The first bottle I opened was suspiciously wrong, not corked but oxidated and bitter (oddly enough the very same open bottle smelled elegantly 2 weeks later). But this review is based on a new bottle.
From grapes picked from 10-20 year old Olaszrizling vines this wine was aged in new oak for 10 months in contact with some of the lee. Or aged for 9 months in 3-5 years old barrels of different sizes, depending on which information you trust from the website of the merchant (finding them will be easy, both versions are on the same page).
Here’s a thought, so just skip the next few lines and jump to the review if not interested in something personal. One of the reasons I stopped reading Hungarian wine reviews is that most reviews were either repeating too many clichés (Kreinbacher’s minerality, Olaszrizling’s almond finish, or an ideal food pairing is a Paprikás-Turul) even when they weren’t there or trying too hard to be original and to show off to my taste (other reasons include their authors often being too biased and narrow-minded). I must confess I didn’t find the above elements in this wine but this time I checked the bottle in due time and I can confirm I made no mistake taking proper note of the varietal like the other day.
This Olaszrizling is medium pale golden yellow with faded greenish reflections. Light nose with celery and a floral accent. Similarily styled palate with a rustic tartness from the midpalate. Dim acidity gone quickly, the wine has a short finish. Fairly buttered when chilled. Dry character with restrained fruity notes of grapefruit, pineapple and apple.
Score: 4+ points
Price: HUF 2000
All attempts to produce really good red wine in the northern Balaton region have failed so far. The truth is you can barely find half decent efforts. Villa Tolnay have been supplying the market with perhaps the most stable quality of white wines over the years. And yet they’re still betting heavily on red wines.
Névtelen 2006 is almost terracotta colored. Warm, very light nose with hints of spices, caramel and walnut. Later wild mushrooms and earthy notes. Very dry, very thin, with a slightly bitter tannic backbone. Pretty vacant.
Price: HUF 2 600
According to the merchant’s website, the grandson of those who bought this pice of land of Köveskál in 1945 took over the winery three years ago which means this might be his first tentative to produce a decent wine on the volcanic hills of northern Balaton. He managed to do it by blending Olaszrizling (2/3) and Riesling (1/3).
Not very intense rocky mineral smell. On the palate it looks older than it is and it’s not fresh either. Very subtle acidity except the finish where it finally shows lemon scented acidity. Good length, stretching throughout all the way in a linear manner.
I find this wine a little bit middle of the road. I’d reverse the proportions to give this wine a more distinct terroir edge and allow bigger body. But not a bad start.
Score: 4 points
Price: HUF 1 950
There was a time when I thought that Szent Gaál was about to become the next big thing but it never happened. Is it because they’re present in hypermarkets all over the place (so no way wine snobs will ever write anything good about them), or they didn’t improve much while others made a good progress I’m not sure, but maybe because of both.
Dark ruby just the way it should be. Lovely sour cherry marmalade nose mingled with ripe mulberry and a hint of dark chocolate. Very edgy tannins on the palate, quite hard and a tiny bit tart too. Very nice, long finish with dark chocolate.
One thing is certain: Szent Gaál may not have produced their great wine yet (it’s certainly not this one) but they never produced shamelessly bad wine either, unlike some big names form this region or further to the south-west.
Score: 4+ (now I would give it 5-)
Price: HUF 3 700
Ikon is a joint venture of some members of the Hungarian wine community including János winemakeroftheyear2008 Konyári, now with an area of 39 hectares in the southern Balaton region.
Bright golder yellow hue. The nose is primarily Chardonnay, light, lovely, warm, with hints of vanilla (not oaky) and herbs.
A surprsingly mouthfilling wine but in a very oily way with a rather sweet appeal. Soft, silky texture. Light aromas of ripe apple and wild pear and hints of melon without remarkable depth. Very subtle acidity for a relatively fat wine. But that glycerin will feel more integrated after only a few minutes already.
This wine’s very much unlinke the 2007 as described on the winery’s website. But it’s very enjoyable.
Score: 4+/5- points
Price: HUF 1 100
Next in the row in the hunting for good red wines under HUF2000 series this Kékfrankos was recommended by a merchant who’s very proud of his discoveries of unknown or smaller wineries (as a matter of fact Levendula Pince’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a best seller in his store ever since I introduced it to him but I wasn’t so lucky with his recommendations so far). I was a bit disappointed by a bottle of Losonci Kékfrankos the guy once recommended to me and other minor disappointments followed.
