Universal Basic Cabernet – Günzer Zoltán Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

An unexpected job – wine list for a small restaurant aimed at foreign guests – forced me to pop my bubble. It’s no fun leaving your comfort zone but I was handsomely rewarded by the experience. I admit it’s a sily prejudice but my bubble is a cabernet-free zone. So I had to go out on a limb when making my recommendation for the budget Villány category. I think of Zoltán Günzer as a technically reliable winemaker with reasonable prices and as 2017 was a hot year there was every chance that even cabernet sauvignon would reach optimal levels of ripeness. Pouring this wine to our quality control group I was wary that my bluff was about to be called. But I got lucky.   

Both my trust in Zoltán Günzer and my hypothesis about the vintage were vindicated. And my old idée fixe served me well once again: less than strict yield control, a lower oak and toast coefficient and no-frills technology often make budget or mid-level wines more enjoyable than no cost spared trophy wines.

The 2017 Günzer displays the most attractive, ripe Cabernet fruit with alluring cassis, raspberries, kirsch liquor and red pepper aromas complemented by licorice and nutmeg notes reflecting the judicious oak ageing. The palate is mid-weight, full of the drive and vivacity of freshly picked fruit which is carried unto the long, gently tannic finish.

On tasting it at least half of the control group immediately stated their intention of buying several bottles of this wine for home consumption. I was suitably relieved and pleasantly surprised. A few days later I bought a bottle myself and under the much more profound and intimate conditions I arrived at the same conclusion: this is excellent value. I’m not going to lie by saying that my desire for Cabernet Sauvignon has been rekindled and there were moments when I felt the heat on the finish and the licorice on the nose was too much for my liking, but overall this is an intense, rich, juicy and quaffable red that deserves a place on our best buy list. 6-7 points.