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)
Lovely nose, very attractive indeed and fairly complex too. Very fresh, with dry cut grass, thyme but mainly rosemary mingled with fresh nettle tea. It doesn’t stop there, releasing citrus notes with a perfum-y character adding a ripe apple accent. Well integrated, vibrant acidity and a juicy character on the palate with a salty, chalky mineral undertone. There’s a hint of bitterness from the mid-palate but that’s alright. Lower-medium body, good length, drinks very well and quickly and it’s almost as good when it warms up to room temperature as chilled.
One of the best Hungarian Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had and it’s definitely a good value for the money.
Score: 6+/7- (now I would even say 7, but I always publish the fresh impression)
Price: HUF 3 000
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
Two mature reds, the other one was a super toscan from Castello Di Fonterutoli called Siepi 1996 side by side today.
Duennium 2000 of Vylyan is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from a classic vintage.
Unpenetrably dark whatever color, more or less black. Very intense chocolate nose, not so much dark chocolate as simple plain chocolate. With it’s dense appearance and bouquet it evokes memories of that unusually warm and long summer of the year 2000. The very same feeling’s carried through onto the palate. But unlike many Villányi cuvées and CSs of the late nineties, this wine has velvely tannins and a soft texture (after 15 months in new oak). Later a bit harder in character with still fresh acidity. Full-bodied wine with a medium long finish. Hints of farmyard elements and sweetness, but fundamentally tons of mouthfilling melted chocolate. Remarkably short of fruity notes.
Score: 6+, 7-
The Supertoscan is 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot. Like Duennium, this blend also has a chocolate character on the nose and on the palate too, in a more restrained way, but also little fruity.
This is however a slightly thinner wine more of a grippy style, very consistently so even after hours. Very well integrated, better structured, well balanced. Hints of very ripe forest berry fruits. Very firm with good length. It will age well for another 5-10 years.
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
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
Still about Vinagora 2009, I have to state it again that the red line-up this year was great with lots of varietals of many producers from mainly Hungary and most of them really good ones. I didn’t necessarily agree with the judges and their description of the wines and the selected wines below do not reflect any preference over the other, non-reviewed wines which were present in too big number to be taken into account. So this is just a list of some of the wines which were displayed in the first section of the whole exhibited lot. Only one complaint here: almost all of these wines could have been 3-5 degrees Celsius cooler than they were to show their best. Still…
Heumann Terra Tartaro 2007 is made of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30%-30% Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Deep cherry-purplish color, the way I like it. Dense nose although very fresh with woody unripeness and tons of sour cherry syrup with blueberry notes and a hint of fine black tea and a tobacco accent. This cuvée has a fruit-packed palate with high concentration of ripe plum and sloe. Quite dense with oily, slightly harsh tannins with a hint of black-pepper and a bit too young acidity, so the texture could be better but I think it will be. Still too young, this wines scores around 6 points right now but I’m looking forward to how it’ll develop in the next 2-3 years.
The younger brother of it is Cuvée Segreto 2007 with 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and 10% Portugieser. This one has a warm nose of blackberry-jam. Very fruity palate of various berry fruits, more than Terra Tartaro. This may not be such a “serious” wine as it’s older brother but it certainly is in better shape right now, with appealing cherry and sour cherry aromas, better texture and a fairly weighty body. Quite a polished style, the high alcohol couldn’t ruin it. Therefore it scores 6+ points right now.
Made of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Pinot Noir, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot Bock Cuvée 2005 sounds like an interesting blend. The wine has a brownish color. Intense earthy nose with tobacco and fortified wine notes. Very ripe plum and berry fruit jam elements mingled with earth notes and tobacco, supported by firm, but not too heavy tannic backbone.
Bock Capella Cuvée 2006 has a deep brownish tone and a beautiful move in the glass. The nose is of sweet-alcoholic chocolate character. Well balanced though, full-bodied, supported by slightly powdery tannin and rounded acidity. Scores around 7 points.
Bárdos Imperiál Cuvée 2007 has an intense fresh sloe bouquet with hints of woody-black pepper and sour cherry. Fruity palate with cherry, sour cherry and sour cherry core bitterness which suits the wine. Dense material, a bit too acidic but it’s fine. This wine stands out with its reasonable price, less than half of the others here and it’s almost as good as some of those.
Sauska 5 2006 is almost black, beautiful and elegant with an exciting move. Very intense palate, dense, perfectly balanced and packed with dark fruits, mainly plum. Fresh but ripe with very fine silky texture. A bit too alcoholic with a hint of sour-cherry core bitterness and car seat leather.
