A Cabernet Franc from 2006 cannot be bad, I thought, when I returned to the merchant where I previously bought the two rather disapopointing Bikavérs of Tóth István. I was right: this Cabernet Franc is quite what you expect from this varietal from that vintage.
Tóth István – Cabernet Franc, 2006
Fresh look of vibrant claret with purplish reflections and a pinkish rim, very unexpectedly from Eger’s artisan winemaker. The nose is fresh and fruity, with intense black-currant aroma and hints of spices. On the palate well balanced and structurally evolved with fairly rich, meaty berry fruits and a spicy undertone (black pepper mainly). Very good, delicious length. Not too weighty, the tannins are absorbed by sweet alcohol (14.6%). With some exposure to air the fruitiness is a touch reduced giving space for chocolate and sweet sour cherry over a thin layer of light minerality.
Well chosen style for the vintage and a best buy (I paid HUF 2000 for it on Budapest’s Orbán tér although the usual high street price is much higher than that).
Being an admirer of Takács Lajos I find it unfortunate that my latest encounters with his wines were not the best. I was expecting that the once famous Furmint 2006 would finally put everything back on track and restore my confidence in his (and some other artisan) wines.
Hollóvár – Furmint, 2006
Faded straw to medium-deep golden yellow. Smells a bit tired and oxydated with some notes of hazelnut and salty minerality, later popcorn. On the palate malt aromas of Czech lager and popcorn with a bitter and fortunately not too long finish. The wine lacks the sharp acidity of younger (and perhaps better) Hollóvár wines and I miss the sparkling flintstone blast too.
Although never typical Furmints, it looks like Takács Lajos’ Furmints haven’t been ageing well lately.
The fact that a 5 kms (wet) distance that separates the Northern from the Southern Balaton wine region apparently makes red wine making impossible on the North is fascinating. In my pursuit of a fine Northern Balaton red wine I visited the small Tamás Pince in Csopak to find out about the prospects and the vintage of 2010.
Ever since I was introduced to Tamás wines about 5 years ago my perception about Tamás Pince was of a maker of good but not outstanding and a bit pricey wines. I didn’t take notice of his commitment to artisan wine making until recently, but that’s exactly why I decided to pay a short visit.
What I’ve found out about this year’s vintage is that it is going to yield somewhat (and not dramatically as elsewhere) less wine than usually and not too unexpectedly sugar levels are lower than as usual. You’ll find more, very useful information on the winery’s website about each wine (provided that you’re fluent in Hungarian), including details of the crop described with scientific precision and not so scientific information about the ageing potential of the wines (how does he know that stuff?).
Most of the tiny land is planted with Olaszrizling but I know it only too well so I become more interested in the red wines and I found Észak és Dél 2008, a blend of 40% Syrah by Tamás and 60% Cabernet Franc by Légli Géza from the South bank the finest of all. In general all the wines were decent wines of fresh and thin character and chosing one to take home proved to be difficult. I was told by Tamás on my hesitation that girls tend to chose the Syrah over Cabernet Franc, but I didn’t find the CF particularily boyish and I found the Syrah a bit more exciting.
Fact sheet: Manually harversted, 27hl/ha. Aged in small second use oak barrels for 22 months.
Blurred pale ruby wine with a restrained nose of black pepper with a hint of toast.
Very tight, light and dry on the palate with lot of pepper flowing into a decent length with a sour element from the mid-palate. Fresh, almost vibrant acidity with well rounded edges, still it feels a bit over the top for this small-bodied wine. Not that expressive at present, the palate displays hints of unripe plum. But with an ageing potential of 18 years it’s too early to say.
Purplish hue. The nose lacked the instantaneous appeal but as it opened out slowely fruity, spicy and even greenish accents emerged. On the palate tasty bitter tannins are wrapped in glycerin. The wine develops a more mature and harmonious character with some exposure to air (2 hours I would say) displaying good tobacco and leather flavoured tannins. A thin layer of plum flows into a smooth length.
Good enough? Take the glycerin out of the equation and you’ll get a wine that’s more than fairly priced.
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
Nice color, good look. On the nose wet forest soil, mainly, dense and heavy for a Kékfrankos. Further on whirling, robust, unripe and bitter tannins dry out the mouth. Underneath the tannic blast lie layers of surprisingly fine susbstance but hardly any of it comes through. It will open a little releasing ripe forest fruit aromas, too little, too late.
