A stock clearance of a well known retailer provided my with a good opportunity to acquire some bottles for party people coming to visit us from time to time, you know smokers and alike. Some of these wines were so disappointing they drove me to the conclusion I made about mediocre wine reviews in this post. Tiffány’s Portugieser 2009, Tiffán’s Imortal cuvée 2007 and Tűzkő’s Sauvignon Blanc 2008 were good match with cigarettes only really. The following two wines were the best of the lot, so far.
Chateau Kajmád – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Kékfrankos, 2003
Considering it was made in 2003 we can call this an early bird of it’s kind with it’s 14% alcohol.
The look: A dark core surrounded by pigeon blood hue and a pale brownish rim, with some purplish reflections.
Nose: Interesting spices coming through a stuffy bouquet at first, things like turmeric-favored plum and other oddities.
Palate: Dirty. After 90 minutes it evoles structurally but I’d like more definition to it. The wine’s texture is oily and I’m suspecting a good deal of glycerin here. The tart fruityness I would even call pleasant would it not been ruined by the whole picture including quite a lot of half powdery, half sticky overflowing tannins soaked up by the glycerin. The wine has a dirty character which I associate with many – even not so old – Ch. Kajmád wines, very much the opposite of the clean Konyári or Gróf Buttler wines.
Hilltop – Prémium Merlot 2008
Look: dead ruby.
Nose: mulberry syrup, very fruity.
Palate: Ligh-bodied wine with blueberry wrapped in burnt rubber and licorice aromas. Soft texture and polished tannins. But as a whole it’s too “made” and simple.
Evaluation: forget about it.
After a series of database crashes and the website being unavailable Sunday whole day and Monday morning, Hungary’s by far the best (and only) wine blog in English language was moved to a new server. Now it’s up and running but for how long I cannot tell (it became available and disappeared several times this morning). I’ll try to pump this information through into the RSS feed before the next crash.
So after a new visual some other minor changes will be introduced as of now and some you may have already noticed.
Scoring. First of all scoring will be changed but I don’t know exactly how and until I find out there will be no scores at all. The 10 points scale I invented is good enough for regular readers but many visitors aren’t familiar with it so it becomes a bit confusing (5 looks like a low scores but in fact it’s not that bad if you read the description). I considered a 100 points scale several times but I don’t want to seem so arrogant as to think that I can distinguish two wines tasted two years apart by one single point on a scale of 100. That’s only possible if you drink maybe 10-15 different wines a day.
Evaluation. As there will be no scoring some direction about the quality and value of the wines will be given by some verbal evaluation and using tags like fairly priced, overrated/overpriced or best buy. I also introduce the term “recommended” any perhaps some others to indicate if a wine is worth buying even if it wouldbe overpriced based on traditional scoring.
Pictures. Photos have been missing lately. This is because I lost the cable I need to connect the old Cannon apparel to the computer. As soon as I find it there’ll be pictures again. In fact, there will be more pictures. I like pictures. I like taking pictures. I hope you’ll like them too.
Style. The blog has become sometimes a bit personal. Unforunately that won’t change. Some of you may prefer short wine reviews instead of boring stories but this is an independent blog and I’m writing it because I’m enjoying it. Although this is not a catalogue of wine reviews, I still hope you’ll find good and useful reviews in the posts.
Searching and browsing: browsing hasn’t been made much easier recently but at least I found a way to put a search box on the pain page. Until I find a better theme which makes browsing simpler I’ll try to rearrange a bit the category and tag structure, make some consolidation and we’ll see.
Content: I’m a little bit tired of drinking low quality wines, to be honest with you. Therefore there may be fewer posts about cheap wines in the future (I can’t promise there will be more reviews about good or expensive wines).
Thank you for reading this all and thank you for reading the blog. Please keep on reading and participating, a comment from you is always very much appreciated either we have different opinion or not.
Konyári is arguably (source: konyari.hu) the best known and most acclaimed winery of South-Balaton. This statement alone is sufficient to dislike the winery. This is so crucial to Konyári however that the statement reappears on five consequtive pages under the menu “about us” of the winery’s website, and apparently that’s all we need to know about “them” (plus that they have 30 hectares and they produce 200K bottles a year). I also learned that sustainable development means planting trees, not use too much pesticides and not to use air-conditioner in the cellar. It all makes sense to me without any ideology. Other interesting facts can also be learned from the website, now I know for instance that the most exigent consumers are buying their wines in restaurants.
About the wine
Appearances. First of all the bottle is handsome and well made. And so is the wine. Bright, lively claret with many reflections.
Smell. Restrained but very clean nose with hints of fruits.
