The best red wine: Vesztergombi Alpha, Szekszárd, 2017
Sebestyén Nagy winewriter’s Top 100 list
Sebestyén Nagy is one of the most influential Hungarian winewriters. His unique style of writing is unmistakable and style luckily meets a sophisticated and – most of all – unbiased palate. At the end of 2022 he posted his Top 100 list. The No1 is Mária, a white blend from St. Andrea Winery, Eger, while the 2nd – hence the best red wine – is Alpha 2017 by Vesztergombi Cellar in Szekszárd. Below is what he wrote about the wine.
Csaba Vesztergombi likes making great wines, he has already had some. But when he first introduced me Alpha, it was obvious, it could be felt that this one was going to be somewhat outstanding of the great ones. Not just because Csabi’s eye glasses were shining in a different way, not just because of the way he asked “So, what do you think? Is it drinkable?” But also because that wine had the attributes of a great wine back then already, when it was just a kid, and because this wine already had that natural charm reflecting harmony, which is typical of only the really-great-wines among the simply great wines.
When I first tasted, it was in a stainless steel tank, and we met one and a half years later, it was already bottled then and had a modest “Deus” name on its tag on the shelf as working title. And finally I could taste when it was already available – under its final name, Alpha. It was clear at the very first tasting that this wine was one of the best top red wines of Vesztergombi Cellar (and the whole country), and it has matured a lot since then: besides the several kinds of red and black berry fruits some underbrush and tobacco notes appeared, the tannins got softer, the wine became more layered, more complex…, well, a little more…, because the fact is that this complexity and layered character had already been there for several bright moments right from the beginning. The barrel spices are also really fine, the subtle cocoa powder and cinnamon tone adds some more colour to the total picture – but it seems that in this wine nothing can overpower the main character of the wine: that it is dense, polished, ripened, harmonious and complex.
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, more or less equal proportion. Csaba likes the international grape varieties and likes packing them into the Great Wine, while others keep polishing the more local grape, Kékfrankos. It is needless to “decide” who is right, we’d rather enjoyed the multicolour face of the wine region: on this Top 100 list Kékfrankos wines (and Bikavér blends including Kékfrankos) from Szekszárd occupy the most places, while the best red wine is a blend of French varieties from Szekszárd. Is there a problem here? Not at all.
(Cover photo by Sebestyén Nagy)
(Translated by Ágnes Németh)