What do Tóth “Scheller” István, Szászi, Laposa, Káli Kövek and Válibor have in common? Well, may things. To start with, they’re small or very small wineries focusing on white wines. Then they’re from the Káli medence and the area around (which may well be the most beautiful region of Hungary). They have a well recognisable style. They’re not extremely accessible, but their wines are very affordable, fairly priced wines. Istvándy and Villa Tolnay are already a bit different so let’s not talk about them here.
I like the above winemakers with their imperfections. It’s a shame that their production is probably less than of a medium sized winery’s in Villány, combined. Of course, tourism didn’t do good for the region. Unlike Tokaj, Villány and Somló, this region attracts visitors for many other reasons but wine and the proportion of sophisticated consumers remains tiny whilst Fröccs and bulk wines rule the area. So the main question is: are these wineries capable of taking the wines of the region to the next level? But then it raises other concerns: do they have a driver to do that? These are quite unsettling questions until I realise I don’t care as long as they continue to provide us with such good and interesting wines so cheap.
This Olaszrizling from 2008 is a rather heavy wine, but unlike Tamás’s from Csopak for instance it’s not because of the oak primarily, but perhaps not having been filtered may be one of the causes. With enough substance, 13.5% alcohol and a vibrant, even sharp acidity the wine’s well balanced though. An elderberry-flavored palate with boiled celery tartness and a minerally undertone is enhanced with some restrained fruity notes of apple, quince and pear and a hint of nutmeg. There’s a prickling sensation too especially at the finish which also adds a little to its complexity.
For HUF 1 700 t’s a best buy for those who like the stlye but will disappoint those looking for a clean, polished style.
Price: HUF 1690 (it’s a best buy for those who like the style)
It’s strange how many winemakers employed full-time by major wineries are allowed (and have time to) take care of their own vinyards and cellar. Examples from Demeter to Szepsy (in alphabetic order) show that they often manage to do it pritty well evidently.
I was sold this wine when asking Mr. Szentesi to introduce me to some full-bodied white wine around HUF 2 000. This wasn’t his first choice (not even making it into the top 10 actually) and he hesitated about the price but I took it because I’ve never heared of this winery and it turns out there aren’t many good value wines in this range.
Bright golden yellow. Fairly complex nose with boiled vegetables and veggie stock and lot of Furmint grape aromas, with hints of honey and flower. And a mineral undertone. Very rustic.
I didn’t like the taste first, but I put it in the fridge for a while and the magic happened. The same rustic stlye dominates the palate with more salt and tons of rocks. Some residual sugar is counterbalanced by good acidity keeping the flow into a lengthy finish. Mouthfilling, very acidic with lot of stewed apple-faloured substance too. When it’s heated up a little it becomes harshly bitter which is slightly appalling. Chilled it’s very mineral with a lot of lemon. And more lemon.
This wine is very close to its peak, or at it. You’ll enjoy it very much if you pay attention to its temperature and it’s a rare bargain.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 2000 (this is how much I paid, but not sure about the actual price)
I was contacted recently by someone not entirely unfamiliar with Hungarian wines asking about the Hungarian Syrahs and I had to admit that I found most efforts in this direction pretty forgottable, at least until I stopped sampling Hungarian Syrahs a few years ago. The only exceptions were the Syrahs of Gróf Buttler, which, vintage from vintage, convinced me about some potential.
This Syrah 2007 of Heimann family winery is less expensive. This is our first encounter.
Purplish hue with a pink rim.
Dark character on the nose, with veal steak, well done, mingled with caramel.
What first hit me concerning it’s very well composed palate was the great texture. Powdery, soft and ripe tannins which further smoothen into a long, straight finish accompanied by a berry fruit syrup element and a tobacco accent. Not very expressive wine fruit-wise. But from the mid palate fine dark chocolate flows into the eternity. And underneath it lies a great structure with firm, perfectly integrated acidity. Very solid chracter, structured style with probably the best tannin I’ve had this year.
Price: HUF 3 000
Behind this stupid name is a blend of Sárgamuskotály, Hárslevelű and Furmint, late harvested in 2007. Tokaj late harvest wines are not only often very good and smart alternative to 3 or 4 Puttonyos Aszú wines, but they reach the consumers quicker than the Aszó wines and I’ve been looking forward to the sweet wines of 2007. Another reason to open this bottle was that I often drink late harvest (mostly Tokaj) wines when preparing sushi at home. Don’t ask me why, it happend once a few years ago and I find them a very good aperitif before sushi and they go surprisingly well with the rice vinegar and the raw fish. I didn’t have my usual suspect in stock this time so I went for this recent purchase from Degenfeld.