This Halmosi Kékfrankos has a good-looking bottle (I keep forgetting taking pictures lately). The nose suggests very ripe material, aged in large used barrel ( but that’s my guess only).The reality’s different. Clear nectarine aroma on the palate but the wine is too acidic which doesn’t suite this rather thin wine. Relatively long tannic-bitter finish.
Price: HUF 2 100
So as promised I’m publishing the rest of my notes from Vinagora Borgála now, I couldn’t do it earlier. These are just impressions rather than proper tasting notes anyway, but here they are: as I said, the white wines in general were a bit disappointing this year, but not all of them.
Nyakas Pinot Griggio 2008, for example, was surprisingly good with a fresh, sweet apple, ripe lemon and grapefruit aromas on the nose and on the palate. Scored at around 5-/5 points. Well balanced, medium acidic wine. I was looking forward to Szeremley Kéknyelű 2005 after our recent vertical tasting of previous vintages but it couldn’t improve the average rating. Although it has an interesting, even exciting Kéknyelű character on the nose (not very intense though) with greenish notes, it has a too acidic and too empty palate, firm, with a citrus element but it’s still one of the most overrated white wines of Hungary, it’s unique selling point is the rarity (perhaps for a reason?). Szőke Mátyás Mátrai Szürkebarát 2007 is more attractive with papaya and green walnut bouquet and more subtle acidity on the palate, scoring 5- points now. I expected more from Laposa’s Bazaltbor’s Badacsonyi Riesling 2002 but it was only good. With a citrus, passion-fruit and breadcrumb nose – I expected more minerality. On the palate oaky-vanilla mingle with hints of minerality. 5-, 5 points here. I was positively surprised by Szatmári Szigligeti Zeusz Válogatás 2006, starting with a medium-dark corn hue with nice greenish reflections. Comes with a heavy character of tea and wet hay aromas on the nose, later matte, lavage and a hint of minerality too. The palate is tea mingled with lot of salty-minerality, full and fairly weighty. Burnt almond, praline and caramel, burnt walnut notes with a salty touch. Scores 5+ points. Karádi-Berger Tokaji Furmint 2007 has the most suspicious industrial apple-juice nose ever (from a very specific company in the south of Balaton), with some litchi and a sour-sweet accent. The palate is the same apple-juice. Interesting.
Last weekend was a typical late October Saturday weather so we decided to go for the red wines after a short warm-up with what was supposed to be the best Királyleányka out there (according to our wine merchant friend, but perhaps the meaning has lost in translation).
Bolyki’s Királyleányka 2008 is a very pale of its kind, almost watery. Very closed on the nose with hints of apple aroma. Brutal acidity on the palate, very fresh, harsh with unripe gooseberry and grapefruit notes. Thick wine with young acidity, bringing back not too far memories of Levendula wines.
Price: HUF 1 100
Ebner Cabernet Franc 2007 has deep purplish color and a nice move. Very closed on the nose only opening a little bit after an hour with chocolate aroma. On the palate dense but a bit one dimensional, rather small-medium bodied. This dischotomy also aplies to the tannin which is powdery and hard in the smae time. The palate has a plum character. Pleasant to drink, but a bit too pricy.
Price: HUF 3 000
I’ve been very much looking forward to the Pók Tamás/Kovács Nimród Winery – Nimród 3 (I I I) 2003. I liked the Nimród 2 for its soft heaviness. Nimród 3, named modestly after the cash-man behind the Monarchia brand has a deep ruby color. Quite closed nose, at least more closed than I expected, with aged ham and red meat elements and later fine dark chocolate. The same flesh character on the palate supported by very rounded, subtle acidity and velvety, soft and slightly oily tannins. The wine wouldn’t open even after two hours. Dense, but not intensive, with hints of cherry aromas. The wine has an overall soft character. It’s a pleasant wine but ridiculously overpriced. (Only 1500 bottles made).
Price: HUF 15 000 (if you can find one)
Bországgyűlés’s been over for a week but I still have some notes left that I would like to share here. The shift towards white wines which started when I decided to drink more Hugnarian wines a bit more than a year ago has left its mark on the ratio of reds and whites but I didn’t entirely give up.
