Author: Kristian Kielmayer, Ágnes Herczeg
It is an ancient Hungarian variety, probably from Badacsony. Old records identified it as the northern Italian variety Picolit, but this has now been refuted by research. It is a special, unique variety, which is essentially only found in its limited home, around the Balaton, and more precisely in Badacsony.
It got its name from its bluish petiole. Its leaves are medium-sized, long rather than broad, and dark green in colour. Its flowers are female, making it is difficult to fertlise; it is therefore co-planted with Budai Zöld to help with this. It has long, extremely loose clusters. It is a late-ripening variety with good cold and frost tolerance and thick-skinned berries. The literature also mentions versions with long and short petioles.
The variety has less than 50 hectares registered, of which 47 can be found in Badacsony, making up only 3% of the total vineyard area of the wine district. Beyond the north shore of the Balaton, a small amount can be found in the Etyek-Buda wine district. It is an extremely rare variety with high quality potential, boasting delicate aromatics and pronounced acidity. Foreign wine literature has also reported on its potentially high quality, which is worth considering despite its uncertain yields. It is capable of producing complex wines due to its waxy texture, spice, complex flavours pronounced acidity and moderately aromatic notes. Its structure and texture make it well-suited to bottle ageing.
The variety is essentially only found in Badacsony and is generally produced in a dry style. Wines benefit from a year or two of bottle ageing to allow better integration of its high acidity. It is characterised by restrained fruit and spice as well as a certain leanness, which may be complemented by its salty, oily texture. The variety can boast peach, cherry blossom, almond, citrus fruit, herbal and mineral notes. Wines are generally lean in style, but also have a good affinity for oak ageing.
Kéknyelű grape bunch and leaf
Thanks to its piercing acidity, delicate aromatics and great structure, Kéknyelű can yield high-quality wines, which show particularly well after a couple of years in bottle. Some ageing adds complexity and allows the acidity to better integrate into the wine as a whole. The tropical fruit notes and vibrancy of young Kéknyelű are best enjoyed from early spring to late autumn.
It’s a great accompaniment to crisp mixed salads, lemon and chicken salads, celeriac, fennel, roasted vegetables, pumpkin cream soup and beetroot. It also complements white meats such as poultry, pork and fish. Always store a constant, cool temperature, away from sunlight and heat, to best preserve its quality. Remove from the fridge a little before serving. Best enjoyed at around 8-10°C in a tulip-shaped white wine glass. High-quality aged Kéknyelű has a slightly oily texture as well as notes of spice and stone fruit. These wines will also pair well with slightly more complex, richer, spicier dishes.
Kéknyelű may also be made as a late-harvested wine and, in rare cases, as an ice wine. These are dense, oily wines, richly spiced with lush tropical fruit flavours. It is delicious on its own, but also perfect served with fruity desserts, vanilla slices or cream pots. Serve at about 6-8°C in tulip-shaped white wine glass.