That was it . Friday afternoon, after a day spent in a plant near Budapest shooting pictures, I took the road with my rental Fiat to Villany, in the southern end of Hungary , near the croatian border . The trip across Hungary's central flatlands did not take too long, although the road system in Hungary has not been fully modernized and in some places, especially around Budapest, the pavement has suffered from too many trucks .
I was soon speeding on road 73, a two-lane highway going down to Mohacs near the southern border , and reached early enough the village of Dunaszekcso (sorry for not including the many different accents ) along the Danube to set up my tent there. The campsite had some flavors and decorations reminiscent of the socialist era, when crowds of easteuropeans from other socialist countries streamed into southern Hungary and the Balaton in summer . But I was the only camper there this evening , with a middle aged couple from Germany in a trailer . Four tzigans were playing music in the (quite empty) restaurant of the campsite .
I first tasted Polgar Zoltan wines ( and other hungarian wines ) at a tasting event at the hungarian embassy in Paris last june, in which a small group of hungarian vignerons took part , in presence of the hungarian ambassador . I liked the wines he proposed there , especially his red Kekfrankos 2003, his Cabernet Franc 2003, his Elixir Cuvée 2000 , a Cab.Fr.-Cab.Sauv. blend he makes only in the best years , and also his white Harslevelu 1999. I learned that this region had some sort of mediterranean climate and could produce great wines. Zoltan Polgar [ see picture above shot at the embassy], a dignified-looking white-bearded man , explained through a translator that this was a family estate where with his wife and two sons , he tried to keep the artisanal style for his wines, using as little chemicals as possible . When in Hungary,
I exchanged a few emails in german with sommelier Viktor Istvan Kiss, as other staff including Zoltan Polgar were at the Buda castle intnl. wine festival . My visit was scheduled for saturday , and he greeted me at the door . This was a rainy day, and yet, many people could be seen harvesting the grapes in the region . Polgar Pince ( Pince means cellar ) has also an activity as guesthouse/restaurant , that's where I met my guide , in a back street of Villany . He then drove me to, and showed me successively , the gastronomic cellar , the treasuries cellar , and the chai . The gastronomy cellar is a beautiful vaulted cellar where they hold banquets for special occasions and customers . The treasuries cellar is a collection of undergroung galleries with dozens of individual cellars closed with doors , where Polgar private clients can keep their wines in the ideal laying down conditions , temperature and humidity . The system here is rather original : You can buy a 10-year-lease cellar for 3 000 000 Forints ( about 13 200 Euro ), with a 80 bottles/year allotment .The price covers the rent plus the 80 bottles you get every year for 10 years and which , if you keep them here , will age in perfect conditions . The names on the doors indicate a wide range of corporate and wealthy clients , some banks , even the group Abba , that my guide says can reunite to drink the wine...
We walk then into long galleries with lines of casks full of maturing wine . One of them opens into a higher underground room with stainless steel vats ( 200 hectoliter each ), made by Fekoral , which are used for carbonic maceration .
For some reason we speak about Cabernet Franc in the Villany region . He says Villany has a total vineyard surface of 4000-5000 hectares , of wich only 200 hectares Cabernet Franc .
This grape variety is one of the Polgar Pince varieties ( tasted it in Paris ), and people from Chateau Margaux , he adds , came here and when they tasted it, they found that it had a superb expression on the Villany terroir, maybe even ideal for this variety . Speaking about the 62 hectares Polgar estate , he says it can be traced back to 5-6 generations . Under the previous socialist regime of course , no serious work was possible . All the grapes went to the local Kombinatt . As we enter the vathouse , he points to the first vats , which are for Kekoporto grape variety, gives a light and fruity wine similar to the Beaujolais Nouveau sold each november . 2 presses , one pneumatic ( for reds ) and one vacum ( for whites ) for a gentle handling of the grapes . Stainless vats are temperature-controlled , whites at 16°C reds at 27-28°C . Press juice is kept separately , as the best juice , while the must is pressed at 0,2 bar . Some casks are stored up on a traditional hungarian wooden platform
[ see picture on right ] . This is the first time I see such a wooden storage facility . Old foudres for maturation of the wines ( the red and black casks ), not for a woody taste . In these foudres : Kekfrankos, Kadarka, Kekoporto ( indigenous hungarian grape varieties ) . We walk into a room with 1/2 muids casks : Syrah , Cabernet Franc , Cabernet Sauvignon , Pinot Noir . The wine usually stays 9 (for Chardonnay) to 24 months in casks .
__1 First wine : Kadarka Siller rosÃ© 2004 . Made on a technique brought by the german tribes wich populated the area long time ago . Simple wine , not to be drunk alone , but with a suab or hungarian dish , or with fresh cheese . 12,5Â° .
__2 Kekfrankos 2004, from a cask with a wine thief . The millesime was not the best, he says . 2003 was much better .The names comes from Napoleon's army : French soldiers had then special issued money , some was blue , some was red , that they could use in the occupied territories . In hungary , they had discovered this generous red wine and wanted to pay with the red (smaller value) money, but the peasants always asked for the blue money (higher value) for this type of wine . That's why the Blaufrankish , or Kekfrankos name . My notes at
the embassy for this wine say : nice wine very pleasant to drink . Dark red with light violet reflections . 3300 bottles/hectare only for the 2003 millesime .
__3 Pinot Noir 2003 , from a cask . Clear colour . My notes say : 2 months in this cask . I don't remember exactly but it may mean the wine has recently gone into this cask from a foudre or a 1/2 muid . Nice wine when the wood will have been integrated . Will stay in casks another year and will be on the market in 18 months .
__4 Cabernet Franc 2004 . still young . I like its nose .
__5 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 . From one of the best plots around here . Very nice , rounded and generous . Will be sold mid-october 2005 . Colour is dark red , close to black . Plot on a 15% slope , exposed on south . My notes about the 2003 I tasted in Paris say : A little woody . Very, very nice wine . warmful .
__6 Syrah 2004, young vines . 2nd harvest (cuvée) . Actually, a 90% Syrah and 10% Kadarka blend . The Kadarka brings strength and stability to Syrah . Animal aromas, wild berries .
Polgar Pince :
H-7773 Villany , Hunyadi u. 19
Phone :(36) 72 492 053