While in 2008 there were nearly 600 hectares under Kadarka vines in Hungary, in 2021 there are only 273 hectares (according to the official statistics of the National Council of Winemakers, aka HNT). Time to make a change!
9 wineries join forces to initiate the very first Kadarka campaign:
the First International Kadarka Day!
The recent intitiative has double objectives: to spread the world about the variety to as many winelovers as possible and also to create a bilingual (Hungarian and English) “Knowledge Hub”, which is updated continuously – even after 20 November.
Participating wineries in 2021
– Eszterbauer Winery (Szekszárd),
– Hagymási Winery (Eger)
– Heimann Family Estate (Szekszárd)
– Koch Winery (Hajós–Baja)
– Lajver Wine Estate (Szekszárd)
– Németh János Winery (Szekszárd)
– Sebestyén Szekszárd (Szekszárd)
– Tóth Ferenc Winery (Szekszárd)
– Tüske Cellar (Szekszárd).
On the website you can find Kadarka wines from the above mentioned wineries along with webshops of international shipment and importers.
Kadarka for us
On the Kadarka Day website, you can also find the opinion of renowned wine experts, for example Tamlyn Currin, winewriter at JancisRobinson.com:
“Kadarka, to me, has the transparency of a child, the soul of a poet, the strength of a survivor, the beauty of hands worn by work and love, the quietness of dawn, the wildness of craggy rocks, the earth-rootedness of tree trunks and the sweetness of lark song. It’s a grape of contrast and contradiction: simple-complex, sad-happy, bright-shadowed. It’s one of the most underestimated grape varieties in the world!”
10 things to know about Kadarka
1) It is not diluted!
If you order a glass of Kadarka, you might be surprised at the colour: Kadarka wines are not as dark as for example Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Kadarka wines have vivid, pale ruby colour, since the skin of Kadarka berries contain less colour. In this respect Kadarka is similar to the famous Burgundian grape, Pinot Noir.
2) Spicy and lovely
So what is Kadarka like? The colour is light ruby, the nose is spicy, rich, fruity. On the palate it is a delicate, fruit driven wine with medium body, refreshing acidity and low tannins.
3) Drink it young? Misbelief!
Kadarka is said to be an everyday wine and it is considered to be consumed young, within one or two years. However, due to the careful selection of the best clones (variants of the variety), some winemakers can create more complex, more serious Kadarka wines with ageing potential. Quality can also be increased by keepeng yield low – they leave less bunches on the vine, thus the remaining bunches tend to be more concentrated and richer in flavour.
4) Partner of paprika
Due to its spiciness, kadarka goes well with paprika dishes like fish soup or chicken stew. Due to its lighter body and lower tannin content, it should not be added to game dishes and beef, as they would suppress the wine. Kadarka is excellent even on its own or with simple wine skates as an accompaniment to long friendly conversations.
5) Plays well in the “orchestra”
Kadarka can give exciting varietal wines, but it works well in blends as well. Have you never tasted Kadarka? Well, if you have tried ‘Bikavér’ (aka Bulls’ Blood), well, it is most likely that you have drunk Kadarka. Both in Eger and Szekszárd, in the two wine regions of Bikavér it is obligatory to include at least 5% Kadarka in the blend.
6) Less and less and less…
According to some written evidences long ago 70% of Hungarian vineyards were planted with Kadarka. Nowadays we grow more white grapes than black, and some international varieties gained importance like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2008 there were only 600 hectares under Kadarka, and by now (in 2021) we have even less, only 273 hectares altogether.
7) Save it from extinction!
Thank God most winemakers have realized – here and all over the world – that local grapes are grown on purpose. Indigenous (native) grapes adapt the soil, the climate and even our drinking habits in the best way. It is not by accident that our ancestors grew Kadarka in great quantity. It is worth rediscovering Kadarka and “going back to the roots”. It is time that you, winelovers should discover this exciting, amazing variety. Taste it, buy it and help us increase Kadarka vineyards again.
8) A primadonna with problems
So why did so many grapegrowers abandon Kadarka? Because it is a very sensitive grape and it needs extra care, infinite attention. Spring frost can destroy the entire crop, or if it survives, then autumn rainfall can cause damage.
9) Kunság, Szekszárd, Eger
Hungary has 22 wine regions, and 10 of them does not have visible amount of Kadarka (less than 0.1 hectare). We can find the most Kadarka vineyards in Kunság wine region (86,2 hektár), then in Szekszárd (75,4), followed by Eger (33). We can also mention Hajós–Baja (24,8), Villány (21) and Csongrád (11,9). In Balatonboglár, Bükk wine region, Etyek–Buda, Mátra, Pécs and Tolna there are less than 10 hectares.
10) Attack of the Clones?
The sensitivity of Kadarka did not discourage all winemakers. Some of them decided to work together with researchers and they managed to select the best and most resistant clones with the best characteristics. There is nothing like “manipulation of genes” here, the Kadarka clones are absolutely natural, what happened was just a long procedure of monitoring many different variants of the Kadarka grape to select the best ones. Like finding the “thoroughbred” horces to win the race.
More about the First International Kadarka Day on www.kadarkawineday.com
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