This is a blend of 34% Olaszrizling, 28% Chardonnay, 26% Leányka and 12% Viognier. Of these, 15% is alcohol.
Lovely vibrant lemon yellow. Exciting nose of salty-chalky minerals mingled with light honey and veggie stock. Slightly sweet on the palate, with Viognier being dominant in taste, overly so if you ask me. Hours later melon aroma emerge.
Pale matt yellow hue. Rather restrained on the nose with light notes of lavender and vegetables and a subtle oaky butter accent. Medium-bodied Chardonnay without obvious Chardonnay notes. Barrel aging spices instead, supported by a fairly acidic backbone delivering a tingling texture. Surprisingly pleasant at room temperature (21 centigrade in this case), showing rich and minerally with an overall good balance.
Fairly priced (HUF 2 350).
Wine producer of the year 2010. Why 2010? Unofficially, the prestigious award of local relevance is given to different region each year and last year it was Southern Balaton’s turn. My understanding is that, taking the all-important lobby out of the equation, of the few notable winemakers of the region, Légli Ottó has the longest proven track record of predictable quality.
I may be wrong but to me Légli is still a white wine producer, indeed, in spite of some very decent efforts lately (Ikon Evangelista, 2007, to give you a for instance), the whole Southern Balaton region is for the time being a white region to me.
Légli Ottó – Szőlőslaki Chardonnay, 2009
Clean and vibrant lemon yellow hue, with many tiny bubbles. Lively nose of fresh and ripe apple. Light weight palate packed with fruity aromas of apple and traces of elderberry around a core of tingling acidity. There may be some residual sugar here which is lovely with the light saltiness underneath the broad character. Good length.
Fairly priced at HUF 2 400.
The impact of Sauska on the Hungarian wine industry is still to be understood and if the new trend doesn’t take off in the next few years then perhaps it never will. For now the question is: can Sauska transfer their success formula to Tokaj? The control-freak attitude brought us the new world to Villány, but there’s no dessert wine in the new world (well, you know what I mean). Can over-engineering techniques work in the Aszú universe?
One thing is certain: Tokaj desperately needs professional wine marketing and even Sauska critics will have to admit that that cash could come from the devil itself, provided that it can help boost sales of a wine region hit by many factors, one of the most important being the world’s profound ignorance of fine dessert wines.
Let’s get first to a basic dry cuvée because I’m not sure yet if I’m ready to open my wallet for the pricy sweet delights.
Sauska Tokaj, 113 Cuvée, 2009
Pale lemon yellow hue with olive reflections, bright and clean. Very restrained and light on the nose with lemon zest and an acacia accent. To my surprise, the wine shows mineral on the palate supported by lively lemon and crab apple acidity and a good hint of salt. There are notes of apple and pear too to a lesser extent, over a tight and fairly long acid backbone. Light nose, middle-weight palate (in fact the palate is light too but richer and more complex). After not too long exposure to air the finish will be shorter and acidity fades.
Furmint is the backbone, Sauvignon Blanc marks its presence too but Chardonnay and especially Hárslevelű are dissolved in the blend. This is the entry-level dry cuvée of Sauska Tokaj, a decent effort that is nothing like the Sauska Villány white wines. But like most Sauska wines, this is a very approachable wine and an interesting blend.
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
This Chardonnay from 2007 by Légli has medium golden color, very bright.
The bouquet is surprisingly simple: the fruitiness is virtually unnoticed and there’s an unpleasant note which first I suspected was an initial joke of sulphites. But it’s not much different on the palate: a chalky-mineral element there but little else. The nose will have a fading floral character after a while. In spite of the shortages the wine has a relatively good balance of acidity and residual sugar for it has little of both. But at least it has a good texture. This wine has a shockingly short finish and before that only a faded mix of crab apple and other unripe continental fruits to offer.
I expected more from someone who’s said to be a Chardonnay specialist. Something like a lighter version of the applauded Légli Landord, 2007.
Price: HUF 2 200
Ottó Légli has, in total, 33 ha vineyards mostly on the small hills of the Balatonboglár region. According to his credo, his aim is to make the wine express the utmost harmony of natural values of the wine such as fruitiness, acidity, freshness and of dedicated human efforts.The vine composition of the plantations is as follows:
Chardonnay 7,7 ha, Olaszrizling 5 ha, Rajnai Rizling 4,8 ha, Sauvignon Blanc 3,6 ha, Pinot Noir 4 ha, Merlot 2 ha, Kékfrankos 1 ha, Pinot Blanc 0,5 ha, Rizlingszilváni 0,4 ha, Muscat Ottonel 0,3 ha, Irsai Olivér 0,3 ha, Zenit 0,3 ha, Zöldveltelini 0,2 ha, under reconstruction 2,9 ha.
