Grand Vin de Barnag
Bence Szilágyi is the one man band behind Barnag Wines. After his family moved from Hamburg to the Balaton region of Hungary Bence’s father began making wine as a hobby (a common pastime in the area). Bence decided to experiment with a wine of his own and made his first official vintage in 2017 (400 bottles). It was never meant to be more than an experiment but Barnag Wines has slowly grown to 20,000 bottles a year in production. Grand Vin de Barnag is named for the small village that the winery is in on the north side of Lake Balaton, Hungary. Bence farms rented vineyards, around 2.5ha, and buys from his neighbors. All vineyards have clay and limestone soils. Both the rented vineyards as well as the vineyards Bence purchases from are farmed organically. Bence tried to minimize spraying and copper use as much as possible. He does not till the soil and relies on natural flora for cover crops. Wines are unfined, unfiltered, and have no added sulfur. All fermentations with indigenous yeasts. There is lots of experimenting with different forms of whole bunch fermentation: “Whole bunch isn’t just whole bunch. You can add no juice, some juice, partially crush the bunches. . .Kekfrankos is the only grape for which I think you need some ‘traditional’ skin contact–in order to get its full character–so that’s the only wine I de-stem the grapes for. All the rest are either direct press or whole bunch, or a combination of both.” – Bence. The labels are a 16th century etching of immoderation of the seven deadly sins.
Winemaker Florian Zaruba runs the biodynamic wine farm, where a seasonal restaurant and small hotel are also part of the Kristinus property on the southwest shores of Lake Balaton, Hungary. Founded in 2012, the family-owned wine farm has been 100% biodynamic since 2018, after Florian took over as winemaker.
The winemaking is stretching back as far as the ancient Roman times on this part of the lake, the largest lake in central Europe. The diverse land of vineyards, orchards, pastures and forests are relatively close to the lake and currently stand at 60ha in size. The integration of cattle, chickens, sheep and bees have started in 2020. The soil consists of a mixture of clay, loess, sand and limestone.
A high percentage of their wines are skin fermented and aged in large clay amphorae. They use their natural yeasts and there is no fining and filtration and only a very little added sulphite before bottling. Autochtón varieties led by Kékfrankos, Furmint, Olaszrizling and Irsai Oliver all play an important part in their farming concept.
Annamária Réka Koncz had her winemaking academic start with a degree in Horticultural Engineering in Hungary and then a Masters in Agriculture, specializing in microbiology and yeast evaluation in Denmark. After graduating, she spent years traveling and working across wineries in Slovenia, Italy, and France, when she realized it was her home in Hungary that she was meant to plant real roots. Upon her return, she immediately purchased 3 hectares of old vines in the northeast village of Barabás, which is technically a part of the Bükk region. Since her first release in 2016, she’s the only producer in this once highly regarded but since forgotten region of Hungary.
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