Palate. Well composed palate with a firm acidic backbone and a distinct polished but hard tannic underpinning which I start to recognise as a Konyári trademark, also found in Ikon’s best wines. Lovely texture as a result of the well integrated and well balanced acidity and smart use of oak. Very gentle acidity indeed. There are no intense aromas in this wine but it displays some fruityness of red currant and cherry. Elegantly styled light and clean character with a pleasant finish. The 14% alcohol is nowhere to be seen.
Price: HUF 2500
Conclusion: Well made wine representing good value for the money.
Hint: I recommend you decant it or simply leave it exposed to air for 60-90 minutes before you drink it. I also liked it most at around 17 centigrades maximum.
I found this very cool theme and fell in love with it. It has some disadvantages though. It doesn’t support searching, pictures on the main page and a decent category display, to name a few. I know it’s annoying, I should know: I’m the most loyal reader and user of the search function of the blog. So please don’t get frustrated, if you find it horrible just drop me a message and I’ll rethink a compromise between look and functionality.
There’s other fantastic news too, for Facebook lovers at least. Now you can like or recommend a post and share this joy with hundreds of your friends. I’m expecing that this will boost traffic to my blog and I can finally get filthy rich (the reason I started it in the first place), leave my miserable job, buy my own winery, get a massive follower base of attractive females and retire. I’d like this to be happenening soon, so please hurry up with the Like buttons.
If you’re fed up with overcrowded, overhyped, wet wine festivals then try out this one. Unlike the flood of wine festivals in Budapest and all major cities this time of the year, artisan beer festivals are rarity or indeed, non existent (that’s why they call it The first I guess). I wasn’t aware there were as many quality artisan breweries in Hungary that could make up a festival but there you are. The festival that will take place between 24-25 September will have 8 breweries present and with different tasting coupons there’s a chance that you can taste many of Hungary’s fine artisan beers and still manage to walk out strtaight to check out what else one of the chicest and most bohemian neighbourhood has to offer. And they promise not just good beer rarities but food that’s different from the clichés so annoyingly polluting the air (and palate) of all wine festivals. The neighbourhood’s restaurants will be responsible for good food. I don’t know which ones exactly but there a couple of local restaurant worth some credit, I’m thinking M, Shalimar and Klassz primarily but I doubt we’ll be lucky enough to see them there. Still, this event sounds interesting enough just for the sake of beer alone.
This is how to get there: http://www.fozdefeszt.hu/megkozelites.html
Now that sartorially speaking the 80s revival is so over and the world’s now arguably ready to embrace the 90s again. Are we?
What were you doing 15 years ago, around this time in 1995? Think about it for a minute!
It’s 1995. Bosnian war is in full swing and deathtolls reaches 250 000. President Clinton’s government intervenes. Paris mayor Jacques Chirac is elected French president. ECU is a virtual currency and EURO-sceptics probably outnumber the rest of us. A 5000-pound car bomb blows up a federal office building in Oklahoma. The Islamic State of Afghanistan comes under attack by the Taliban. Meanwhile in Europe, Oasis and Blur fight the battle of Britpop. Sziget Fesztivál’s daily ticket price almost doubles to HUF 500 (today HUF 12 000). Tricky’s Maxinquaye is elected best album of the year by The Face (other short listed bands include Oasis, Pulp, Radiohead and Portishead, among others). We rent VHS cassettes to watch Seven and Usual Suspects, many others watch Toy Story and Braveheart. A Harvard graduate writes a memoire with the title “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”.
In continental Europe, in a small, mostly harmless Central European country the outlook for an exceptionally good vintage sees the emerging dominance of the “Villány 5″. Winmakers abuse oak in their wines, even Kékfrankos is being “barriqued” (we used the term as a verb back then). Their growing obsession for oak is a lasting romance (well into the new millennium) and tannin establishes itself as the official measurement unit of quality for years. A forest engineer also bets heavily on toasted barrels and blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Kékfrankos. 15 years on one of the bottles will land in the hands of an amateur wine enthousiast.
The Gere flagship wine from 1995 is a real time capsule, it captures the very essence of the Villány wine of the last decade. I finished off my modest collection of Royal Cuvées and other treasures years ago and they were not very good wines by then. This Gere wine isn’t particularily good either but I must admit I kind of miss those times a little. Oak is now out of fashion, Cabernet Sauvignon’s become Villány’s fallen angel (Cabernet Franc rules today with Merlot and inumerous blends) but Attila Gere is still the biggest brand in Hungary’s winemaking. And who knows, the 90s revival may be just around the corner.
I listened to Tricky’s Maxinquaye the other day on vinyl and it still sounds terrific. And so do Oasis, Pulp, Radiohead and all the other britpop bands too. I’m not so sure I’m ready for grunge and the party scene of the 90s though.
The news is everywhere. Cool.
