The three of us with three bottles of wine – Spontaneously…

…we sat down to talk on the upper level of the Lánchíd shop. Three winemakers, Zoltán Heimann Jnr, Attila Gábor Németh and Attila Tálos with three bottles of wine. Well, originally with six, but at the end, three remained and it also became late in the evening. 

Attila Tálos (50)

A maths-physics teacher from Pápa, a winemaker and bartender in Balatonszőlős and a wine merchant in Budapest. One of the founders of Bortársaság. In his winery, in Balatonszőlős’ Gellavilla, he originally made wines from two hectares. His first wine, a screw cap Olaszrizling he made with the assistance of Béla and Bandi, made it onto the shelves in 2004. Today, he harvests from six hectares, out of which four are old-vine Olaszrizling. During this time, the estate went through at least five changes in style, but now he feels he’s got to where he wanted, or almost has, in terms of design and wine style.

Organically cultivated grapes, a small cellar on the side of the Gella Hill, manual harvesting and winemaking.


Gellavilla Hat szüret 2016, Balatonszőlős


AT: I originally brought two Olaszrizlings, three are still being made now at the winery but I wished to make such a traditional style wine from our four hectares that is natural and not heavy but substantial. It was made from organically grown grapes, almost without any tools out in the vineyard, as was the way in the old times. It’s called Hat szüret (Six harvests) because we harvested it at six different times between September 27 and October 28. We made it in small barrels and tanks separately, blended them at the end with my colleague, Anti. Everything fermented spontaneously. Luckily it ferments in the already cool cellar without the need for cooling, because we have no technology, and this way, with no temperature control at all in the 200-year-old press house, I didn’t make this style compromise. But tell me what my Rizling is like? Is it good? Or do you think we should do a tarnished Olaszrizling as well?

Na, de mondjátok, milyen a rizlingem? Jó ez így? Vagy kéne még egy „veretes” olaszt csinálni?

ZH: : I like this Hat szüret very much and I’d happily drink it anytime. For me, this is what the new Balaton Olaszrizling style is like and is what I’ve often been tasting lately from lots of experimental Balaton winemakers. It places the emphasis on acidity and good drinkability, it’s taut, exciting and it moves towards lightness and not being big. While by all means it’s not a technological wine.

AGN: Hat szüret is good! I like it too. The creaminess and the bit of cake suit it. I’d stick to one wine. I don’t think Olaszriziling should be chiselled any further, rather Kékfrankos should be.

AT: I’d like to make a delicious, simple wine. It’s a bit of a romantic decision; I seek the memory of childhood harvests in Zala.

AGN: For me, the Hat szüret is like that now. If you feel you’ve found it, then you shouldn’t change it for a while. Stick to it.



Zoltán Heimann Jnr. (30)

Solymár-Szekszárd grape grower, winemaker, accordion player, and for a month – a proud, practicing dad. He’s learned and practiced the craft in Rheingau, Languedoc, Tuscany, South Tyrol (Alto Adige), Yarra Valley, USA, Pannonhalma, Sopron, Eger and Zala. He is the third generation of a Szekszárd winemaking family. He concentrates on the shift of emphasis: he aims to make what until now was the wine style of his parents, Ági and Zoli, to become a common Szekszárd style in which the key player is Kadarka.
He spent his fourth harvest at home and he’s taken on an active role in the decade-long Kadarka experiments.


Heimann Céh Kereszt Kadarka 2016, Szekszárd


ZH: There’s been a conscious quest from the beginning with us. However, these days we don’t simply experiment, but we’ve also shifted the focus. Now, it’s mostly fermentation and extraction that interests us. This year, for the first time, we fermented large quantities spontaneously, we used whole bunches together with the stems, with exciting results. The Kadarka and the Kékfrankos are the most exciting, I hope not just for us.