Medium-deep yellow hue between lemon and golden, nothing special there. The nose is relatively intense and full of tea with a floral accent. Hárslevelű certainly left its footprint there. It has a mouthfilling palate of ripe papaya, very ripe apricot and peach, quite sweet, supported by well integrated acidity. Good length with returning tea dominance and quite a lot of nutmeat. Later tangerine and tobacco too. Stirring it more will release hints of lemon juice and blood-orange aromas.
Fortissimo 2008 is already on sale but this 2007 will still age well, but I suggest you to enjoy it now.
Score: 6, 6-
Price: HUF 2 600
I stopped by a major Hungarian wine retailer (for the 3rd time this week, I’d call this a trend) to find out there’s a fall sale going on so I had no choice, I bought a couple of selected items. This is the first one of them, originally picked to be paired with Indian meal but ended up as an aperitif.
Not being a huge Tramini fan myself (I’m not sure if Tramini or Zöldveltelini is the one I like less, Irsai Olivér’s certainly beating both, downwards) I thought this was a good choice and Györgykovács always made good, if not excellent Traminis in my opinion.
The nose is very clean, mostly gooseberry flower syrup. The palate is a well balanced mix of lovely acidity and dry extracts. The gooseberry comes thorugh into a mouthfilling, intense falvor of the same bush. There are elements of medicine and herbs too, mingled with a rather interesting thermal water appeal (well, to some, I suppose). Later a gentle acacia-flower-ish element too, which brings back childhood memories of sucking juice from the acacia flower as a kid. And this wine carries mineral lembrances of Somló as well, of course.
Technically, this wine is super. I wish I could appreciate it more.
Interestingly enough to me, the wine gets better as the glass warms up a little.
Score: 5+/6 (people not so distant from this grape would appreciate it more)
One note: the said retailer has a cool shop near Lánchíd where not even the clerks can ruin the experience. It’s unbelievable we had to wait 20 years to have this in Budapest.
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.
The reason you don’t see too many entries about Pinot Noir on BPDR is because most efforts by Hungarian winemakers have brought very mixed results but mostly unremarkable ones.
Another generalisation I often commit is stating that Hungarian wines rarely age well, with the exception of many Tokaji Aszú wines.
Fortunately, I only recognised that the bottle I was about to open (a random selection) was 7 years old so I only had to deal with only one of my pre-concepts.
Not so pale as you would expect, this Pinot is almandine of various tones. The bouquet is punch and brandy, spiced with clove and cinnamon. Later pomegranate and nectarine too.
Layered texture on the palate, firm and almost crisp on top of a soft and dusty underpinning due to very well defined tannins. An hour later the structure will be dominantly grip and firm but nicely styled, supported by rounded acidity all over the way and a delicate, tasty bitter finish (some might complain about the alcohol though). Creamy sweetness mingle with leaf tobacco very pleasantly.
Thin but rich, ripe and fresh (suprisingly so considering its age) in the same time, this Pinot drinks extremely well.
Price: not available
Istvándy is a relatively big winery with 40 ha on Tóth-Hegy and Csobánc in the Badacsony wine region. Still, it’s very unknown compared to many of its peers.
No vintage on the label so I only guess it was a 2006. Funnily enough, the description of the wine on the winery’s website doesn’t mention the vintage either but it says it’s full of tropical fruit aromas so it must be a different one from what I’m reviewing here.
This one’s very clean, bright, with matt greenish reflections.
After 18 months in oak this wine is relatively free of its side-effects. This Kéknyelű has a light, slightly perfumed floral nose of gooseberry and elderflower of medium-intensity. The palate is very clean elderberry juice, a bit salty and there’s a nettle element too. Well structured, with a relatively thick and grip character and firm acidity a bit over the top maybe. Good length, some aromas still showing.
Score: 6 points
Price: HUF 2 600
This is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Zweigelt from Ferenczi Pálma of Szekszárd. None of the grapes is exaggerated in this cuvée and neither is the oak, in spite of the 14 months this wine has seen in barrique.
It opens with a bouquet which is rather Szekszárd than anything else with a not so pleasant stuffy accent but this will clear out in 30 minutes.
The nose is then red pepper, a hint of sour cherry, not too heavy. Medium-bodied wine filled with enough substance needed to get the support from his hard, firm, yet very pleasant tannic backbone. Structure is the most prominent component of this wine but it has a well-composed, slightly sweet, bit fruity palate too. I liked it a lot.
Drink it now, but it would also age well for another 1-2 years.
Price: HUF 2 800
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