Sauska 7 2006 looks very similar in character to Sauska 5 to me with a bit more black pepper and alcohol, lot of chocolate and a slightly unripe feeling.
This serie served well to confirm how Sauska wines represent a very different approach to winemaking from the “old school” like Bock (and other more traditional Villány wineries) while Heumann is in the middle, but maybe closer to Sauska.
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)
Figula Winery has been my top pick from the north bank of lake Balaton for many years. But this was my first visit to their Balatonfüred cellar since the “boys” took over the family winery after the tragic death of the winemaker of the year 2000.
Founded in 1993 by Budapest Kertészeti Egyetem’s graduate Mihály Figula the winery today has a bit less than 30 hectares – the founder had no plans to expand it, he believed that 25-30 hectares are more than enough for a family winery, he once told me. Most plantations are quite old located in the Balatonfüred, Balatonszőlős and Pécsely areas. They embraced the technology in winemaking relatively early but never abused them. Indeed, my perception is that they’re using less new oak today than they used to around 2001-2002. The press is operated at 1 bar to obtain a clean juice and the controlled fermentation and aging in stainless steel helps only to preserve the fruity character of the grapes. Figula took his winery to the next level with Szilénusz which, in better years, is made as a blend of changing vineyards and varietals but always giving exceptional cuvées.
Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 comes from the Gella “dűlő”, the highest point of Balatonszőlős with Southern and South-Western exposure. It’s quite windy too which increases quality while decreases loss for rotting. The yield from this area had been decreased from 3 300 hectoliters to only 1 800 today. This means 1-1,5 kilos per vine (which are planted in rows of 2,7m distance from each other and at 70cms within the row). The vines here are very old, around 48 years most of them.
The wine has a bright, medium yellow golden color. The nose is medium intense nettle and lovage with a floral accent. Nice and warm, very friendly.
The palate is less fruity than I expected with apple aroma supported by a Traubi-acidic underpinning. Slightly sparkling, the wine is well balanced and has a fresh character with a hint of salty-minerality. It’s a bit short on the finish with apple-bitterness (like cider). Small-medium bodied.
Score: 5 points
Nyerges, 2007 is a selection of Pinot Gris. Fermented in large oak (“Ászokhordó”, for those willing to learn the Hungarian terms) and bottled after 12 months but before that it spent one month in second use Barrique. The grapes come from western slopes. The wine has 14% alcohol and around 6 g/l acidity.
This Pinot Gris has a brassy-onion skin hue in appearance and a relatively heavy nose with herbs, honey and spices. Later with crust of bread aroma! and dried tropical fruits quite densely. Soft, velvety with good acidity. Upper-medium bodied wine with a hint of bitterness.
Szilénusz, 2006 is the flagship blend of the Figulas. In 2006 it was made of 50% Olaszrizling and 50% Chardonnay, Szürkebarát and Semillion. Fermented in Ászok barrel, then half of the wine was moved to Barrique after 4-6 months for another 2 months, then they’ were poured together again.
This cuvée has a medium yellow golden color. It has a light, yet penetrating flinty nose, quite perfume-y with a vanilla accent. Very interesting.
Fresh, soft but crispy acidity spiced up with a hint of salty-minerality. Light and elegant, in a certain way, the wine’s well integrated and this along with its harmony is the key strength of the wine. It has also hints of vegetable and greenish notes but it’s not as fruity as one might expect. It’s a very good wine though.
Score: 6, 6+
The post would be too long, so I’ll write another entry with the red wines of Figua Winery.
Ráspi wines are more alive than Rolling Stones on tour but Ráspi wines change much more in a few months than Charlie Watts’ mimicry over several decades. Here’s another testimony of this. I tasted this Mágus Cuvée 2006 once at the master’s restaurant at Fertőrákos and then again in late 2008. You can read the tasting notes here from back in November.
Medium pale ruby color with an almost watery pink rim. Unlike most Ráspi wines this one has a relatively rich bouquet already at opening, complex but not very intense with earth, chocolate and smoky elements. Quite warm. Even a sour cherry stewed in Cognac and wrapped in dark chocolate (called Konyakmeggy in Hungary). Now this wine has a small-medium body almost empty and watery through to the midpalate. The wine has pleasant powdery tannins which become silky after an hour. Later on the nose asian spices. The palate is quite interesting once salty then with a grappa accent. The wine appreciates decanting and it changes a lot even in matter of hours.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 4 500