Posted by: tomciocco | June 16, 2010


As Jen and I travel thither and yon, we will occasionally stop at unknown wine shops that seem to hold a bit more promise to see if I can turn up something rare, a particularly good deal, or ANYTHING at all. We ‘ve walked out unencumbered more than a couple of times for lack of inspiration, but not so the other day. Though I would hesitate to call the stop a smashing success, I was mildly shocked to find a rustic rarity from Hungary – Kadarka.

A Kunsagi Nemes Kadarka to be specific…The region of Kunsag (should have an accent over the “a” – KOON sag) is a large and fragmented region south of Budapest that is mostly flat and quite hot. Frankly, this region is not known for the production of top notch Kadarka (for these we look to Villany and Szekszard) or any other wine for that matter, but rather for easy, light, and cheerful drinks, and indeed that’s what we got, but with just enough direct varietal character and a  fun, lusty demeanor to make it a pleasant change from the usual.

The grape, also called Gamza, is found a bit in Bulgaria, and is said to orginate in southern Serbia, but Hungary is still the grape’s defacto home.  Kadarka had once been widely planted throughout Hungary, and at one time was the signature variety in the famous Egri Bikaver – “Bull’s Blood”. But the difficulties the variety presents in the vineyard, and its relatively low yields made it completely unsuitable for the wide, tractor-harvested rows planted by the Communist government, so it  became something of a specialty for select producers.

With this little oddity, I made a dish called Hamis Vadas Hus  from an early 1970s Hungarian cookbook that I’ve got. Basically, it’s the short-cutted version of Vadas Hus – Hunter’s Style Pot Roast – that takes, with the marinating, 3 days. We wanted to eat today…I served it with, as the recipe suggested, egg noodles (or potato dumplings, which sounds much better, but a paucity of time, and the vision of sticky hands, bowls, plates, etc. put me off it.) and a mixed green salad. It came out well, and though the wine wasn’t the final word in sophistication or the paradigm for the variety, it went well with the grub… 


Marika Kunsagi Nemes Kadarka 2008



Transparent light burnished ruby color. Simple but powerful and direct aromas of ultra-ripe strawberry preserves, beeswax and lavender. The wine is off-dry and very supple but not lacking acidity, and with a certain sapid quality  with flavors of cloves and tea leaves. Finishes long and simply sweet, but in no way cloying.




  1. Very good post. I definitely love this site. Thanks!

    • Thanks

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