Merlot, 1969. Villany| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | November 1983

Hungarian wines are best known for the Tokay (Sweet dessert type late harvest wine, of equal fame as the French Sauternes and German Trockenbeerenauselese). Yet, some remarkable white wines are produced in Hungary (Club Selection Oct. ’75) and an occasional red has shown interest. (Club Selection Oct. 81) This month’s wine is another red that totally surprised me.

It comes from the wine growing region of Villany, in the angle of the Danube and Drava rivers, near the southern border of Hungary. Vineyards were planted in this region during Roman times. Modern progress is also at home here. One of the largest model vineyards and grafted shoot nurseries in Hungary is located near Villany.

The chief product of this region is Villany red wine. Our Merlot is one of these. This second most important grape of Bordeaux, is among the other red wine grapes grown in this region.

Typically the Merlot grape produces a red wine that is characterised by a claret style, full bodied, soft, without the early harshness that a Cabernet grape imparts to a claret. When young it can have a herbaceous aroma, but on ageing it develops complexities and flavors that complement the other grapes used in Bordeaux. The Pomerol and St. Emilion wines are predominantly made from the Merlot grape.

Alexander McNally, director of The Heublein Premiere National Auction of Rare Wines, called our wine “The Eastern Block Pomerol, a flower that bloomed in adversity, and came to us in 1983”.

The interesting thing about this wine is its age and the complexities it has started developing.

The tasting notes of the Heublein Expert Wine Panel, September 22, 1982, as they appeared in the auction catalog, read: “Clear deep purple-ruby robe; appealing, balanced wood and fruit nose; soft texture, full bodied, tasty with fruit and wood finished lightly laced with tannin.” When I tasted this wine at the preview and was successful at acquiring it at the auction, additional comments were in order regarding the description.

Our wine, as you receive it today has developed a garnet red color with slight orange to the edge. It has a fragrant deep nose with complexity and some “sweetness”. It has a long deep bouquet. The taste is smooth and soft, with a silky texture. Medium to full body, with perfect balance. It is approaching its peak of development. Lots of fruit which blends well with the ageing complexities that have developed. Some tannin. Serve with mild sauced beef or veal dishes, or with cheese after the meal.

Cellaring Notes: Ready, but can be aged another 3 to 5 years.

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