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Ede Tiffán Grande Selection 2006

There is something of a Hungarian theme to the Winedoctor writings this week, at least to begin with, as tomorrow I will be casting the spotlight on a selection of a dozen Hungarian wines from the regions of Tokaj-Hegyalja (perhaps better known as the source of Tokaji - or even Tokay - to you and me), Villány, Székszárd and Balatonboglár, all listed by UK merchant Cozzi & Jenkins. Suitably impressed by the wines, which ranged from a nuanced, cerebral style to one of finely-poised seduction, today I thought I should focus on one that struck a particular chord with my palate, from leading Hungarian winemaker Ede Tiffán.

Ede Tiffán Grande Selection 2006Something of a father figure in Villány, one of the more southerly of Hungary's wine regions, Ede Tiffán has decades of viticultural and winemaking experience under his belt. As a young man he lived and worked under communist rule; after studying horticultural engineering he took a post at one of the gigantic state farms that dominated the world of agriculture and viticulture behind the Iron Curtain, eventually taking up a post at the Új Alkotmany cooperative, looking after both vineyards and cellars. By the time communist rule over Hungary came to an end in 1989 Ede Tiffán was most probably one of the most highly qualified and experienced viticulturalists in the country. What wasn't yet apparent at this time was his viticultural heritage; his parents were of German descent, more ancient ancestors no stranger to the vine it seems, and so perhaps it was only natural that before long Tiffán was settling down to life working for himself, with some newly acquired vineyards. He set up in Villány, and quickly began acquiring accolades for his portfolio of wines and for himself. He was named by the Hungarian Wine College as their first ever Winemaker of the Year in 1991, having only just started out, and today he is vice president of the Hungarian Wine Academy. His flagship wine is the Grande Selection, a cuvée which has been particularly well received over the years, especially since the 1995 vintage was awarded first place in a tasting of Villány reds held by the Hungarian wine journal Borbarát. Second place, by the way, went to another Tiffán cuvée.

Tiffán and his wines garner similar levels of praise today, and it was easy to see why when tasting the 2006 vintage of the Ede Tiffán Villány Grande Selection. This is the top blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Ede Tiffán. It has a beautifully dark, black and yet vibrant hue in the decanter. The pulse really starts to race when encountering the aromatics though, which are just breathtaking, vibrant and alive, full of perfumed fruit, dark and yet with floral overtones, still with a little trace of oak but certainly nothing obtrusive, Sweet, expressive, with a dark but vivacious character, and with tinges of iron and burnt rust alongside the fruit characters. It is thrilling. On the palate it is broad and fleshy, yet well defined and direct, with plenty of grip and substance but always with a bright, concentrated style to it, along with a fine and meaty edge to the fruit. Its high status is conveyed by the lovely composition on the palate, a silky-cottony structure, fresh acidity and a fine, chalky substance to the fruit. What a fine, powerful and yet refined style. The finish is long, bright and very perfumed, with a sweet and softly mineral edge to the tannins, and a freshness to the core. This is brilliant. 18+/20

UK stockist: Cozzi & Boffa. (17/1/11)

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