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| Andrew L. Urban

Generations, traditions, vintages

Andrew L. Urban
September 7, 2015

Since 2010, the Gere vineyards have been organic, officially certified in 2014, and the results are exceptional, says Attila Gere, one of the famous winemakers in Villány region.

We are in the Gere winery storage cellar on the outskirts of Villány, among dozens of large barrells and smaller barriques, Attila Gere holding a glass syphon with which he draws a sample of wine from one of the barrells marked as 2014 vintage. He lets wine into our glasses: all three of us, Attila, his daughter Andrea and me, are wearing warm, sleeveless jackets, which I take to be a sign that we will be here in the cool of the cellar for some time. Outside it’s over 30 C.

“I am not too concerned about describing the berries, the apple or the plum or whatever falvors in wine,” he says in his good natured fashion (in Hungarian), “I just like to taste the wine.” Although he is down to earth and lively, he is also dead serious about winemaking. He and his family have some 70 hectares in four lots under vine in Villány (including 10 hectares in partnership with Austrian investor friend Franz Wenninger).

This is the favorite part of the entire winemaking process, he says smiling, but he is serious. He loves tasting his wines. He goes over to a separate room where the family keeps samples from every wine, to bring out a surprise; a surprise for him too. “We came across one of these the other day,” he explains with a grin, “and thinking it would not be drinkable, we opened it to check…. we got a pleasant surprise!”

The dust covered bottle doesn’t even have a back label, nor much info on the front, just a faded brownish sticker. “This is our 1992 Portugieser!” he exclaims, pouring us a taste. It’s in great condition, complex, enjoyable.

Normally, a tour of the winery is by appointment only: public wine tastings are conducted at the Crocus Gere Hotel in Villány village, no appointment necessary. Standard and premium menus are available. But this is not normal, we are talking about the future of Villány winemaking, as well as the all important past.

The latter is filled with memories and history, not all good. The bitter postwar years fractured the family’s winemaking history, and it wasn’t long before making that 1992 Porugeiser (Oporto in those days) that Gere took up winemaking and left forestry. His family has been in wine for generations, and his daughter is the next generation, already making her own wine, the Finesse for starters, “and we like to play and explore,” she says with the same enthusiasm as her father.

They like to mix music with wine, and host a yearly jazz festival in June, with major headline artists from around the world. In 2015, for the 4th Rosé Festival, they encouraged everyone to wear pink, had special trains from Pécs and welcomed over 8,000 people to enjoy it. Of the winery’s annual output of 500,000 or so bottles, 150,000 are rosé, the Frici, and the sparkling Frici Rosé (merlot & pinot)

Since 2010, the Gere vineyards have been organic, officially certified in 2014, and the results are exceptional, he says. Meticulously neat and carefully managed, the vineyard and winery operate at maximum human and technical efficiency. “If you are careful, there need be very little waste,” he says, “the only things that we discard are the lower quality fruit.”

Just for fun, he brings out a 2008 cabarnet franc, and just as we are oooing and aaahing about it, he brings out the 2012. “The plants have had four years to grow deeper into the soil,” he explains as he opens it with a smile. This may be a younger vintage but it makes the 2008 pale in comparison. Gere says it will be really superb in 25 or 30 years, but I am not waiting. He has such faith in it that instead of the usual pallett of 500 bottles from every batch of wine, he has put 1,000 of these into the family vault. Now there are 999.

The exploration continues with a wine made from a historic old vine, the Fekete Járdóvány, unique to the Carpathian basin and transplanted with the help of Pécs University: the 2013, is a typical 14% alcohol, yet it doesn’t present as alcoholic. Planted in a small trial section (just 0.2 hectares), aged in barriques for 6 months it’s a seductive wine for those who like complex, full bodied, yet supple wines, with a unique twist.

Many of the Gere wines are classified as premium, some super premium (like the rare and infrequently made Attila) and Gere is looking forward to branding these with the new Villányi Franc logo, helping to promote the wines that promote the region.

Many excellent wines later (including the Gere flagship, the silky Kopar), we emerge from the cellar and look up at the vineyards on the slopes not far away. There is the future; in the cellars the present; and on the walls leading to the pressing section, photos of the past.

Andrew L. Urban

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