The seventh seven – Sauska Cuvée 7 Siklós and Villány 2013

The 2013 vintage of the Sauskas’ two flagship wines first arrived last autumn: following a tasting held together with the winery and an extremely successful pre-order period, another few months of bottle ageing followed from the middle of October. The seventh debuted at the Gourmet Festival and now they’re returning to our shelves. The wines are even more beautiful, although our notes from the first tasting still stand. As winemaker, Ildikó Markó put it: “2013 is rich in detail, harmonious and full of personality.”  

This is what we wrote in September 2016.

 

7+1

The story started with the pre-sale of the 2012 vintage, and we wished to immerse ourselves deeper into the “sevens” since we believe that in a couple of years, it will be even more important to look back at the style and personality of certain vintages. The wine goes through several hands, from the pruning during the previous winter, to the first shoots to bottling – this year, we decided to follow up and show that path. We talked to the key players of the 7+1: in the vineyards, next to the tractor, on the terrace, in the bottling plant or even in the kitchen over a glass of 2013 C7, with everyone at a place which their work mostly connects them to. From the stories, the picture of what 2013 was like in Villány and Siklós slowly came together – to give a subjective but complete picture about the wines of the pre-sale.

 

Péter Pohl - Estate manager

 

Péter manages both estates; he commutes between Tokaj and Villány. The 2013 harvest was especially memorable for him and Stefanie Sauska as the icing of the cake was their wedding. “The Cuvée 7 is our masterpiece. If we don’t have it from a given year, it means we were defeated by nature, but when we do, it shows exactly what we know about viticulture, planting, yield control, blending, barrels, harmony and balance. And in the meantime, every vintage becomes unnoticeably intertwined into our life.” 

 


 

Norbert Wéber - Viticulturist 


 

Norbi is the viticulturist, and what the raw material is going to be like depends on him (and the vintage). “There’s a lot of talk about biodynamic and organic winemaking, and that’s fine. However, it’s important to see things in correlation with other things so that a complex ecological system can develop in the long run. It’s the responsibility of every winery to buy forests alongside the vineyards that they don’t cut down, to plant fruit trees and bushes in order to keep the healthy and rich fauna that is also important for the grapes but in fact is important from the aspect of our whole lives. It’s also a great thing that we sprinkle straw at the foot of the vines instead of herbicides, which is the same as what our ancestors came up with, because innovation sometimes mean looking back into the past.” 

 


 

Ildikó Markó - Winemaker

 

As a winemaker Ildikó is always part of the Cuvée 7 story from the beginning: “I'll never forget that on March 15, 2013, we left for a tasting in Bordeaux in heavy snow. By that time, we could already feel that the two wines’ future character would be defined by the symbiosis of the vineyards and the varieties and not the different proportions of the three Bordeaux varieties. On that night, following the tasting of two dozen wines from the barrels, it became clear that even for the French the three ingredients aren’t always three and often only two because balance and elegance are a lot more important for them than clichés. Upon arriving back, we declared: Villány and Cabernet Sauvignon, Siklós is Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We saw the real faces of the two wines at once which was a big defining moment for all of us. From the previous year the aim was an early harvest and more sensitive barrel use. However, in the great heat everything ripened early, the grapes became concentrated and lacked water in 2012, so we could only put this into practice in 2013. Both became beautiful, detailed and harmonious, full of personality and delicious fruit.

 


 

Vali Költőné - Head of the viticulture group 

 

Vali spends her time in the vineyard and she directs the work. We browse through her checked note book together in which she notes down everything in minute detail, even things like ‘shovelling the snow’ – in April. “In 2013, everything went as it should, and we even had time for planting and grafting. Nature was a bit late with the spring snow but bud burst happened nicely. The foliage work started at the beginning of May. In August there was a heat wave, it says in the book in capital letters and with an exclamation mark – during those times, we worked in the vineyard at dawn and in the late afternoon. The harvest started without problems, although the rains in October caused a bit of brain racking. We picked the raw material for Cuvée 7 in the middle of and at the end of October.

