Márkvárt János – ‘I was born with 50% Kadarka in my blood.’

By Published On: February 14, 2024

A descendant of a Swabian family, János Márkvárt, Jr. is a self-taught, third-generation winegrower and winemaker whose family has longtime roots in Szekszárd, Hungary.

As a child he helped his grandfather in his winery and together in 1996, they relaunched their cellar. Their vineyards include Baranya Valley, Village, Sauli Valley, Right Hermit, Bakta, and the Gyűszű Valley. The family’s heritage is rooted in ancient, head-trained Kadarka. “I was born with 50% Kadarka in my blood,” he says. One of these vineyards, Right Hermit, boasts 100-year-old (or older) vines. His goal is to show the tradition and the elegance of the Szekszárdi region by making wines that were also made in the old days, such as Kadarka, Kékfrankos and Bikavér (Bull’s Blood).

During my September 2023 visit, I was honored to tour the vineyards, taste, and have lunch with János. Below are a few favorite wines.
Márkvárt János Kadarka 2022
Red berry flavors and spice – everything nice
János is passionate about Szekszárdi Kadarka – and it shows. His juicy, light-bodied red hails from two vineyards – Sauli Valley and the Right Hermit – with the latter boasting those 100-year-old vines. János lovingly coaxes the best fruit from these lower-yielding old vines located on steep, sun-drenched slopes. The result is a vibrant and spicy red that will compliment dishes like spicy Hungarian-style fisherman’s soup and stews – like the soup we enjoyed during my visit.

Márkvárt János Kékfrankos 2018
This Kékfrankos is the cherry on top
Kékfrankos may be Central Europe’s most commonly planted black grape – but there is nothing common at all about this medium-bodied red. János takes Kékfrankos to a whole other level, showing us why Szekszárd is a shining star for red wines. It’s like liquid velvet, with ripe, juicy cherry and delicate oak spice flavors from time spent in older seasoned barrels. This rustic red begs for dishes like grilled and roasted pork and lamb, meat-based pasta dishes, and hearty stews.

Márkvárt János Bikavér 2020
Lush and plush, this is your power red
János makes Szekszárd’s historic red blend, Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) even more legendary with his gentle hand in the cellar and premium fruit. A blend of primarily Kékfrankos, with Kadarka, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, this luscious, rich red is overflowing with mouthfilling flavors like brambly blackberry, ripe black cherry, and silky-smooth chocolate. You’ll find it’s the perfect companion to beef, game meats, and savory mushroom dishes.

 

About the Author: Elizabeth Smith

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Dr. Elizabeth Smith is a former college professor and wine club manager turned award-winning wine writer, copywriter, and marketer. Elizabeth is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International Sacramento and Sonoma Chapters, the Circle of Wine Writers and the Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association. Connect with Elizabeth at easmith.net/contact.