Takler is Right Up There

October 31, 2007

One of my favorite winemakers in the world is Ferenc Takler from the Szekszard region of Hungary. Winemaking runs in the family back a few hundred years, but as with many things during the communist years of a few decades after WWII things got a bit rusty. They were forced to join a coop and their tradition, know-how and the precious land was all meshed up with hundreds of other landowners and nationalized (read: confiscated by the state in the name of public ownership). In spite of these unfortunate decades, the Takler family started to revive their name back in the early 1980s first slowly reacquiring land and building out modern infrastructure.

What is amazing about the Taklers is that they perfectly balance tradition with modern technique and take into consideration how their customers’ taste has changed over the years both in Hungary, across Europe and now in the United States. Their wines are sort of a blend of new world and old world. You basically get the elegance of the old world with the power of new world wines. It sounds a bit commonplace, but what is unique is that these guys can really pull this off better than any winemaker I know.

I got to know the Taklers via Select Wines, a reputable mail order store in New York. They carry the widest selection of Hungarian wines in the States because of their affiliation with Monarchia, one of the largest negociants and retailers in Hungary. Today’s wine, Takler’s Regnum Cuvee, is the family’s #2 wine. Regnum is a typical Hungarian Bordeaux style wine. No, I will not leave you out there hanging not knowing what this means. In Hungary most winemakers who produce Bordeaux style blends use the typical varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but they also add a Central European varietal called Kekfrankos (Blaufrankisch in Austria). Kekfrankos is slightly higher in acidity than the Bordeaux varietals and gives the blend a very nice backbone, structure. Regnum blends 15% Kekfrankos with 37.5% Cabernet Franc, 37.5% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and is aged in new oak for 21 months.

This being a Takler wine, exhibits extreme elegance that you would expect from top Bordeauxs, yet you also get the velvety texture you find in Napa Valley Cabarnets. It really is a unique combination, which to me is the best of both worlds. The wine is full of black fruit, berries and is sprinkled with a hint of chocolate and vanilla. Beautiful. If you live in the States, I highly recommend picking up a bottle from Select Wines. You do not need to be adventurous to try this one, and I promise it will be one of the best wines you have had. The Regnum does not come cheap, it retails for about $50.

If you want to go all the way out, try Takler’s #1, the Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2003, which is definitely among the top 3 wines I have tasted. Takler only made 119 cases of this 100% Cabernet Franc and most of it is already sold out. If you are lucky to be able to get your hands on it do so.

Name: Takler Regnum Cuvee, 2002

Rating: 9 out of 10

Body: Full

Price: 35 euros

Got it at: Interspar, Budapest, Hungary

Takler Regnum Cuvee, 2002