Jan 15 2017
There is no doubt Stephanie takes the variety, Hárslevelű serious, perhaps puts it even over Furmint. Trained winemaker from the Loire and Bordeaux, who came for a three months of practice to Tokaj, but fell in love with the region and her future husband, Zsolt. She did shape Hegyalja quite a bit, being a winemaker at Disznókő and consultant for several smaller and bigger wineries, while now running her own estate, Kikelet in Tarcal.
The Hungarian word, Kikelet is somewhat hard to translate. For me it has numerous meanings: springtime, hatching, rebirth/growth, awakening. Yet easy to pronounce without difficult letters. Talking about letters, Stephanie has trouble with the Hungarian way to pronounce words with an “h” in it.
Stéphanie with her husband Zsolt
The awakening of Hárslevelű in Tarcal and beyond…
Tarcal famously has a higher loess content, mix of red and white in colour. Loess mixed with clay and brown forest floor are the dominating profile around the hill.
The loess is usually stable until it doesn´t become wet, and at that point it does stay fairly hard. Hárslevelű tends to be finer in drier years, reckons Stephanie. Loess soil is also very much favouring the aromatic variety. Compared to the Furmint, which is neutral, Hárslevelű has more pronounced fruitiness and rounder acidity, less crosshair and precision than the Furmint. Yet the “Hárs” is very playful and gentle. In the past the clones were selected for aszú wines and for the dry ones you rather need loose bunches and smaller berries. The harvest time is so crucial for the variety, since it can lose acidity quickly. There are several places, which are outstanding for Hárs, like Tarcal and Tokaj, but vineyard Betsek in the town of Mád also boosts great examples.
While the building of the winery dates back to 200 years ago, the Kikelet Winery is constantly innovating sharing modernistic approach with a certain rusticity. The “Flavour Workshop” (Íz Műhely in Hungarian) got established to show and savour the local food products.
To describe Stephanie and her wines I would probably say: fun, smiling and pragmatic. Especially the later points to her approach as well when it comes to crafting Hárslevelű & co.
Hárslevelű 2013 sparkling wine Brut (5 g/l RS)
Light lemon colour with small bubbles. Floral, spice, delightful citrus, lime tree, fresh nose with low autolytic character.
Dry crisp, perfume Hárslevelű, visible through delicate, smooth, ripe honey notes. A hint of nutty finish, linear note. 12 months lees ageing and only 2400 bottles are made.
Furmint Hárslevelű Váti 2014
Medium light lemon colour. Waxy, perfume, lime tree, fresh floral note. Light body, dry, waxy, smoky, quince, fresh squeezed pear juice.
Elegant, nutty, floral, perfume with a hint of beeswax. Good finish, perhaps due to the vintage some ethereal, glossy character.
Drink now – 2020
Hárslevelű Lónyai 2015
Pale lemon colour. Floral some waxiness, pronounced aromatic character, followed by lime tree. Perfume, ripe pear, juicy nectarine and orange peel.
Velvet mid palate, juicy, fresh, delicate, bright towards the end.
Drink now – 2022
Hárslevelű Kassai 2015
Medium deep, lemon colour. A hint of floral, lessy touch with bright perfume. Juicy and vibrant on the palate with a squeeze of lime and lemon juice. It is all about the citrus notes here. Dash of pear drop and candied fruit, followed by a tiny bit of fruit yoghurt and smooth ripeness.
Drink now – 2021
Hárslevelű Váti 2015
Pale, slightly closed nose. Smoky, mineral driven character. Almond, nutty with a hint of floral note, elegant but bold at the same time.
Acid, refreshing, vibrant, juicy pear, lemon, but linear, quite sturdy.
Szamorodni 2012 (sweet)
Golden colour. Quince, apricot and floral notes, fairly aromatic szamorodni. Rich, oily, sweet mouthfeel with elegant and smooth texture. Plenty of pear, dill, orange peel, underlined by quince. Rich finish.
Drink now – 2025
Aszú 6 puttonyos 2010
Golden colour. Smoke, dash of mineral note, followed by quince, dill and plenty of spiciness. Floral, delicate, quite feminine touch, showing orange peel, soft mid palate, yet still crisp acidity and smooth mid palate. Long finish with good, sweet core and herbal touch. Maceration of aszú berries took place (as always) in fermenting must, 151 g/l RS.
Drink now – 2030