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Heimann & Fiai, Kékfrankos “Bati Kereszt”Szekszárd, Hungary 2019 (750mL)

From the Wine Shop

Heimann & Fiai, Kékfrankos “Bati Kereszt” Szekszárd, Hungary 2019 (750mL)

“The Heimann family isn’t content to make good wine from their local grapes. They want Szekszárd to be ‘internationally recognized’ as the great terroir it is.”

Along with Kadarka, Kékfrankos was the signature native red of Hungary before producers (the Heimanns included) began working more extensively with Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was most famously used in the bikaver (bull’s blood) wines of the Egri region, but it fell out of favor for a time, especially during the many years the Hungarian wine industry was nationalized under Communist rule. Only very recently has Heimann & Fiai begun to focus exclusively on Kadarka and Kékfrankos, which has coincided with a conversion to organic farming in their vineyards. This winery really encapsulates everything that’s exciting about formerly communist wine nations like Hungary: it’s all about rebirth and rejuvenation, with the wines taking exponential leaps forward in quality.

Szekszárd is in the Pannonian Basin—a broad, windswept plain covering a swath of Central Europe—giving it a cool, “continental” climate and soils of loess (wind-blown silt) and iron-rich red clay. Within Szekszárd, the Bati Kereszet vineyard is north-facing, surrounded by forest, and so cool that the fruit is typically harvested two to three weeks later than any other site. This is one factor contributing to the wine’s rather distant resemblance to Austrian Blaufränkisch; whereas the Austrian versions have a plumper, inkier, blacker-fruited personality, Hungarian Kékfrankos leans toward the redder, spicier side.

In addition to farming organically, the Heimanns are on the cutting edge of natural winemaking trends, typically bottling their wines with the tracest amount of sulfur possible. The Bati Kereszt bottling is aged in a combination of steel tanks and Hungarian oak barrels for about eight months, resulting in a red of great energy and aromatic lift. It displays a deep roasted-beet color in the glass, with an array of aromas and flavors that are at times somewhat familiar—a little iodine minerality à la Cru Beaujolais, a little black pepper à la Rhône Syrah—and some which almost defy description. It’s a mix of tangy red and black berries, licorice, purple flowers, crushed stones, sandalwood, and wet clay. It is brisk and mouthwatering, and benefits from a rough decant and about 15 minutes to blossom: Serve it cool, say 55 degrees, in Burgundy stems and pair it with grilled salmon, roast chicken, grilled sausages, and plenty else besides—this is a food wine extraordinaire, with lots of savory spice balancing the bright fruit. I bet it will only get better with another year-plus of bottle age, so consider losing a few bottles for revisiting later. You don’t want to miss this!

  • CountryHungary
  • RegionSzekszárd
  • SoilLoess w/ Red Clay
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendKékfrankos
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNeutral Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 55° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2025
  • Decanting15 Minutes
  • PairingChicken Paprikash

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