaffable and comprises a rosé and two reds – Tünderrózsa (’fairy rose’), a light, fruity yet elegant rosé from Pinot Noir, Kékfrankos and Kadarka, Tündértanc (’fairy dance’), an elegant Kékfrankos-based blend, supplemented by smooth Merlot and Ölelés Merlot (’embrace’), a vibrant, elegant Merlot, an important grape for the winery.

The labels for this range feature fairies and conjure up the magical world of Szekszárd with fairies dancing in its forest and valleys. They are enchanting and eye-catching, perfect for attracting the attention of the casual consumer and connecting with them. Péter says that when you drink Tündertanc and close your eyes, you can see fairies dancing.

The second category are the Szekszárd wines, that is those wines considered the true reflection of the region and permitted to use the specially designed Szekszárd bottle – Kadarka, Kékfrankos and Bikavér. The labels here are different but demonstrate commonality and relate to the Szekszárd landscape.

The old-vine Kadarka (from vines planted in 1920) is characterised by an image that is a mixture of a vine and a bonsai tree. This was inspired by their Japanese distributor once visiting the gnarly, centenarian bush-trained vines and seeing their similarity to the bonsai – both requiring care and daily work. Petér says that the image ’aims to convey the sense that the wisdom of the plant is bigger than that of humans, even if it is diminutive in size.’

vida10The Hidaspetre Kékfrankos label features the woods above the deep loess which Xavier saw on his visit to the vineyard along with a deer that Péter pointed out inhabit the woods too. The design reflects the wine’s origins and connection to life.

The Bikavér label shows the wine’s relationship to its valleys and vineyards. Xavier used an old photograph as the basis for his design.

He also changed the logo so that it expresses Péter and the town of Szekszárd – this is now the tree of life. The vine represents the main element of wisdom and the passage of time, so is a kind of tree of life.

vida6

This is used on their flagship wine La Vida (Merlot backbone, with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% of Szekszárd character from old-vine Kadarka). The use of the tree of life is also a great play on words, as the family name ’Vida’ also means ’life’ in Spanish.

What is also refreshing is to see that the labels put the winery’s name into the background and emphasise the wines themselves together with Szekszárd. Péter Vida Jr stresses that their aim is to promote Szekszárd and its wines, rather than just the winery.

vida8

I’ve always loved Vida’s wines. Now I love their labels too!

*All photos courtesy of Wineglass Communication

Advertisements

Hungarian winemakers put their football skills to the test

borasz_foci_szekszard_2015_2On 18 July, winemakers from Balatonboglár , Etyek-Buda, Hajos-Baja, Szekszárd and Tolna did battle for a trophy. However, this time, the trophy had nothing to do with wine. The winemakers donned their football boots and went out onto the footbal pitch.borasz_foci_szekszard_2015_3

This year, Szekszárd provided the pitch for the winemakers turned sportsmen, who have been honing their tackling and scoring skills for the last ten years since the first ‘Winemakers’ Battle’ in Pannonhalma.

borasz_foci_szekszard_2015_5Szekszárd’s András Takler organised the event this year, but it was originally the brainchild of Eger’s Tibor Gál, who organised a friendly between Eger and Pannonhalma ten years ago. Since then, other wine regions have joined the fray. Not only does the event give the winemakers the chance to keep their ‘foci’ skills from getting rusty, it’s also a good opportunity for them to get to know their colleagues from elsewhere better.

The reigning chborasz_foci_szekszard_2015_4ampions, Balatonboglár succeeded in holding onto their title. The opening match between Etyek and Szekszárd ended in a 2-2 draw. György Takács from the south of the Balaton was the tournament’s top scorer, clocking up twelve goals in four matches. Etyek boasted the best goalie, Richárd Csalánosi.

borasz_foci_szekszard_2015_6But the fight was still on for the wine of the tournament, should it be the Szekszárdi cserszegi fűszeres or the kékfrankos rosé? Maybe that was decided at the tasting and dinner in the evening.

An afternoon of ‘foxy’ wine

In this case, a ‘foxy’fuxli wine is not the kind of wine with strong musky, animalistic notes that reminds you of your grandmother’s fur coat or fox muffler, sometimes used to describe certain American grape varieties  such as Concord.

The wines I tried last week were Szekszárd Sillers, otherwise known as ‘Fuxli’. All the wines have a label with some kind of fox illustration, hence the name Fuxli.

You might be asking what on earth a Siller is. This is a summer wine, somewhere between a rosé and a light red. They are produced in the same way as a red, but are racked off their skins much earlier. Mostly after one to four days. They are usually fresh and fruity, with relatively high acidity and often a slightly bitter finish. Perfect for quaffing on their own or as a fröccs.

You can find Siller elsewhere in Hungary, but Fuxli is the name chosen to represent the renaissance of this style of wine, previously drupostank for three centuries, but brought back to life several years ago by a small group of producers in Szekszárd including Heimann and Merfelsz.

They have to be produced from at least 50% grape varieties from the Carpathian Basin, in this case, Kékfrankos and Kadarka, and the rest can be made up from other varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The 2014 Fuxlis will be on the shelves in a week or two and I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the ten that were selected as Szekszárdi Fuxli this year. Two, apparently, did not make it past the selection panel.

This year you’ll be able to find Fuxli from the following producers:eszterbauer

  • Prantner
  • Markvart
  • Eszterbauer
  • Sebestyén
  • Mészáros Pál
  • Heimann
  • Takler
  • Posta Borház
  • Göndöcs Lajos
  • Merfelsz

I found this year’s offering to be rather dilute with high acidity, no doubt due to the poor year. However, they were mostly still quite drinkable summer wines. My top three (in no particular order) were:

Merfelsz (70% Kékfrankos, 30% Merlot) Nice and fruity with bags of cherry spice and some floral notes. More concentrated than most on offer. Well rounded and quaffable.

Posta Borház (85% Kékfrankos, 15% Kadarka) Concentrated ripe colour, bags of cherry and spice, with a slightly bitter finish.

Sebestyén (50% Kékfrankos, 50% Merlot) Unusually compared to most of the others, this wine had seen some oak (three months). Rich cherry and red fruits. Less bitter on finish than many of the others.