Our Bikavér legacy is one of our largest burden from the socialist era (along with the semi-dry Nagyburgundi Kékfrankos and Debrői Hárslevelű). Wineries from Eger and Szekszárd were trying, but not exactly succeeded to contest who can produce better Bikavér (which I think is non-sense). Until the late nineties at least, when Tóth István produced his iconic Bikavér in 1999 and more or less decided the question for the next 9 years as many say so.
Or almost. Although a lost of people believe that the 1999 by Tóth István has remained unbeaten they must admit that the newest Tóth István Bikavér they could compare it with was the 2002 vintage. The normal (not Selection) Bikavér 2003 has been on the market for a year at least and the Selection 2003 will follow very soon (probably in September). The similarities with Brunellos does not stop here.
Medium-ruby color with ink reflections and brownish rim.
The nose is berry fruits, mostly blackburry dissolved in Cognac. The style reminds me of Gróf Buttler’s. On the palate the oily tannic texture supports the Port-like (or even Cognac-like) impression which similar to the bouquet. The wine is as rich on the palate as on the nose.
Asian spices and sweetness mingled with smoky undertone. The age of the wine is obvious, but still well-rounded with medium body getting full-bodied after an hour. With it’s smooth tannins the wine is very pleasant to drink.
Hours later it shows cloudy purplish reflections.
With 20% discount at the retailer, it’s a best buy in the Bikavér areana. And I can’t wait to taste the 2003, which is supposed to be a better (although lately criticized) year.
Score: 6-7/10 (it really swings that much)
Price: HUF 3 500/ EUR 14 (full-price)
I wrote some time ago about how I regained my confidence in Portugieser (thanks to Gróf Buttler) and I was rather positive about Heumann’s slightly overrated, although exceptionally good Kékfrankos recently. I wanted to know the difference between the EUR 12 Heumann and the Heimann Kékfrankos for half of that. Here’s the result.
Medium ruby color with purplish reflections.
Olive oil move but lively, suggesting flimsy structure. The bubbles seem to come from some detergent added to sparkling mineral water: they’re quite bright and transparent without any color.
The nose is surprisingly spicy with ripe, rotten plum undertone (quite nice actually) but this element only appears after appr. 45 minutes. The perfum-like, spicy nose combined with the low textural complexity reminds me more of a Pinot Noir or indeed, a Kadarka.
Thin wine with round acidity, smoothly tannic. The finish is rotten plum.
90 minutes after opening the wine shows more complexity on the palate and becomes very well balanced, something most Hungarian wines under EUR20 lack and it’s quite soft too.
Serve it relatively warm.
Score: 5/10 (after a 4, 4+ start) - read more about the rating system here.
Price: HUF 1 900/ EUR 8
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Heumann winery (run by Evelyne & Erhard Heumann) is a small family winery in Siklós in the Villány region. Since foreigners are not allowed to easily purchase land in Hungary even after joining the EU, the couple leases their so far small land but they have very ambitious plans to extend the current yearly few thousand bottle production to 60 000. As so many in Villány, they started with Portugieser but according to their (not so up-to-date) website they have 11.500 Cabernet Franc vines, 3.000 Syrah and 4.000 Merlot are already planted which has come into production in 2006. The planting density is 7000 vines/ha with an expected maximum yield of 1 kg per vine. They also rented some smaller plots with Merlot and Kékfrankos and we are buying-in grapes from quality-oriented producers to gradually increase production.
It is unclear to me whether the Kékfrankos (better known abroad as Blaufränkisch) I tasted was made from their own of from grapes bought from others, or mixed.
Heumann Kékfrankos Barrique 2006.
Almost inpenetrable, dark ruby color. The wine has very dense move, very lovely as I pour it into my glass.
The nose is intense cherry and live wood, soon paprika (not chilli) and in the empty glass tobacco. Not too intensely other spices are also present, except pepper which is quite intense. 1,5 hours later the nose is tobacco and leather. The aromas and lower-medium sweetness are well supported by round, although young acids.
The wine opens more after 1,5-2 hours. You should leave it open for at least an hour otherwise you might be disappointed with the tannins. The nose will keep the wood long after that too.
Price: HUF 3000/ EUR 13
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Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is a less than 40 km-long coastline located in Liguria, south of Genova, stretching from Monterosso to Riomaggiore. It consists of five ancient fishing villages, interconnected by walking trails. It’s already too crowded so I won’t start to describe how beautiful the nature and the villages are and how friendly and symphatic its inhabitants are.
Cinque Terre wines are practically unknown outside of the region for all the production is consumed locally. And instantly – hence there are virtually no vintage wines on the shelfs. Amongst visitors, the wines are extremely looked after – something to be thought about by Magyar Turizmus ZRt and mostly, the wine marketing gurus in Hungary.
The vinyards are localed by the seaside but typically few dozen meters above sea level on steep rocky hills. When hiking the breathtaking trails I couldn’t stop thinking about the effort the peasants put into building the terraces that cover the best slops of the hills. Olive trees and grape are everywhere, mostly in places where the nearest road or port is 10 kms away far beyond the steep hillsides and deep valleys. No wonder they invented a kind of railway which runs 1,5 meters above ground and can carry 1 person or few dozen kilograms of freshly harvested grapes at a time – uphill.
Grape varieties tinclude Albarola, Bosco and Vermentino. The first two are of unknown origin, while the third, Vermentino, was introduced into the area fairly recently.