First I couldn’t think of anything in what Pannonhalmi Apátsági Pincészet could possibly excel but their inclination to hypocrisy. I still can’t. So I turned to Google who doesn’t seem to know anything either, so either this is really the beginning of the end of Google or, as I’m now inclined to believe, the Hungarian Wine Cellar of the Year award is just another example of mushroom management practice (keep them in the dark and feed them with rubbish) by wine PR geniuses. Madness doesn’t stop there. Guess who are the folks behind this obscure prize?
The mission statement of one of the organisations responsibles for the award is this:
“It is one of the major assignments of the organisation to guarantee the protection of origin. Therefore it regulates and controls planting as far as location, variety and other specific regulations are concerned. Through preparing and controlling the implementation of rules for the wine communities, it regulates those factors of grape and wine production and partly even of trade, which have major importance and largest impact on the quality. It is the head of the wine community that issues the certificate of origin for each quantity of grape produced, which is the basis in the control of the origin of the wine.
Producers have to declare their production and stock to the wine communities, which process the data electronically.
Another important field of the wine communities’ activity is the formation of the image, or, where it is already established, its protection.
The National Council of Wine Communities acts as a product council, i.e. it is consulted by the government when questions of legislation or market measures or other issues concerning the wine sector are discussed.”
The justification of the award goes something like this:
“… the winery which achieved the utmost publicity for the Hungarian wine, wine culture and highbrowed wine consumption in a given year…”
D’you know what I mean? It’s like the BSA voting for the “software company of the year award” based on the arguments above (or based on whatever criteria, for that matter). Or like Customs officers electing the best transportation firm of the year, awarding the company who did the utmost to publicise transportation.
Good job boys! Well done! Keep up the good work!
Growing Viognier is a tricky business, no wonder very few Hungarians venture in this field. In my opinion, however, Hungarian winemaking desperately needs experimenting and even innovation to find out where it could positively distinguish itself from the rest of the world (and not solely rely, as it currently does, heavily and almost exclusively on the defensive patriotism of the much introverted Hungarian wine consumer). Without having much insight myslef I dare say there seems to exist a market niche for wines like this and novelty sells within a small circle of early adaptors. Sometimes more than it deserves.
The guys in charge of refunding my faulty wine this week refused to do so but offered to exchange my recently purchased Heimann’s Viognier 2007 for a 2009. The 2007 was corked according to the clerk but I only found it tired and oxydated, anyway, not something that should be on the market any more. I evidently wasn’t the first one to return this wine but I am ensured that the 2009 is a much antecipated piece of Szekszárd soil so I took their offer.
Heimann Viognier 2009 has a vibrant, metallic yellow hue with silver reflections (or maybe not, maybe it’s just the lights that make it look like that, this is a kind of uncertainly brought into wine tasting that always amuses me, especially when I read things like this in other people’s reviews). Anyway, it’s clean and relatively pale, unike most Viogniers of ripe grapes. It’s high in alcohol though (13.5%) so I’m a bit confused. Further on, the nose is cool, pleasantly fruity with apple and tropical fruity notes presented in a light fashion, not exaclty the distinct perfum explosion one might expect from the varietal. On the palate it’s thin and doesn’t feature any of the fruits mentioned above or other plant whatsoever. It displays, however, not as unexpectedly as regrettably, a lasting dose of scratchy acidity from the midpalate on.
With all the respect, the pricing of this wine really should be reconsidered.
Price: HUF 2 190
A charming little house on a mini-estate of 2.5 hectares with south-western exposure above Balatonudvari is where up and coming Skrabski Fruzsina’s wines are made (by, or with the isgnificant aid of Zoltán Kurucz winemaker, for the record).
It’s a good reference winery for me because the small (if Skrabski’s estate is “mini-” then we can call it nano-) land I almost bought 2 years ago is just a few hundred meters away. The land I was bidding for was only 0.5 hectar with 8 rows in total, of which the 2 on the side closer to Tihany yielded tremendous Pinot Gris according to the seller, so much better than the next row 2 meters away! If that’s true then those few hundred meters could mean a whole world apart in terms of quality and style but still, it feels like this could have been my wine (were not it made of Olaszrizling, of course). Now you can imagine my excitement!
This Olaszrizling comes in a nice bottle and with a medium-pale lemon yellow color. Fresh nose with apple here. Tight, cool and fresh style on the palate too with a light minerally accent. Well balanced at this point. Unfortunately the wine seems structurally a bit unstable and all the aroma disappears as well after some exposure to air, quickly losing most of it’s charm.
With a little improvement in the cellar and in the vineyards, a bit better pricing and the continued availability of these nice bottles from the shelves of a well known retailer will certainly ensure success for the winery.
Price: HUF 1 700
I appreciate Mr. Szentesi’s experimental apporach which sometimes yields frenetic wines but somehow really rubbish wines also find their way to the market, and when they do they don’t come cheap! This Pinot Noir from 2008 was barely drinkable at start and hardly something Mr. Szentesi should be proud of 2 hours later. C’mon!