Sauska Cuvée 13 from 2008 is a beautifully colored medium-dark ruby wine with purplish reflections made of 70% Syrah and 15%-15% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Jammertal area. Light, young, warm and slightly sweet nose with anise and clove aromas. Nicely textured on the palate with powdery (later oily) tannins and polished acidity. 14% alcohol is a bit over the top for this upper-medium bodied, but dense wine. Score: 5+/6-
Bujdosó Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is an average medium-bodied wine without major faults or character. Fresh tannins and nice acidity. Score: around 4+
You may remember that I was quite satisfied with Bujdosó’s Altanus white cuvée. Now Bujdosó Altanus 2007 has seen 10-12 months in oak barrels of 225l. It has a warm nose with a celery-vegetable character and black pepper notes. Quite average on the palate. Score: 4+/5-
Szeleshát Merlot 2007(?)was aged 80% in second use and 20% first use barrique. The 15% alcohol might be too much for some in this medium-bodied wine with the slightly unripe tannins. The palate has a black pepper character. Interesting enough.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite grapes and I believe that Hungary would be able to produce good Sauvignon Blancs but so far little effort has been made to fill in a gap on the market left by a virtually non-existing supply of foreign wines, including SB. Where is Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc standing compared to its European and new world competitors? Do we stand a chance as long as quality is concerned, especially when price is taken into account? Is New Zealand really better than France? Should Hungary destroy all its SB plantations once and for all? Are we ever going to export Sauvignon Blanc?
We’ll not necessarily give an answer to these questions, perhaps we’ll be only scratching the surface but at least we’ll try: Peter from borwerk.de and I decided to try to taste as many Hungarian SBs as we can put our hands on and taste each of them in pair with a foreign Sauvignon Blanc. Here’s the first sprint’s result.
Domaine Des Corbillieres is a family winery from the Loire (Sologne wine region) near Blois, Tours and Chambord (boy, do I love the Loire castles!) with a long history and consisting today of 23 hectares of which 13 are Touraine Blanc Sauvignon. 2008 was excellent year in Touraine, on the South-bank of Loire. The Touraine 2005 was a Wine Advocate 90 points wine.
2007 was a year in Balaton described by many winemakers as “rather difficult” but the Figulas didn’t complain. So let’s see.
The tasting was blind but not for long. After the first sniff when our noses got near the glass there were no secrets any more.
The Touraine has pale lemon color with greenish reflections. Very intense nose, soft and gentle with lot of litchi, papaya and maracujá (passion fruit) aromas. On the palate very fresh and firm with lot of grip, metallic (and grapefruit flavored) acidity and perfectly integrated structure. Crisp, buoyant, young but elegant acidity with a salty accent, flowing into a virtually endless finish. Very zippy wine. Goodness, what a wine this is for the price of a small pizza. Score: 6+/7-
In my eyes it’s a real bargain not just for everyday drinking.
The sauvignon Blanc from Balatonfüred (Balatonszőlős, actually) has a slightly deeper hue and a it’s closed on the nose with green apple, salt cured and spiced Iberian ham (or pancetta?) and veggie soup notes, definitely more closed than the Touraine. Shows also little on the palate with some greenish freshness and veggie notes with a softer texture. Medium acidity but structurally much inferior to Touraine. Score: 4
The wines, believe it or not, are both priced at around HUF 1800 even with the recently week forint and shipment cost included (well, the Touraine was brought from Germany free of shipment cost, but still). I always feared that I’d been a little bit biased in favor of Figula which may have been the case but this blind tasting reveals I’m afraid what the real value of this wine is.
Touraine Corbillieres facts sheet andquotes from their website:
AGE OF VINE
-13 to 43 Years
TYPE OF SOIL
- Sand on a clay bed of the Sologne region.
-No chemical fertilizer, only organic matter, controlled production by a very strict debudding. Leaves thinned out.
-Steeping for 1 month with natural ferments, at a temperature of 16 – 18º, then left to lie until spring.
-Delicate and with a floral aroma, this wine is rich and fruity, well balanced and give a lasting freshness to the palate.
Goes well with Asparagus, fish and all shellfish
Serving temperature 10º.