I’ve brought a Kadarka, I wish to raise the variety’s level of appreciation with it. It often comes to my mind that József Bock once told me that anyone who has more than 5% of Kadarka is sure to face bankruptcy. Now, we have more than 10% and it’s one of our most important varieties. My parents started clonal selection in 2005 and 2006, we had 30 experimental clones, out of which we’ve selected seven and treated them separately and with four are the most favoured according to our current knowledge.

After I returned, I became the innovator of the family:

Frigyes Bott’s 2013 Kadarka was the first inspiration and so was Burgundy. Prompted by this, the Céh Kereszt was put into new barrels in 2015, while for the 2016 I chose mainly lightly toasted barrels from Burgundy. Breaking with family tradition, this wine was also fermented spontaneously. Kadarka ferments surprisingly quickly this way. The nice clones make a nice Kadarka, in the right arc barrels… but tell me, what is it like for you?

AT: Violet nose, subtly dry. Incredibly enjoyable! Exciting, unique, zesty. For me, it’s really brave that you fermented it spontaneously. The spontaneous vs. controlled fermentation question excites me a lot these days. It really suits Kadarka.

AGN: Kadarka is getting more and more popular and it almost has Pinot Noir status. I think it even resembles Pinot. It became an elegant and distinctive wine, with great direction.

HZ: Finally, it’s getting acknowledged and purchased abroad, it’s exciting on the world market in the same way Kékfrankos is.



Attila Gábor Németh (45)

A winemaker from Gyöngyöstarján; the ‘Chuck Norris’ of artisanal winemaking. He does all the work by his own hands. He makes natural wine in his small cellar without any technology in two wine regions, in the Mátra (on nine hectares) and in Tokaj. He’s been working with Bortársaság for 16 years. He’s elusive, hard to get to know and unavoidable. Throughout the years, from him we’ve perhaps tasted the most genius and extreme wine and we were really happy with the Diós or Veresföld wines.

Chardonnay, Sárgamuskotály, Syrah and now a Kékfrankos.   


N.A.G. Föld és ég Kékfrankos 2016, Mátra


AGN: I have nine hectares in the Mátra. I currently have a ‘garage’ for winemaking. I have to ponder over how I can adjust to it: as the temperature decreases, fermentation slows down. That’s why I changed over to controlled yeast two years ago. Earlier everything fermented spontaneously but I don’t regard this as the main point of artisanal winemaking. It’s hard to define. If you taste my Kékfrankos, you’ll understand. I seek uniqueness. I defined artisan winemaking for myself; that I’m an artisan winemaker because I press by hand and because I get into physical contact with the grapes. Responsibility is even bigger here, the wine cannot have any faults, nothing can be covered by being artisanal. I skipped 16 years with Kékfrankos. I’d expected something from it that I didn’t get. But now I did. It’s a great background wine; it’s exciting in a way that it’s not pushy, for example along with a dinner… ...

I’d had problems with not thinking about the consumers. For example, I knew that the acidity was too much but I didn’t do anything against it. In the spirit of natural wine, I didn’t want to decrease it. But I realised that I’d have to cut it down. This doesn’t mean adjusting the acidity in the wine, but rather a more considered harvest. One might try to be avant-garde on the other hand, and I have to create a style that I feel to be my own while also keeping the customers in mind.

AT: I like the kind of freedom you make your wines with. Pure, exciting and rustic in a good sense. I like that it has the colourfulness that is characteristic of you.

ZH: A real orgy on the nose. I can smell botrytis, spices… I’d like to tell you something: we’ve just got to know each other but I was really looking forward to it. You were in a song by the band Belga. I studied in the States, I always listened to that… even my foreign roommates were singing. Okay, only the “Chardonnay, Chardonnay part” but still… I cannot boast any such things yet.

AGN: Beside the nose, I also like its zesty acids… The Mátra soil helps achieve both. When I started making wine in 2000, I wished to make everything vineyard selected, but now I consider the expression of my own style more important.

AT: But does anyone need to be too over-conscientious about what to emphasise? Like a vineyard. Maybe, what’s happening now, we can call the Renaissance era, when one has to remain open and free for a long time.