 


 

Sándor Tisza - 

The tractor driver

 

Sándor, or ‘Sanyi bácsi’ as he is know has just become a pensioner, so he plans to stay on board for another 20 years as he’s bursting with energy. His favourite vineyard is Ördögárok, as there are tons of challenges. “I’m more into beer but I’m happy to have a good Cuvée 7 anytime with a ‘sticky stew’. I’m just about to become a pensioner but I might possibly sign a contract for another 20 years. This is because the people are nice here and one doesn’t have to get anxious about anything. I only remember the good things from 2013.” 

 


 

Balázs Hága - 

Winemaker

 

Balázs used to be our colleague at Bortársaság. He spent a long time in New Zealand, then the family came into the foreground and he returned home.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that returning home to Hungary would actually open up the world for me – but this is exactly what happened. I got involved with the work in the luckiest period, during the time when the preparations for the blends was going on. I started picturing the style and character of the vineyards in my head after the tasting of several barrels of wine and a couple of heady days. Merlot unquestionably belongs to Siklós while Cabernet Sauvignon is at its best in Villány. Cabernet Franc evidently enjoys being in both places, so for the Cuvée 7, we selected from them both. I’ve encountered such organised savvy here in the winery which gives me unlimited freedom: we talk a lot about elegance, balance, more restrained tannins and we know the road ahead to achieve them, whenever the vintage allows us.” 

 


 

Juli Futó - Oenology assistant

 

Juli is everywhere, from the grapes arriving to the cellar to bottling. She samples, measures, tastes and she’s still smiling even at the end of the day. “All the grapes arriving at the cellar deserve the maximum attention, but there are times when you know that it’s the turn of a special plot. No matter how tired you are, the anticipation of what the result will be like gives you the drive. We always adjust the harvest and fermentation to the variety. In 2013, due to the rainy October, the importance of the role of selection escalated. We treat the crop of the first class parcels separately up to the point of blending to see what can come out of them. For the blending, we take a sample from every barrel and the final composition is decided through several steps. Although I spend a lot of time in the cellar, I like going out into the vineyards, where I’m always reminded where things start out from.”  

 


 

Gergely Csonka - Chef


 

Gergő is the chef. He stands in the kitchen, with a massive granite worktop in front of him, while we inquisitively sit on the other side. He talks about ingredients and textures with piles of passion.

“For the livelier acidity of the vintage, I think a white roast made from veal poached in red wine, sliced up thinly and cold would be a perfect match. Veal and lamb liver, lamb trotters with beluga lentils, shufnoodles and boiled cabbage. Swabian-inspired Hungarian dishes with a touch of world cuisine. Seasonal, fresh and local: that’s the most suitable, that’s how we like it.” 

 

 

Siklós 2013 Villány 2013

65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 14.0%

Acidity: 5.8 g/l

Time of harvest: October 9-26, 2013

Ageing: 17 months in French barrels out of which 32% were first-fill  

Time of bottling: June 2015

Number of bottles: 15,700 bottles

 

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot

Alcohol: 14.5%

Acidity: 5.5 g/l

Time of harvest: October 9-26, 2013

Ageing: 17 months in French barrels, out of which 36% were first-fill

Time of bottling: June 2015

Number of bottles: 23,100 bottles

The Merlot is unequivocally Siklós with this spicy, fruity variety providing more than half of the blend. Alongside it, Cabernet Franc is an almost must-have ingredient, partly because the wine region made Cabernet Franc its flagship variety, but also because it makes the Siklós seven more characteristic and more dynamic. Deep ruby colour with a youthful, purple rim. The nose is full of red berry fruit, mainly cherry and a touch of plum. Tight, zesty, elegant.  

Cabernet Sauvignon is best in Villány. The Cabernet Franc enjoys being in both places, so that cannot be missed out of the mix. Merlot appears more as a spice in the Villány seven. Dark ruby colour with a black core. Slowly opening aromas, black fruits, spicy, peppery, tobacco notes. Intense, round and silky palate.