I picked an affordable middle-range wine (he produces wines for the budget consumers as well as for the wealthy Hungarians, and a range in between). I was a bit disappointed lately with the lower-end sortiment, so I’ve been looking forward to the more expensive range with mixed expectations.
Légli – Landord, 2007
Medium yellow-golden color, clean and bright and the wine has an appealing move in the glass.
This Chardonnay has a very attractive nose: intense, but very elegant acacia honey with floral edge. Very refreshing. It has a mouth-filling presence on the palate too with grapefruit and other citrus elements, supported by round, fresh, elegant acidity. Remarkable, excellent balance. More than medium bodied with a nice structure with a good deal of salty-minerality making it even more exciting, completed by an apricot aroma undertone. Complex, but not heavy wine, although heavy enough to accompany the 14% alcohol. The acids are lovely and they’re trimming well the residual sugar.
Later the nose will have a marzipan note too and the palate a more Chardonnay vinous character.
The smart use of polished oak is interesting and pleasant.
This is the last great Chardonnay in a row of three in only a few months. The three came from 3 different regions in the small Hungarian land. The three are priced around HUF 3 000 which, of course, qualifies them for best buy. Something to think about.
Score: 7, 7+
Price: 3 500 (on sale, normally 4 000)
Stocking Hungarian wines is a bit of a lottery still: during the summer I opened two Gere from the classic year of 2000, one of them (Kopár) was excellent just as I expected but the Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique which was supposed to be the robust, oaky Cabernet of Gere had been falling apart (although the two have never even been in the same league).
Now I opened a Vylyan Chardonnay 2003 which every year was sold with a discount when the new vintages took over the shelves so I couldn’t expect too much improvement from it by now. But in fact, it wasn’t bad after all which makes the durability of wines a bit of mistery to me which was further augmented by a Concha Y Toro Chardonnay from the Casillero Del Diablo series also from 2003. Although having very different character, never having such acidity as the Vylyan (which itself has a relatively low level of it with Hungarian standards) but having had a bigger body and more residual sugar it aged relatively well, or at least didn’t disappoint me so much as the Gere C.S. The Chilian wine had bright, deep golden color and oily move, and an incredibly intense tutti-frutti nose with floral notes and a honey undertone – fresh! Very aromatic but had a deepness, with several vertical layers still. The palate showed more of its age especially that all its acidity had gone, literally, although it was still enjoyable as a drink but not as much as a wine. The Vylyan Chardonnay which would have scored probably around 4 points which would qualify it as a decent wine for appr. HUF 1 400 or so today, lost even less from its values and would be still around 3+ points which is relatively good for a wine which was never meant to be consumed later than 2004.
Note: all wines were kept in the same cellar since their purchase. I know, in a place with humidity visibly above the desirable.
With a yearly 10 000 bottles output from 5.5 hectars, Schellmann is a small winery producing 50% white wines and 50% red wines. After having learned about the 95 points their Chardonnay received from Falstaff in 2003 I become interested in the Chardonnay from 2005 when I saw its charming label on the “sale” shelf of Wein & Co. in Wien. I thought it would be a good benchmark for the few Hungarian high-end Chardonnays. And indeed, I found it very similar in style and quality to Monarchia’s Chardonnay Battonage, reviewed recently on this blog.
Deep color with brassy reflections.
The nose is full of Chardonnay and barrique oak notes. As it opens a bit intense ripe, sweet-citrus elements (and pine-apple) mingle with the vanilla undertone.
The wine is full-bodied with lot of extracts and a bit of residual sugar but with a good structure. I expected it to be more acidic, but it’s just fine. The grapes must have been harvested ripe and the juice probably spent some time in contact with the lee, providing it with this dense, mouth-filling sensation.
The nose improves after an hour and the palate also evolves a more intense character of aromas fundamentally of grapefruit, lemon and quince now with an elderberry accent. It’s a heavy wine and has a long finish with some bitterness in it.
The wine has some qualities of a really great fine wine but it already seems a little old.
Price: EUR30 appr
Bright golden color, I expected darker, more brownish tone.
The nose is sulphuric with honey and floral notes of medium intensity (I expected more intense aromas).
On the palate it’s well structured, well integrated, nicely composed peanut butter and peanut with elegant acidity and nice, smooth texture. There’s a tiny bitterness of walnut too. I suspect high level of alcohol, a bit burning. Round wine with some residual sugar embedded into the nice acidity. The burned sugar finish is long and very pleasant.
With time, lot of caramel with burnt walnut on the palate and a touch of vanilla. The wine stretches in the whole mouth from the peak of the tongue to the back-end, filling it with a smooth, velvety sensation. The nose becomes more marzipan-vanilla after an hour.
It well worths the price.
Score: 7-, 7 points
Price: HUF 3 000