by Caroline Gilby MW

Zsigmond Teleki was born in Villány in southern Hungary in 1854.  We, in the wine industry, should probably know more about him than we do because he was the saviour of the European wine industry. He realised that grafting vines to American rootstocks could save them from the ravages of Phylloxera that was destroying the European wine industry in the 19th Century. He developed the first crossings that became the famous 5BB and SO4 rootstocks that were also able to cope with the underlying chalky soils of the Villány region (and a common feature of so many top wine growing regions).

Today the winery founded by Teleki lives on in the Csányi in Villány. Csányi is the biggest winery and vineyard owner in the region with around 350 hectares including some of the most famous “dulo” or single sites such as Jammertal, Kopár, Ordogarok and Konkoly.   László Romsics arrived as CEO early this year and has ambitious plans for the winery, “My aim is to reduce oak and extraction,” he says adding, “I want a bit more elegance and harmony instead of power, and will be focussing on intensity and length.” In a region where the local market admires high alcohol, tannins and extraction, this is refreshing to hear, and undoubtedly given the international success of the winery where Romsics previously worked, he understands global commercial appeal.

Villány is also often trapped by a mantra of super-low yields being essential for quality, but this is one area for research according to Romsics, who will be looking for a better balance between biological and physiological ripeness. Currently the winery only produces reds, (with a little rosé especially as base wine for Romsics’ beloved sparkling wines), though whites are in the plan for the future.  The first vintage Romsics could influence was 2015 and recent tastings indicate bright, fruity Portugieser, Kékfrankos and Shiraz, while Cabernet Franc is promising but still needs time. Looking back at more mature vintages, Cabernet Francs from 2012 and 2011 are starting to show lovely complexity, especially Kövilla 2011, matched of course with the right food such as a richly tasty Hungarian Pörkölt or mushroom paprikash.