The future role of Juhfark in Somló has always been debated and fortunately I’m not qualified to enter into this seemingly never ending discussion. That this grape plays an important role in marketing the region is however certain but whether this should be the flagship varietal of Somló is another question. I didn’t find out this time but I found some very promising wines, and some appalling wines too.
Once again, these notes are quick tasting notes taken in horrible conditions therefore they’re short and not complete, but hopefully they’re good indicators of each wine’s quality and their potential.
Hollóvár: this Juhfark has exactly the same flint character on the nose as the Olaszrizling with a melted butter and vanilla undertone and later with light gooseberry aromas. On the palate it’s firm, with mineral and herby notes. Score: 6
Somlói Apátsági Pince: this one has an exciting fruity-floral character on the nose. It’s more complex, intense but refreshing in the same time and very pleasant. It’s broad palate has a tiny bit of sweetness but there’s also enough acidity to balance it and wet-stone and a salty-minerality gives it further more depth. Long and complex finish. This wine stands out with the intensity on both the palate and the nose and with its aromatic salty-sweet balance. Very good value for the money. Score: 7+
Spiegelber: clean, intense, fairly ripe apple nose with a butter edge and an apple-skin element. well balanced with a pleasantly sharp acidity providing backbone to this light-medium-bodied wine. A bit salty. Another exceptionally good value for the money. Score: 7-
Kolonics, Juhfark, 2007: this Juhfark has a heavy, old character of old-school handicraft winemaking. Score: 3
Tornai, Juhfark (Aranyhegy): flint on the nose with a woody element. On the palate, veggie soup. Score: 5
Tornai, juhfark (Grófi): with a veggie-soup character on the nose, this wine is more complex than the Aranyhegy juhfark. It’s well integrated on the palate with good presence of pear and soup elements. Score: 6-
Bogdán: like the Kolonics Juhfark, this one also has an old-school handicraft character with sulphit elements on the nose and on the palate. There’s some weedy note on the nose. Score: 3/3+
Bogdán- Juhfar Késői szüret: 3 points
Despite the disappointing wineries (Kolonics and Bogdán) this tasting confirms that Somló and Juhfark has a promising future in Hungary’s winemaking and ensures a major space in my personal cellar for these wines.
It is widely believed that the Somló wines have a strong local character, the terroir providing foundation for it. Tasting some of the the most respected local winemakers’ wines side by side will give you another impression though. Others even question whether Somló, already the smallest of Hungary’s historical wine regions, can be regarded as one single region proposing that Somló mountain (a hill, actually) could be split into upper (more volcanic rocky ascent) and lower (more flat, with sometimes powdery soil) regions of very different local climate, not to mention that only the south-western slopes with bigger solar exposure should be really considered as part of the Somló region.
With two persons on average sharing a square meter of the beautiful Festetics Palota in Budapest, the Somló Évjáratbemutató 2008 was far from being an ideal place to find answers to my questions.
These young wines are barrel samples so they’re still expected to change and develop a lot, so the following notes are just impressions rather than result of careful analysis. The scores are hopefully reflecting this potential but I may have made more mistakes this time than usual. Also note that all wines are from 2008 except otherwise stated.
Bazaltbor – Olaszrizling: This Olaszrizling has a fruity nose with apple and pear aromas also on the palate. Fresh, young with lively acids. Score: 4
Bazaltbor Olaszrizling Válogatás: Now this one has a powerful, fresh and clean elderberry bouquet and a more elegant character in general. Still a medium-bodied wine but much better integrated and well-balanced. Score: 5+
Györgykovács – Olaszrizling: This Olaszrizling has an intense, complex mineral nose. On the palate it’s more simple with a small bitterness, and it’s very dry. Score: 5+/6-
Dénes Hegybirtok – Olaszrizling: Vanilla and melted butter aromas on the nose, quite intensely. Has not been filtered yet so its very dense in color and on the nose too. Good texture, creamy but low acidity. The sweet sensation on the palate is a result of the malolactic fermentation as it has no residual sugar. Score: 4
Spiegelber – Olaszrizling: Complex pear and floral aromas on the nose but more simple on the palate, although full-bodied. Very dry with pear notes and a bit of minerality. Score: 4+
Kreinbacher – Olaszrizling: A distinguished bright, lively color. Great nose, very complex of clean elderberry and gooseberry elements and a sulphite and city gas underpinning. Later on the nose: Veggie and spicy chicken stock with lovage and flint, lot of flint. Less intense on the palate, gentle and rounded, the wine has a more mineral and ripe character. Full-bodied with an appealing structure and nicely textured. There’s promise of finess too already. Score: 6+/7
Hollóvár – Olaszrizling: An appalling city gas nose with sulphit and flint and a chalky mineral undertone. Light-medium bodied wine with a nice structure. Very dry. No wine will divide people as much as this one. Score: 6+/7-
Somlói Apátsági Pince - Olaszrizling: Rich bouquet with an unusual Veggie soup with lovage on the nose and very pleasant apple-pear aromas. Firm on the palate, with the same Veggie soup with lovage! Boiled, spicy vegetarian notes with a mineral undertone. Very good one. Score: 6+/7-
Szent Ilona – Olaszrizling: Intense, lively floral nose but very simple on the palate. Score: 4
Kolonics – Olaszrizling: It’s very closed on the nose and it has this handicraft character with a large barrell element. On the palate salty-bitterness, interesting. Score: 5
To wrap up, it’ll be interesting to see how these wines will develop, especially Hollóvár. One thing is certain: the styles are more relevant here than terroir or the grape. On the other hand, there might as well be a Somló terroir, but it’s not yet the time to discuss this.