Owner of a small winery (5ha) and a cult following in Hungary, Frigyes Bott is a winemaker born and working in Slovakia just across the Danube. Although the winery is not entirely biodynamic yet, Mr. Bott prefers natural and labour-intensive methods to advanced technology.
Bott Frigyes – Passion, 2009
This is a blend of Olaszrizling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc.
Fairly complex yet light nose of passion fruit, with kiwi and other tropical fruits coming through with a greenish accent and along a hint of minerality.
On the palate juicy fruity notes of peach primarily with an oaky vanilla undertone. Light minerality mingled with gentle apricot jam acidity, well balanced with a bit of residual sugar, just enough for a medium-bodied wine. Tasty finish, not long but not too short either. Under elevated temperature it tastes caramelized pineapple.
Mature but not old wine, enjoy it now at medium to even higher temperature!
What I wrote yesterday about Tóth István’s Kékfrankos 2003 applies for all of his wines, with more or less minor changes. So instead of repeating myself I present you the delta between the two wines.
First of all this is a blend, a Bikavér as we know it but don’t let this convention confuse you. The only difference on the nose is that this Bikavér has more wild mushroom notes and some sour cherry, but fundamentally very barrell influenced just as the Kékfrankos. The tannin’s a bit scratchy sometimes.
I didn’t disappear for more than a week because I didn’t drink anything good but because I’ve been drinking too much lately. Mostly in public and mostly way too much and I don’t expect that December would be any better. But fortunately I still managed to spend some quality time alone with some lovely wines, like this one right now when I’m writing this post and will publish soon, although not the subject matter Olaszrizling from Csopat but that’ll be another post anyway.
I asked the winemaker which is the single best white wine he’d recommend me to take away and he picked this one without any hesitation. Although I heard winemakers from North-Balaton complain about 2007 I took it. You may want to read about this visit and his Syrah 2006, and also about his artisanal ways here.
Tamás Pince – Olaszrizling, 2007
Mature, medium deep vibrant golden yellow. Very densely styled but fairly fresh nose, packed full of citrus fruits and mustard. It evolves into sweet citrus with a minerally uppertone. On the palate lively acidity carries a massive layer of minerality. Very much like Szabó Zoltán’s classic Rajnai Rizling except a fading tart finish and it’s a touch woody too. Very juicy with lemon zest and grapefuit flavoured acidity mingled with adorable salty minerality stretching into a long finish. It seems to develop a more moderately fresh, less acidic character with longer exposure to air.
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.
When I ran into a massive sell-off of Tóth István Merlot wines in a grocery store (down by 60%) in Orbán tér I thought I’ve found the best buy of the month. Although I never understood the cult following of Tóth István, his wines never really disappointed me. The winemaker whose most recent wines on the market were made in 2004 is apparently liquidating his stock, but until heextends it to the much admired Bikavér Válogatás, let’s have a look at the naked Merlot from 2004. I bought a bottle and I found it a bit strange (with a mix symptom of corked wine and ethyl acetate). So I bough a second bottle and it felt the same, leding me to the conclusion that this must be the Eger terroir then.
Tóth István – Merlot, 2004
Blurred brownish turning towards purple. On the nose raspberry mingled with pomegranate, but a bit dull and stuffy. Well-balanced light palate with lively acidity finely embedded into the deep soft and slightly sour tannins.
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.
Another “artisan” wine from easily the most beautiful area of Balaton. 2.5 hectares on the southern slopes at 150 m altitude, covered by forest dark soil above the vulcanic sand known as Pannon sand is Péter Váli’s vinyard.
I chose an Olaszrizling with 13.5% alcohol (13% according to their website) because the mineral character which this wine I’d been expecting to have suits better full-bodied wines.
Lovely bright golden yellow hue. On the nose lime and greenish, firm, medium-ripe acidic green apple. On the palate, the formula is: lot of apple mingled with citrus aromas and minerality, inevitably. Later tons of celery, lovage and persil with hints of nettle, supported by lot of young acidity. The finish could be more polished. Rustic style.
Váli deserves more attention.
Score: 5- points
Price: HUF 2000 (cheaper directly from the producer)
This is the entry level to the wines from Csúcs hegy close to Nadap of perhaps slightly schizophrenic “artisan” winemaker/entertainment entrepreneur Szentesi. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to like his wines very much and he still runs one of the best low-budget restaurants in town (even after sharp fall in quality) and shopping from the walls of a pool table showroom behind a car-washing garage is equal to none.
This is a medium deep straw-colored wine with a light chalky mineral character and lots of aromatic ripe apple. It has a pleasant, slightly fizzy tartness in the finish and just enough acidity. Fruity, even intrusively, with notes of pineapple.
It’s a simple, but good wine made using traditional methods as proudly emphasized by Mr. Szentesi.
Score: 4 points
Price: HUF 1 800