by Caroline Gilby MW
Heumann is a small wine estate in the Siklos sub-region at the western end of Villány, owned by Evelyne and Erhard Heumann, a Swiss-German couple.
Their story dates back to 1973 when they met on a greyhound bus in Las Vegas, at a time when Erhard admits that all he knew about wine was 2 litre Lambrusco, though a career in banking meant he gradually learned more. The link with Hungary began in 1992 when Evelyne’s father came to Villány to look into setting up a chimney-making business. The chimney project didn’t work out, but he came home as owner of a small vineyard, where the family built a holiday home and fell in love with Hungary. They made their first wine as a hobby in 1996 but by 2003, they had accumulated 3 hectares and decided wine had to become professional. Evelyne moved to Hungary while Erhard continued to work in banking to pay the bills until retiring in 2011. Today the winery has 10ha of its own and 6ha rented from another expat. The winery is small and functional in a nearby industrial zone – no money wasted on fancy tasting rooms. And Evelyne finally became a Hungarian citizen last year – partly because fighting the bureaucracy as a foreigner was a constant headache. Their son has recently qualified as an oenologist too, so family succession is lined up.
The Heumanns believe in Cabernet Franc as a flagship for the region and particularly feel it shines on the limestone bedrock of the Siklos area. It’s also just a little bit cooler here than the main part of Villány which brings a touch of elegance rather than all-out-power to the wines. And they believe in letting their terroir shine through subtle use of Hungarian oak – often 500l rather than barriques, and used up to 4 times. Erhard is hugely proud of his award-winning Kékfrankos Reserve while Evelyne is not a fan of the grape at all. They have split opinions on their whites too. Perhaps not surprisingly Bavarian Erhard adores his Rhine Riesling while Evelyne much prefers Chardonnay – in both cases made without any oak. Their juicy Kadarka is intriguing – made with the lees of Portugieser to give it an extra dimension.