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Kapcsandy Family Winery, an in-depth tasting

By far the best tasting of this spring was when Lou and Roberta (Bobbie) Kapcsandy visited Stockholm. Lou is the American Dream personified. He managed to escape from Hungary and the embattled Budapest when it made an unsuccessful uprising against Soviet powers in 1956. I know many Swedish photographers who were there and risked their lives among Russian soldiers, gun smoke and tanks.

Broke and without knowing a word of English, he came eventually to the US where he worked in a bakery, played professional football as he had previously done in the Hungarian national team, continued his interrupted studies in chemistry and served in the US Army for 2 1/2 years.

Lou worked hard and eventually became a business executive and earned a lot of money. When it was time to retire at the end of the 1990s he and Bobbie wanted to pursue their wine hobby which culminated in different visits and tastings in Bordeaux. In 1999 they began on a small scale to import Bordeaux wines to the US. But the dream was to make their own wine and primarily for their own consumption.

The turning point came just at the turn of the millennium in 2000 when they managed to buy State Lane Vineyards in Yountville, Napa Valley, from where Beringer bought their grapes to its Estate Private Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfortunately the vineyard was strongly affected by phylloxera (the wine louse), so it had to a great extent be replanted.

Lou and Roberta Kapcsandy with Lotta Lidén

Lou and Roberta Kapcsandy with Lotta Lidén, copyright R Eriksson

For the first vintage they recruited the legendary winemaker Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer, but Lou was not happy with the result. He felt that the first vintage in 2003 was not good, it lacked both nuances and finesse and had too much oak. It took almost seven years of aging before he felt it was drinkable.

Today he works with Denis Malbec, former winemaker at Château Latour, along with Rob Lawson who has made the wines since 2005. The aim is to make wines with subdued oak character that will recall the wines of Margaux, with an alcohol content of around 13-14%.

The grape sorting is strict, the vineyard is 7 hectares from which they can get about 8 tons of grapes per hectare, but the sorting reduces this to about 5 tons already in the vineyard. And then they have 18 women employed to manually sort out all the damaged and unripe grapes, leaves and stems to get as perfect a result as possible. That is some difference to when visiting a large cooperative in Italy where one feels sorry for all small frogs and some birds jumping around among the grapes before they go into the press.

Bottles of Kapcsandy Estate wines

Bottles of Kapcsandy Estate wines, copyright R Eriksson

And quality costs, but the total production extremely small. Of the grand vin they make only around 5,000 bottles and total production is only around 24,000 bottles. You can compare it with with Grand Cru chateaux in Bordeaux that make as much as several 100,000’s of bottles. The great guru Robert Parker visited the winery last spring and appointed them one of the top 5 in California!

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon 68%, Merlot 22%, Cabernet Franc 5% Petit Verdot 5%

Big red-fruity nose with hints of toasted barrels, cedar and wild raspberries, taste is quite full-bodied, red-fruity, elegant, balanced, with soft tannins, toasted barrels and good length.

~160 euro (based on prices in Sweden, as below), 89 p.

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon 100%

Big red-fruity nose with hints of black currant, cedar, oak and plum, the taste is quite full-bodied red-fruity, with hints of black currant, cedar, toasted barrels and good length.

~180 euro, 90 p.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, copyright BKWine Photography

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon 100%

Big dark-fruity nose, with notes of black currant, plum, cedar wood and stables; the flavour is full-bodied, dark-fruity, with blackcurrant, currant jam, barnyard; very good balance and good length.

~180 euro, 93 p.

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee 2008

Cabernet Sauvignon 68%, Merlot 22%, Cabernet Franc 5% Petit Verdot 5%

Big red-fruity nose, with some maturity and with hints of black currant, vanilla and barrels, the taste is quite full-bodied, dark-fruity, with blackcurrant, slightly tannic and quite long.

~170 euro, 91 p.

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee 2007

Cabernet Sauvignon 46%, Merlot 46%, Cabernet Franc 6%, Petit Verdot 2%

Big quite mature dark-fruity, lightly perfumed nose with hints of cedar and elegant tones; the taste is quite full-bodied, dark-fruity, with red and black currants, soft tannins, good length.

~160 euro, 92 p.

Bottles of Kapcsandy Estate wines

Bottles of Kapcsandy Estate wines, copyright R Eriksson

Kapcsandy Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin 2010

Cabernet sauvignon, 96% merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1%

Big dark-fruity nose, with notes of black currants, cedar, plum, tobacco and white raisins; the flavour is full-bodied, concentrated, with black currant, dark chocolate, cedar, very balanced tannins and good length.

320 euro, 95 p.

Kapcsandy Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin 2009

Cabernet sauvignon, 96% merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1%

Big dark-fruity nose, with hints of black currants, cedar, plum, stables and mint; the flavour is full-bodied, concentrated and quite mature, with blackcurrant, sweetness and elegance, nice soft tannins and long.

~320 euro, 96 p.

Kapcsandy Vino del Sol 2009

Merlot, 96% Cabernet Sauvignon 2%, Petit Verdot 2%

Big, dark-fruity, a little jammy nose with high acidity and with hints of red currant and black currant and barrels; the taste is full-bodied, jammy, with blackcurrant and raspberry, with pleasant tannins and length. A bit like port wine but lighter and made from other grapes. It is made from very ripe grapes from the edge of the vineyard that are allowed to ferment until fermentation is stopped with neutral wine spirit to preserve the sweetness. Lou is not so interested in high-alcohol drinks so he thinks that this wine is perfect at 17.5%. He thinks also that it is the hard to taste different varieties of wine spirits to find the best to add to Vino del Sol.

~70 euro (50 cl), 89 p.

This was the absolute best tasting of the spring. I’ve tried wines from them a year ago and was already impressed. The wines are all of a very high standard and they were a joy to taste, very un-American with their French elegance.

My favourites were the Grand Vin 2009 and 2010.

Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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