10 things to learn about Kadarka grape
The pieces of information below are meant for beginner winelovers. Professionals are invited to click on KNOWLEDGE HUB on this website.
1. It is not diluted!
If you order a glass of Kadarka, you might be surprised at the colour: Kadarka wines are not as dark as for example Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Kadarka wines have vivid, pale ruby colour, since the skin of Kadarka berries contain less colour. In this respect Kadarka is similar to the famous Burgundian grape, Pinot Noir.
2. Spicy and lovely
So what is Kadarka like? The colour is light ruby, the nose is spicy, rich, fruity. On the palate it is a delicate, fruit driven wine with medium body, refreshing acidity and low tannins.
3. Drink it young? Misbelief!
Kadarka is said to be an everyday wine and it is considered to be consumed young, within one or two years. However, due to the careful selection of the best clones (variants of the variety), some winemakers can create more complex, more serious Kadarka wines with ageing potential. Quality can also be increased by keepeng yield low – they leave less bunches on the vine, thus the remaining bunches tend to be more concentrated and richer in flavour.
4. Partner of paprika
Due to its spicy character Kadarka pairs well with dishes seasoned with paprika – the typical Hungarian, protected origin spice. Kadarka has lighter body and low tannins, thus it is not recommended to accompany venison or beef. Kadarka is also perfect by itself or with pub grubs, wine nibbles and ideal for long discussions in good company.
5. Plays well in the “orchestra”
Kadarka can give exciting varietal wines, but it works well in blends as well. Have you never tasted Kadarka? Well, if you have tried ‘Bikavér’ (aka Bulls’ Blood), well, it is most likely that you have drunk Kadarka. Both in Eger and Szekszárd, in the two wine regions of Bikavér it is obligatory to include at least 5% Kadarka in the blend.
6. Less and less and less…
According to some written evidences long ago 70% of Hungarian vineyards were planted with Kadarka. Nowadays we grow more white grapes than black, and some international varieties gained importance like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2008 there were only 600 hectares under Kadarka, and by now (in 2021) we have even less, only 273 hectares altogether.
7. Save it from extinction!
Thank God most winemakers have realized – here and all over the world – that local grapes are grown on purpose. Indigenous (native) grapes adapt the soil, the climate and even our drinking habits in the best way. It is not by accident that our ancestors grew Kadarka in great quantity. It is worth rediscovering Kadarka and “going back to the roots”. It is time that you, winelovers should discover this exciting, amazing variety. Taste it, buy it and help us increase Kadarka vineyards again!
8. A primadonna with problems
So why did so many grapegrowers abandon Kadarka? Because it is a very sensitive grape and it needs extra care, infinite attention. Spring frost can destroy the entire crop, or if it survives, then autumn rainfall can cause damage.
9. Kunság, Szekszárd, Eger
Hungary has 22 wine regions, and 10 of them does not have visible amount of Kadarka (less than 0.1 hectare). We can find the most Kadarka vineyards in Kunság wine region (86,2 hektár), then in Szekszárd (75,4), followed by Eger (33). We can also mention Hajós–Baja (24,8), Villány (21) and Csongrád (11,9). In Balatonboglár, Bükk wine region, Etyek–Buda, Mátra, Pécs and Tolna there are less than 10 hectares.
10. Attack of the Clones?
The sensitivity of Kadarka did not discourage all winemakers. Some of them decided to work together with researchers and they managed to select the best and most resistant clones with the best characteristics. There is nothing like “manipulation of genes” here, the Kadarka clones are absolutely natural, what happened was just a long procedure of monitoring many different variants of the Kadarka grape to select the best ones. Like finding the “thoroughbred” horces to win the race.