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Premeditated Progress in the Káli Basin - Jenő Istvándy's Winery

An experimenting winery that grows year by year in one of the most beautiful settlements of the Káli Basin, Szentbékkálla. The winery cultivates 5 acres at the moment and produce mostly Chardonnay, Királyleányka and Welschriesling. We tasted each and every type of wine it offers, and discovered the reason why young people travel several hundred kilometres for a wine tasting under the Istvándy aegis.

Employee vs. entrepreneur

The model behind the Istvándy Jenő Winery in Szentbékkálla shows eerie resemblance to that of SKIZO Winehouse. Similarly to the two owners of SKIZO, Tamás is also the employee of a major winery. We visited them on a workday, so Tamás wasn't even home; his wife and the manager of the winery's affairs, Éva Istvándy guided us around the estate that used to be the grandparents' home.

The young couple doesn't feel schizophrenic about the duality of main job vs. family enterprise: they consider it to be a good path towards financial independence and premeditated growth. True, it all comes with a price: Éva, who graduated as a music teacher has had to dedicate all her time to the enterprise, while Tamás joins her after work.

In addition to selling wine around Lake Balaton and in Budapest, they also sell in Szentbékkálla, and they also hold their wine tastings there. They also do bottling for others, for which the minor local wineries seem quite grateful.

Cheap vs. quality wine

Today, the young couple Tamás Istvándy and his wife are doing the bulk of the grape cultivation work, however it was the vintner dad, Jenő Istvándy who had originally laid down the basics - now he's more of an advisor. In the '70ies an '80ies, he used to sell cheap wine to restaurants around the Lake, and Tamás could have followed this less stressful way, but he decided in favour of quality wine. The young couple knows the price this takes: nighttime bottling, endless weekends in the vineyard, and the fact that even with proper expansion they will only be able to subside solely on the family enterprise in about 10 years.

These wines are worth tasting!

At the moment, the winery produces 2-3000 bottles per year. They are fond of experimenting with various blends. Our favourite was the Parfüm 2013, perhaps because it is a typical women's drink, a light and soft cuvée, a blend of Welschriesling, Királyleányka and Rizlingszilváni. The perfume effect is guaranteed by the fragrant Királyleányka grape variety.

Their other base wine from 2013 is the total counterpole of Parfüm. Made of Welschriesling exclusively, Kála displays a slightly acidic, manly flavour. Their Welschriesling 2012, produced from the old grapevines of the Mátyás Hill, is even more full-bodied and higher in alcohol than Kála. Our fourth flight was Napsugár 2012. The Chardonnay (with residual sugar content) represents a lighter, more womanly type of flavour.

Their current trump is a Welschriesling from 1973 called Botrytis, a real speciality. It resembles walnut oil, it is full but aromatic. Its 15% alcohol content guarantees its preservation. It spent 40 years in a wooden barrel, before having been transferred into the bottle. The stocks are growing scarce, so autumn would be a good time to visit the Istvándy Jenő Winery for this item.

Bearing labels designed by the hand of Tamás Istvándy, the bottles are tastefully modest, but elegant. Similarly to his dad and grandfather, Tamás also keeps his wine journal attentively: he believes it is the Bible of wine making. It helps him remember the problems with the grapes and what each vintage was like.

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