Wine Grapes book

KADARKA in the “Wine Bible”

Wine Grapes – Excerpt From: Robinson, Jancis; Harding, Julia; Vouillamoz, Jose.

“Wine Grapes (9780062325518)”. Apple Books.


Variety of uncertain origin producing gentle, fresh reds in Eastern Europe.

Berry colour: black

PRINCIPAL SYNONYMS: Branicevka (Croatia), Cadarcă or Cadarcă Neagră (Romania), Cadarcă de Miniş (Romania), Fekete Budai (Hungary), Gamza * (Bulgaria), Gamza de Varna (Bulgaria), Gomza (Croatia), Gumza, Gymza * (Bulgaria), Kadarka Kék, Kallmet (Albania), Lugojană (Romania), Skadarka (Croatia, Serbia), Törökszőlő (Hungary), Varnenska Gimza (Bulgaria)”


Kadarka is said to have been introduced to Hungary from the Balkans, either by Serbians, which fits with Kadarka being the Slavic name for Scutari, a lake (also known as Skadar) between Montenegro and Albania, and with the fact that the variety was once cultivated under the synonym Skadarka in Croatia and Serbia (Levadoux 1956; Galet 2000; Rohály et al. 2003), or by Turks, hence its synonym Törökszőlő (‘Turkish grape’). It is conceivable that it made its way to Hungary via Bulgaria, where it is still widely planted under the synonym Gamza, and where it is considered to be indigenous. It is also said to be indigenous to the region of Miniş near Arad in western Romania, where the first sweet Aszú-style red wine was made from shrivelled Cadarcă grapes in 1744 (Dejeu 2004). The exact origin of Kadarka remains unknown but it lies somewhere within the Balkan-Pannonian area.

Kadarka was used to breed BÍBORKADARKA, PROBUS and RUBINTOS.


Kadarka is sometimes said to originate from Asia Minor (Dejeu 2004) but there is no evidence to support this hypothesis.


Productive, late budding and ripening. Compact bunches of medium-sized berries. Good drought resistance but sensitive to low winter temperatures and susceptible to botrytis bunch rot. Best suited to loess soils and bushvine growth.


Statistically Kadarka has been in decline in Hungary in recent decades but it is still popular with consumers for its medium body, gentle tannins, fresh acidity, lightly spicy aromas and overall elegance, with some similarity to PINOT NOIR (Rohály et al. 2003). Nor is it without champions among producers, even though it is sometimes difficult to ripen fully. Wines are not typically deep in colour and Kadarka is also very good for rosé. Cultivated in most of Hungary’s wine regions, its heartland is in the south, in Szekszárd and Villány, but it is quite widely planted in Eger, where it is used in the red blend called Egri Bikavér or Bull’s Blood of Eger. However, BLAUFRÄNKISCH, known as Kékfrankos in Hungary, is easier to grow and vinify and has therefore been gaining ground at the expense of Kadarka. Recommended producers include Dúzsi, Eszterbauer, Heimann, Takler, Ferenc Vesztergombi and Péter Vida in Szekszárd and St Andrea in Eger. Total plantings of Kadarka in Hungary in 2008 were down to 666 hectares (1,646 acres) but plantings are likely to increase, particularly in Szekszárd, as progress is made in clonal research to find healthier plant material. Some older vines such as those in Oszkár Maurer’s centenarian vineyard over the border in Serbia show better disease resistance and produce more richly flavoured wines.

Under the name Gamza, the variety is widely planted in Bulgaria (3,169 ha/7,831 acres in 2009), particularly in Vidin, Pleven and Suhindol in the north, and it is also found in the Republic of Macedonia. As Kallmet, this variety is one of the more important red varieties in Albania, planted mainly around Lake Skadar, which straddles the border with Montenegro in the north, and to a lesser extent in the centre of the country. Arbëri, for example, produce a varietal wine. Romania’s 47 ha (116 acres; 2008) are in the west of the country, both in the southerly region of Oltenia and further north – closer to Hungary – in Miniş Măderat (eg Wine Princess).




108 old kadarka vineyard
Eszterbauer Kadarka in Szekszárd from a 108 year old vineyard (illustration by

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