DOC wineries include Cooperative Agricoltura di Riomaggiore – Manarola – Corniglia – Vernazza – Monterosso and minor wineries. The flagship wines are sweet white wines, but dry white wines sell more: mostly in small local stores and restaurants, always, always served at about 5 degrees celsius – at least during the hot summers.
Entry level dry wines start around EUR 6 (retails store price) and dessert wines are priced more often than not above EUR 30 a small bottle. Interestingly, restaurants apply significantly smaller uplift than Hungarian restaurants.
Furmint vs Vendemmia
I’ve covered the Dereszla Furmint Szegi 2006 yesterday. The day after and on the second day the wine showed minor degradation only, with marzipan perfum becoming dominant (both the nose and on the palate). Quite interesting.
The Cinque Terre Vendemmia 2007 has a deeper, more corn-like, friendly color. The nose is fresh grass and acidity and more and more apple and Traubi (for those who didn’t live in Hungary in the 80s, Traubi is a popular soda from the socialist era made of grape – or at least they told us so). There’s no better word to describe this slightly sparking, apple-like sensation. I can sense the notes of large old barrel, but it’s not disturbing, rather it grants the wine a rustic accent. Low acidity and low sugar level. Full-bodied wine with minerality. The nose later becomes gooseberry and continental fruits and mediterranean fresh spices.
I would say that the Furmint is trying to be more serious whilst the Vendemmia is full of fun. Both are good wines, and Vendemmia wins by price.
Score: 5+, 6-
Price: EUR 8,5
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After searching the internet for some information about Dereszla winery using what they claim to be the most efficient search engine available I gave up and turned to their merchant’s website. Here’s what I found:
“Egy francia cég,” Gam Audy” tulajdonában van a Dereszla pincészet. A tulajdonos Bordeaux-ban is rendelkezik birtokokkal.” (Translation: The owner of Dereszla winer is a French company called “Gam Audy”. The owner also owns land in Bordeaux)
I pressed the refresh button because I thought the page just stopped loading. But no, there you are. Apparently, that’s all you need to know. But to be honest, it’s even too much compared to the listing of wines offered online from this winery (zero) although I bought this wine at their shop only few weeks ago.
After the success of Dorombor and Dry on these pages I had to write about Tokaj’s one of two flagship dry varieties from Dereszla. This sentence alone would generate debate since the battle between Furmint and Hárslevelű is far from an end. I am not the one who’s going to decide which one would represent better Tokaj (the terroir, the history, the quality, etc.). But since there are so many interpretations of both varieties, perhaps it’s a good idea to taste the sortiment of a winery who’s producing such remarkable cuvées and not just the mandatory Furmint or Hárslevelű.
The wine has light color and a slightly oily move.
The nose is very intense at opening with mostly Furmint and light acacia honey notes, plus minerals. It’s not like an eau de toilette or even eau de Cologne, but like essence of perfume.
On the palate unexpected acidity combined with bitterness providing support for the extract sweetness, or at least it tries to.
The nose soon switches to vanilla, cinnamon and underlying asian spices, mostly curry and tamarind.
I enjoy the long bitter finish with minerality of this full-bodied wine.
However the wine feels like it’d been put together in a very haphasard way. I believe that Dereszla is still searching for its style and this is a good, indeed interesting but from an end result point of view not extraordinary tentative to define itself in the Furmint arena.
Score: 5+ points
Price: HUF 2 690/ EUR 11
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I was drawned to Chateau Megyer wines few weeks ago due to a meeting with its owner, Monsieur Jean Louis Laborde, a nice people by the way. It’s not that Chateau Megyer wines would be difficult to find, indeed, they’re everywhere. And that’s why I’ve been avoiding them and as you’ll see, maybe I should not have done so.
Medium deep golden color. The nose is acacia, honey and caramel. Not quite what I expected. On the palate woody, even tanninic supported by unexpectedly buoyant acidity. The wine is full-bodied and not young, but neither too old. And it’s neither Chardonnay-esque. I suspect oak barrel aging maybe slightly over the top. As time passes, stewed apricot dominates the nose and on the palate along with minerality. Great combination, if you ask me. And it gets better with time.
The wine is full of surprises, considering the vintage. It’s round, intense and mineral. I suspect it was late harvested. 2-3 hours later, burnt sugar and flowers. It’s even too intense. The autumn leaf smell is much appreciated. This wine really made my day.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 1 410, EUR 5,5-6
10 out of 10 Hungarians will never guess where Csörnyefölde is. Since Bussay more or less put Csörnyefölde on the wine map, few thousand wine lovers at least heard about it – the precise figure will remain unknown as well as the number of bottles produced of this wine. Yes, Bussay is another winemaker practically non-existing internet-wise. So let’s get straight to the review then.
According to the merchant’s website, Esküvé this year was 60% made of Olaszrizling and 40% of Rizling (Riesling) without additional yeast added and it had been matured for 10 months in once used barrels before bottling.
Relatively bright light color.
The nose is medium complex, actually interestingly complex but one-dimensional: it’s rather floral than mineral or fruity. Any association would be forced, let’s just say it’s interesting.
On the palate very few fruity elements with peach note and very acidic. Clean, crisp and refreshing. The Riesling component shows more and mostly in the form of acids and oily texture, the Olaszrizling almost lacks the bitterness which is so typical of the grape. I expected more body too. But it’s overall a good wine very fairly priced (although the we’ve seen its price falling sharply recently almost making it a best buy, so good for us).
Price: HUF 1470 (EUR 6)