To get feedback on what is inside the bottle, it is running a series of ‘masterclasses’ in Budapest with a panel of wine experts and writers, the latest two looking at whether Bikavér can age and what the future might hold for Kadarka.

Naturally, high quality products also need appropriate, consistent packaging. In wine’s case, this of course means the bottle and the label. So, starting from September 2015, approximately twenty selected wines from the 2012 and 2013 vintages will be bottled in a new regional bottle, the result of several years of work.

The new regional bottle was presented to journalists at the recent Szekszárd wine festival held in the town along with an early tasting of some of the wines.

János Eszterbauer, chairman of the Guild of Szekszárd winemakers, gave some background to the project. Realising that trying to get all winemakers to work together would be an impossible task, a small group of winemakers had got together and started the idea of a common image for the Schillers of the region, with similar labelling and of course rules pertaining to the wine itself. ‘Fuxli’, the name given to these wines, had served as a kind of trial for greater cooperation amongst winemakers in the region. Other winemakers in the region subsequently joined the initiative.

The idea of a common regional bottle then followed and with it, a route to improving the image of the region. Zoltán Heimann, another local winemaker, explained what this meant. The bottle will only be used for Bikavér, Kékfrankos and Kadarka, with the aim of creating a regional style  which does not imitate other international styles. Thus, only local varieties and styles, i.e. Bikavér, would fit the bill. Given that these wines are all about elegance, spiciness and fruitiness, a Burgundy style bottle was chosen. Then, the bottle was developed, slightly taller and more elaborate, with the town of Szekszárd’s coat of arms and the word Szekszárd embossed on all four sides of the bottle.

The bottle has been relatively well received with about 80% of winemakers expressing their desire to use the bottle. Should they wish to use the bottle, they must have the wines approved by at least two-thirds of the Guild of twelve winemakers in the region in a blind tasting. The wines must, of course, be flawless, demonstrative of their terroir and representative of a single variety or style.

József Szabo, Sales Manager at the Orosháza glass factory producing the bottles, highlighted the advantages of having a regional bottle, pointing out that in contrast to the variety of packaging used currently around the region, such a consistent regional appearance will enable the wines to be recognised more easily by the consumer as a Szekszárd wine and will thus boost the region’s image in the international market.

Although these wines will only hit the shelves in two years’ time, we had a sneak preview of seventeen of the wines. Several of the wines were not shown, as the winemakers felt that they were not really in the right condition for tasting at that moment.

Tasting notes

Hetényi János Pincészet - Kadarka 2013  I 84 points
Quite restrained on the nose, herbal, anise, some cherry and spice on the nose, although not too fruit forward. Alcohol perhaps a little dominant. On the palate, crisp acidity, rounded tannins and good structure, with notes of cherry and spicy pepper and some chalkiness on the finish. Slightly oxidised. 

Mészáros Borház - Kadarka 2012  I 88 points
Aromas of black cherry, spice, a little toast, smoke and tobacco. On the palate, fresh acidity, fine-grained tannins and warming alcohol. Nicely balanced fresh, fruity wine with flavours of rich, ripe fruit, such as cherry and sour cherry, and liquorice. 

Eszterbauer Borászat - “Tanyamacska” Kékfrankos 2013  I 86 points
Fruity on the nose with some herbal bitterness, spice and pine nuts. Quite restrained but with warming characteristics. Rich on the palate, with lively acidity and rounded tannins. Juicy cherry, quite peppery, with slightly floral notes. 

Schieber Pinceszét - Kékfrankos 2013  I 89 points
Ripe and fruity on the nose, with sour cherry, spice, violet, tobacco and vanilla. Slightly tart acidity and grippy drying tannins. Flavours of ripe black fruit, such as cherry, bramble, strawberry and blueberry with notes of toast, chocolate and cigar box. Needs time. 