Score: 3 points
Price: HUF 3000
Up and coming talent Németh N.A.G. Attila Gábor is one of the titans who are trying to re-establish the reputation of Mátraalja as a region capable of producing excellent white wines and fine red wines. The efforts to prove the latter have not been very convincing so far but white-wise some prominents of this generation have already proved their point. Still, the region’s post-WW2 history is a heavy burden. For how long terroir wine merchants will be able to sell red wines like Karner’s at such a ridiculously high price is another question.
This Concubina has a pale hue with pale purplish reflections. On the nose forest berry fruits with hip dominance. On the palate it has layers of spices with underlying woodyness. Very raw structure. The wine lacks determination and it has badly integrated components.
Unfortunately I call this Mátraalja character. This style lacked the instantaneous appeal and it still does.
Whether Concubina white 2007 is as good as in previous years we’ll find out soon.
Price: HUF 2000
I returned two st. Andrea Pinot Noirs in a row to the retailer because they were corked. The third one I took home was a Pinot from another vinyard, namely from Hangács of Demjén. I’ve never been there and I didn’t even know the place existed (I still doubt it a bit).
It turns out that St. Andrea Pinot Noirs are intentionally corked, or so they seem (leasson learned, Ráspi). But the shop clerk says it’s normal, a buyer brought back a lot of six bottles, all corked. I couldn’t believe my ears.
Anyway, this one from Hangács is suspiciously similar to the other two. First, it has the same blurred pinkish brick color, then it has the same bouquet (and that’s not exactly a compliment). Well the cinnamon, rose and woodchip aromas are not exactly repelling but they’re not huge either. The palate is embarrassingly desintegrated, with harsh components, firm tannic backbone and a hint of (positively) sweet compote element. I hoped it’d get better with time but it got worse.
My first encounter with Kreinbacher wines didn’t impress me and I still couldn’t get used to their (sometimes overly) high prices although I now at least appreciate their efforts to find Somló’s new old character.
They embraced old grapes through their lower-end label Szent Ilona too. Entry-level cuvée Taposó-Kút is, every year, an Olaszrizling-based blend which in 2006 produced a more Furmint-like character instead. I at least attribute that sour-bitter element on the mid-palate (not at the finish as often seen in Furmint) which is so dominant in this wine to Furmint.
But let’s have a look at the color first: brigh hay hue, not very deep and very lively. Complex, yet friendly floral nose mingled with hints of honey and ripe tropical fruits having a vanilla undertone and a mineral accent. The palate has a mineral and bitter character because of the Furmint I suppose which also leaves its mark on the taste spectrum (along with marzipan).
Aged in mostly used large oak barrels during which the wine had a long contact with the lee (so characteristic to Kreinbacher wines) which is at least partly responsible for the lovely acidity being overshadowed by that bitter taste and texture. This wine would be very exciting without that, but it’s still a very decent effort and a good introduction to this side of Somló.
The wine’s not young and I don’t expect it to get any better with time.
Score: 5 points
Price: HUF 2 500
I knew very little about Tihanyi Apátsági Pince but I was pretty certain that a visit would help. Well it did a little bit but after 2 hours in the cellar and 20 minutes googling the keywords I’m still uncertain about the ownership, the size and pretty much everything else about the winery. I decided to taste their premium label named after the (or one of the) owners, the well-known entrepreneur/property developer/ex-Skála boss Sándor “the richest Hungarian” Demján. Here’s what I found.
Badacsonyi Olaszrizling 2008 made me realize that I won’t necessarily be tasting Tihany wines in this beautiful spot of the Tihany peninsula’s interior lake as I hoped. The wine has lemon yellow color and a closed nose with citrus aromas. On the palate green notes supported by abundant fresh acidity in this small-medium bodied Olaszrizling. Score: 3+/4-
Rosé 2008 is 60% Kékfrankos and 40% Zweigelt of relatively low yield (1,6 kilos/vine). Brassy color like those fine kitchen apparels, very nice. The bouquet is messy with earth and wet grass elements. Medium-bodied and relatively well balanced. Score: 3+
Merlot 2006 has seen 6 months in barrique. The wine has a muddy deep ruby color with Port- and Cognac notes on the nose. On the palate it’s relatively rich with dried plum and a hint of sour cherry. Nicely textured with subtle acidity and oily tannin. Relatively dense but fresh with smoky and chocolate undertones. But it has a mainly Port wine/Cognac character on the palate too. Score: 5- points
Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is a 50%-50% blend of these two with 13% alcohol. Deep sour cherry color with a black core. Dense nose with chocolate, sour cherry notes. Fresh acidity. Score: 5- points
Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 is dark and dense with overly ripe sour cherry aroma on the nose. Well balanced, well structured with fresh but polished tannins and medium acidity. Very dense, with black pepper notes. And a hint of, well, sweat on the nose. Score: 5/5+ points