Local character, captured sustainably
Wednesday 05 January 2022
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In the Szekszárd region of Hungary, somewhere in the south of the country, in the Twickel winery, an estate that has been producing quality and proudly-Hungarian wine since 1993. With fascinating noble connections and a commitment to pursuing “noble values”, Twickel works with the terroir of its unique location to create wine with natural local character.
This means that Twickel looks to produce wine using “low intervention” methods, a very fashionable thing in winemaking today, but something the winery has long been striving to achieve.
Twickel’s “Low Intervention” Wine
Twickel’s vineyards are tended using accredited sustainable viticulture and farming practices recognised by a national body of sustainable Hungarian winemaking. This takes into account not just the winemaking itself, but also the farming of the vineyards and the land in and around the vineyards, maintaining vines, harvesting grapes and processing wine while having minimal impact on the environment.
Sustainability in Hungarian winemaking also takes note of easily overlooked but completely essential aspects of the vineyard — aspects such as soil maintenance and regeneration, and the promotion of biological diversity.
Twickel say, quite simply: “The result is a healthier and more productive vineyard and winery.”
The Noble History of Twickel
Baron Georg von Twickel’s mother, Mária Terézia, Countess Zichy, came from the main line of the renowned Hungarian family of nobles, but was forced to leave the country in 1956 during the Hungarian revolution.
The Countess moved to Germany, where she met her future husband, Baron Clemens Twickel from North-Rhine Westphalia. She missed Hungary, and after the regime change to a democratic parliamentary republic, both Mária Terézia and Baron Clemens Twickel looked to move their lives back to Hungary.
The pair found themselves drawn to the old Zichy estates. Both the Zichy and the Twickel families have 700-year old ties with agriculture, and the opportunities in the Szekszárd vine-growing region sealed their interest.
From Liszt to Zichy — The Twickel Wines
The Twickel winery began under the name Liszt Winery, after the famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Liszt happened to be a friend and tutor to Count Geza Zichy, a maternal ancestor of Baron Georg von Twickel. Count Geza was fond of the piano, and when he lost his arm in a hunting accident ages 14, he simply learned how to play left-handed. Liszt composed his piano concerto no. 456 specifically for left-handed players especially for him.
The Liszt brand has now become Twickel’s core range of wines, covering a wide variety of styles, mostly dry, and predominantly for easy drinking at the table.
Twickel’s Kajmád range is of a higher quality, ages in barriques and made from the finest grapes from the vineyards. The rosé cuvée pairs beautifully with paprika-spiked dishes and the Kajmád Cabernet Franc is a perfect match for rich, smoked meats.
Zichy, as the name suggests, is Twickel’s premium cru range. Made from grapes grown on the sunniest slopes in the most prime positions, they are aged in wood for at least 12 months before ageing in bottle prior to release.
In Zichy you’ll find a traditional Bikavér, a kékfrankos blend, and a complex Merlot boasting honey, blossom, woody herbs and rich tannins.
Szekszárd’s Unique Winemaking Climate
In Szekszárd, the winters are long and extreme — thick snow, low temperatures and storms. However, the summers are fine and dry, and combined with thick, silty soil called “Loess” in winemaking terminology, this actually creates some ideal vine-growing conditions.
Hungary is affected by Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental climates, giving this southern, open area of the country an unusually warm current of weather over continental Europe; think of it like a mini Jet Stream.
The silty Loess soil is sometimes 30 metres deep, and can be a combination of Loess, sand, clay and gravel. This, connected to the unique climate of the Skekszárd and centuries of local winemaking experience, create uniquely rich and spiced wines with acid and energy.
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