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
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
Funny name, funny label, so refreshing to see after having seen so many chateaux emerging from nowhere – as I write this I realise that as a rule of thumb you could easily pick mediocre wines simply by selecting one from one of the many Hungarian “chateaux” (there are exceptions though). The fact is, there are virtually no chateaux left in Hungary and even less with a history in winemaking. Hétszőlő actually has a chateau but they’re not calling themselves chateau (although they’re owned by French, well partly). Akutyafáját reminds me of Orsolya Pince’s early labels, drawings made by children, now by a teenager, all suggesting that we all (in the wine scene) are taking ourselves too seriously. The whole scene btw reminds me of a song by The Cribs (Hey Scensters), a great (probably the greatest) indie band currently being ruined by Johnny Marr. But Akutyafáját is different, also from Eger, from a wineamker who apparently thinks a lot about his wife (or he’s more ironic than we’d think), this wine is simple and straightforward: affordable, lovable, and Hungary’s mass market needs wines just like this one. It has somewhat of a terroir character, something of Eger but it’s also very accessible by everyone. Believe me. Here’s why. The nose is full of spices, clove mainly, mingled with some burnt wood and cherry/sour cherry – already very attractive (the wine needs that to be honest, it’s appearance is quite regular, medium-pale ruby, nothing exceptionnal there). Fresh, slightly scretchy tannins first on the palate supporting a rather sweetish, friendly character. Firm, but not overly, with young but gentle tannins providing excellent backbone for this rather small-medium bodied wine full of freshness and fun, with notes of cinnamon falvoured apple pie and cherry compote. Fairly good length with just a hint of bitterness to be detected sometimes, more than that dried thyme and savory. This wine is excellent for long, friendly conversations, or for exhausted folks like myself drinking and blogging. I’m a fan of St. Andrea and only now I realise that this is the first post about one of the best wineries of Eger (and Hungary).
And this is the best red wine I’ve seen under HUF 2000 for, like, ever…
Price: HUF 1 845
ps: I’d like to dedicate this wine (and post) to a friend from Eger who turned 34 today and will become a father in a couple of days. He has no idea about I writing this blog and I hope he’ll never have, but I hope Samu won’t have to waste so many brain cells as we did in the nineties by drinking rubbish Eger wines. So cheers, for a better future.
Another blind tasting, another early recongition. Third in a series of Sauvignon Blanc international pairings, this tasting brought a surprising result. Or not.
Springfield Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (from New Zealand) has a clean, very intense Sauerkraut nose. Pretty much that’s all I can tell because this comes with such intensity that no other fingerprint of any aroma can be detected. I was suspecting a wine fault but the wine looks so nice (exactly like Rókusfalvy’s), so well balanced, nicely textured and crisp that I’m not sure. The palate is very similar, with millions of tiny little bubbles. There’s a hint of parsley but otherwise it’s the strangest bacterially fermented cabbage I’ve ever encountered in a wine.
Rókusfalvy Sauvignon Blanc 2007 has an appealing medium corn hue with greenish reflections. Fairly rich although not too intense bouquet with gooseberry and mineral notes.
Salty mineral palate supported by vibrant acidity. Some vegetable notes like nettle, celery and fennel aromas later turning into a more mineral nose, but the palate remains similarly complex too. Although aged in barrique, it doesn’t feel like that.
Good wine, fairly priced.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 2 500
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.
2003 produced some of the first really remarkable great white wines this country’s seen in this millennium (just think about Mandolás Furmint). We learend to appreciate this vintage even more after the tough 2004 and 2005 vintages. The glory of most of these wines, however, didn’t last for more than 4 years, some of them starting a sharp decline as early as in 2006. On the other hand, some of these wineries couldn’t repeat their performance up until now (again, think about Mandolás). The wines from the north bank of Balaton have been having hard times as well. Still, or maybe because if this, I was very happy to discover this already forgotten Kereklevelű (known as Chardonnay beyond the Carpathians) in my cellar from Tóth Sándor (aka Scheller).
Medium-deep hay on the glass, the wine opens slowly to show some flinty notes on the nose. On the palate an almond element mingles with lot of rustic, but attractable minerality. This latter becomes denser, just as the whole wine, after one hour and a half. Medium-large bodied wine supported by lower-medium acidity (which means there could be a little bit more) and a slightly bitter minerality. A bit sweet, the wine is still fresh and in good shape right now with soft, slightly sandy tannin. The marzipan and almond is later faded by dried apricot and even richer minerality. I sometimes sense a botrytis-ish element in the background.