Heimann Családi Birtok - Kékfrankos 2013  I 94 points
Wine produced from 40-year-old vines. Dark fruits, rich cherry and blackberry, with some toast, cigar box and chalkiness. Lively acidity and well-integrated tannins. A rounded, well-structured, mouth-filling wine with juicy black fruit and spicy cloves. Should age well. 

Németh János Pincészet - Kékfrankos 2013  I 90 points
A wine of medium intensity with notes of dark fruits of the forest, charcoal, sour cherry, smoke, violet, a touch of pepper and some sweetness on the nose. Maybe a touch of oxidation. A well-rounded wine with big tannins. Flavours of dark fruits and pencil lead, spicy on the finish. 

Takler Borbirtok - Kékfrankos 2013  I 88 points
An extremely rich, intense wine. Very toasty, oak is perhaps a little dominant, jammy black fruit, toast, coffee and roasted nuts. Full bodied, with high, lively acidity and grippy tannins. A spicy wine with flavours of toast, wood, cloves, pepper and rich black fruit. Needs a few years for the oak to integrate. 

Sárosdi Pince - Kékfrankos 2012  I 80 points
On the nose, aromas of cherry, plum, toast and pepper, with a touch of nail polish and slight oxidation. A fruity wine with flavours of blood orange and cherry. Drying tannins and a spicy finish. 

Hetényi János Pincészet - Kékfrankos 2012  I 86 points
A big spicy wine with plenty of black fruit. Aromas of fruits of the forest and blueberry. Ripe but grippy tannins, slightly drying on the finish, high acidity and rather high alcohol. Flavours of black fruit and spice are mirrored on the palate. 

Szeleshát Szőlőbirtok - Kékfrankos 2012  I 89 points
Black fruit, toasty cappuccino and pencil box on the nose. Warming alcohol and ripe, toasty tannins, a little drying on the finish. Ripe flavours of plum and cherry with a slightly peppery note. Reminiscent of Bordeaux. 

Bodri Pincészet - Bikavér 2013  I 90 points
Intense aromas of ripe cherry plum and blackcurrant with some spice, chocolate and coffee. Concentrated and mouth filling, with juice ripe plum and cherry fruit and spice. Big but slightly drying tannins. Robust, warming alcohol. Should age well. Try again in two years! 

Ifj. Márkvárt János - Bikavér 2013  I 88 points
Slightly cool, medicinal note on nose with aromas of plum, cherry and herbs. Lively acidity, rounded, well-structured and elegant. Smooth and fruity with some slightly spicy notes. 

Heimann Családi Birtok - Bikavér 2013  I 92 points
Intense on the nose with aromas of blueberry, cherry and plum, with some spice and pencil lead. Full-bodied and creamy, with grippy but ripe tannins. Flavours of ripe black and red berry fruit and some tobacco.

Németh János Pincészet - Bikavér 2013  I 87 points
Dominant aromas of black and cherry fruit, charcoal, chalk and slightly herbal notes. Smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Fresh fruit, spice and toast on the palate. Very drinkable but a little short on the finish. 

Tüske Pince - Bikavér 2013  I 90 points
On the nose, toasty black fruit, slightly spicy and perfumed. Cooler character with chalk and eucalyptus. Alcohol a little dominant on the nose. Otherwise nicely balanced wine with juicy black fruit and some pomegranate. Light, well-integrated tannins and medium body. Kékfrankos-dominated.

Mészáros Borház - Bikavér 2013  I 84 points
Toasty black cognac fruit on the nose. High alcohol, grippy but well-integrated tannins. Young and a little closed. Not overtly fruity, but what there is, is somewhat jammy. Oak rather dominant and needs some more time to integrate.

Eszterbauer Borászat - “Tüke” Bikavér 2013  I 89 points
Aromas of cherry, blackberry and blueberry fruit. A bit earthy with cool chalky and mint notes. Ripe cherry fruit on the palate with some spice. Medium levels of tannin, but warming alcohol.