Reasons to be cheerful – Alte Keller Szendehely Zweigelt 2017

I wasn’t exactly over the moon when I realized that as none of my fellow bloggers showed any interest in tasting a zweigelt made by a no-name winery in a non-wine region the unenviable task of assessing the wine and then in all likelihood crushing the dreams of a young winemaker fell on me. It took me some weeks to pluck up my courage and take the plunge.

When the single bottle of sample finally arrived I was happy to notice that it was a properly labelled wine ready for regular sale not just some naked bottle with felt-tip pen marks on it. And the wine is just great. I can barely remember another Hungarian red offering so much refreshment, punch and sheer drinking pleasure. Thom Wachter in Eisenberg, Austria makes his basic blaufränkisch in a similar style, i.e. clean and precise and chock-full of flavours. I started envisioning some secret connection knowing that Szendehely is mostly populated by people of German descent but the similarity might be a simple reflection of controlled fermentation and the avoidance of any oak influence.

The nose is highly intense, an exciting mix of fresh red fruit and blood oranges coupled with spicy, savoury notes (hints of cumin and ink). The palate is mid-weight, vibrant and zesty but without any hints of unripe fruit. The intensity of flavours doesn’t ebb and flow like with so many other light reds and the finish is quite persistent with a touch of bitterness. The lack of oak, the mild tannins and the abundance of juicy, fresh fruit make this an ideal summer red.

5-6 points and it is a remarkable achievement by any standards. The ex-cellar price is 6 euros. Luckily there are quite a few wine stores listing this wine obviously at higher prices: Bormánia, A Másik bolt, Borbázis and Karaffa Borszaküzlet.

PS: In hindsight I’m feeling proud that it was us that Dániel German sent his sample to and feel slighty ashamed that I was so apprehensive about it.