This wine will give you lot of pleasure for only HUF 1 600 especially if you can give it an hour or so before drinking.
Price: HUF 1 600
I first appreciated the affordable wines of Paternina of Rioja on my first trip to Madrid and the Banda Azul brand accompanied us through our journey through Toledo, Córdoba, Sevilla, Ronda, Cabo de Gata to Segovia. When we went back few years later to visit le Pays Basque and País Vasco, we visited their winery near Haro (I think, btw, that everyone should visit that land if for nothing else but their tapas bars). I picked up a cheap Chardonnay there, from 2006. This ultra-light wine of pale greenish color is fresh and young with a celery and fennel character supported by crisp acidity in smaller quantity. It’s still slightly sparkling on the palate. This wine is a decent 3+ points effort and provided a good basis of comparison to the very different Áldozóhegyi.
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.
Levendula Pince started as a winery in 2006 then called Vági Pince. In 2009 the estate consists of 2 hectares but they also have 1 hectare of “borrowed” land under cultivation which was “thrown at them” as the owner puts it. Lovas is a small village above Balatonfüred and this part of the outskirts of the village are particularly inaccessible by motorized 4-wheel vehicles. Once there, the view from the entrance of the cellar is stunning. Below us spreading are steep slopes planted with 5 different grapes in well-maintained rows running downhill on the rusty rocky soil so typical around Balaton. The top of the cellar and a rather big surrounding area is covered in Lavendel – hence the name of the winery. The place is beautiful and the owners and winemaker are very friendly people. We’re immediately offered bread with pork fat and fresh onion rings between apologies for not having prepared anything in the traditional oven of the estate (Kemence) but of course we didn’t book such things since we ended up here after having just fled from Söptei Pince, a quite disappointing place if you ask me. With only 15 minutes left before closing the winery we are immediately taken into the back-end of the recently built cellar and shown the 225l+ oak barrels and stainless steel tanks and 1 minute later our glass is full with Juhfark 2007. About two hours later we emerged from the cellar content and happy.
Note: the first three are barrel samples.
Juhfark 2007 is a barrel sample and as such, quite raw material. Pale hey hue. It has the most unusual dill aroma nose with Chardonnay grape notes and a hint of elderberry. On the palate dill mingle with gooseberry and other small green berry fruit elements with a green apple accent supported by abundant fresh, lively, slightly harsh acidity. Thin-bodied, light, quite acidic.
I am told by the winemaker that yields are high, they don’t really care about reducing it. The grapes were harvested in the beginning of October.
Score: 3+ points
Price: HUF 1 000 (but also available in 1,5 litre bottles at about HUF 1 500)
Chardonnay 2007 is very pale with celery and other greenish aromas on the nose, a little bit less intensely than Juhfark’s. Thick and similarly structured as Juhfark with a little bit less acidity, but still quite firm and grip.
Price: HUF 1 000
Olaszrizling 2007 is another very pale wine very similar to the previous two in every aspect, with the difference of acacia and unripe walnut aromas on the palate and a gooseberry-Traubi accent.
Score: 3+ points
Price: HUF 1 000
All three wines above are very acidic, overly, if you ask me and I only recommend them for acid fanatics.
Olaszrizling Késői Szüret 2007 is a late harvest but dry wine and clearly the premium white wine of Levendula Pince. A slightly darker but still quite pale hue in appearance. A nice, warm and even sweet nose with floral notes. It reminds me of Hétszőlő’s late harvested Kövérszőlő in this aspect. Light but full of floral notes. On the palate more polished with gentle acidity and sligly greenish tannin. Wood leaf, parsley and green vegetable notes. It only has 6g/L residual sugar but 15,2% alcohol. And it’s OK.
Price: HUF 1 500 (and best buy)
Cabernet Sauvingnon 2006 is medium dark ruby with an almost brownish rim.
On the palate dark chocolate supported by lively tannins and fresh acidity. Dense, concentrated and upper-medium bodied. This is a very decent effort from a region which is not famous for its red wines and from a winery not famous from low yields.
Price: HUF 1 500 (and it’s a best buy too, of course)