Lemon yellow with faded greenish reflections. Yeasty bouquet with mayonnaise aroma. Elegantly styled palate with fair amount of acidity, not too much, just enough. Light fruity character with a mixed basket of continental and tropical fruits. Good length too.
In February 2011 for the first time ever I chose to buy a Pezsgő (Hungarian sparkling wine), it was entirely my decision without being suggested by my wife, a big fan of Champagne. It started some years ago with our New Eve sparkling breakfasts, then one thing led to another and I can state that I now enjoy sparkling wines as much as I enjoy any other wine. The breakthrough came with a Laurent-Perrier Brut 1993 few weeks ago with its delightfully structured style, smoothly integrated palate and mature harmony only found in vintage wines.
Hungarian sparkling wines (or at least those made using traditional method, which I buy) are, of course, modest compared to the Champagnes. But I enjoy some of the rosés and I found this Chateau Vincent Evolution Rosé, 2005 particularily delightful.
It is made of 100% Pinot Noir which makes it look onion peel colored with some brassy reflections. It smells of yeast and toasted bread but it’s more aromatic and fruity on the palate with a bit of residual sugar (20g/L) which I find rather pleasant in this wine (in many white wines in fact), supported by firm apple flavoured acidity. Realtively fleshy mouthfil with aromas of chalky strawberry jam and toasted bread flowing into a very long yeasty finish with hints of pistache.
This is a very good effort, perhaps the best I have seen in its category and it confirms Garamvári Szőlőbirtok (best known as Ch. Vincent) as one of my two favorite Pezsgő makers of the regrettably short list of Pezsgő makers.
Note : pictures have been missing lately because my DSLR had broken and I couldn’t fix it yet so this and the last few pictures were taken with a budget mobile phone camera.
A century ago Hungary arguably used to be very good at making sparkling wines using Méthode Champenoise. I have no idea what those wines were like and I’m absolutely sure that no one at Törley has more clue than most of us. It is, therefore, an abuse of heritage to put the information about the founders of the original winery everywhere for marketing purposes, including the label. For those unfamiliar with Hungarian history and its present: we’re absolutely unable to transfer values from pre-WW1 to the present although we like to look at ourselves as a culturally evolved bunch of geniuses. I’m sure that the traditional method didn’t change much over the century (otherwise they wouldn’t call it traditional I suppose), everything else did.
Although I believe that if spakling wines are featured on this blog then perhaps other alcoholic beverages like Cognac should too, I think that the tiny supply of fine Hungarian sparkling wines will not take too much space from Hungarian wines. So here’s the tasting notes of one of Hungary’s finest.
Francois Président Rosé Brut
Peach and brassy hue, charming as rosé sparklings tend to be, with many tiny bubbles. Very restrained nose with only some yeasty notes. On the palate it’s very dry as one might expect. Ultra-light and not very aromatic, with acidic backbone being the prime and almost only feature on the palate. Good length though.
This is 10% more expensive than Kreinbacher’s rosé spakling wine and I prefer it to Francois. Considering the labour intensity of the method, both wines are reasonably priced though.
I don’t pretend I understand Champagne or sparkling wines in general. But I had a quiet new years eve followed by an even more quiet weekend and I decided to share with you my impressions about some Champagne and Hungarian sparkling wines made á la méthode traditionnelle I spent time with during this period. Here they are, in chronologic order.
Hungaria – Extra Dry
This is the top wine of the Hungaria line of Törley group. With no vintage on the label, I can only guess that this is a mix of various vintages and varietals but I couldn’t find any more information about this wine on the winery’s website. Such a shame, although 99.999% of the consumers of this wine wouldn’t be interested anyway. This is a sparkling wine that only sells during the last week of the year, deservedly if you ask me, as it’s only slightly better than the regular Törley line under HUF1000. Pale lemon yellow, bright and charming with citrus notes on the nose. On the palate still a bit flimsy but I didn’t mind having a glass of this one, knowing what was about to come.
Kreinbacher – Syrah Rosé, 2008
Strange as it may be, probably the only Syrah of the Somló wine region went into this sparkling wine. Two years ago we celebrated the new year with the Syrah 2007. It was lovely, so we started 2010 the same way and this had become the wine I most often bought in 2010 when I was looking for a sparkling wine. The 2008 summarises well why.
It’s beautiful, brassy with faded salmon reflections, vibrant and releases charming towers of bubbles like a smoking chimney. Light nose, fairly yeasty and a bit spicy but mostly fruity, although a bit restrained. It’s delicious too: lightly rocky with hints of red fruits. Dry, fresh but not too acidic and has a decent legth.
Szentesi – Pinot Noir Rosé, 2008
Champagne/sparkling wine is supposed to be cheerful and festive. Rosé wines suite these occasions perfectly and I prefer these to white sparkling wines. Just like the Kreinbacher, this sparkling wine is one of its kind, I don’t think many producers venture in the field of Pinot Noir in the Velence region and most of this little ended up in this sparkling wine. This was our first encounter and it was an immediate success.
Very similar to the Kreinbacher in appearance, perhaps a touch more pinkish, just lovely, festive indeed and very gay. A bit more yeasty and more fruity with raspberry primarily. Very dry, very light with subtle acidity. Light and crisp character. According to my wife, who’s the real authority as long as sparkling wines are concerned, Kreinbacher Syrah is slightly better than this one. I’m not so sure, but again, I really don’t get sparkling wines the way she does.
There are three more Champagnes to come, but let’s save them for tomorrow as I have some unfinished business with a very good Szamorodni right now.
I don’t regularly drink sparkling wine so I wouldn’t venture any scoring here. I just thought it would be interesting to try the first(?) sparkling tentative of a winery which was well accepted by terroir wine lovers as well as by mass wine fans. Apparently Kreinbacher winery is both at the same time. I wasn’t unbelievably stunned by what I drank from Kreinbacher so far but I did like the way they’ve been rebuilding the slopes of Somló, so far characterised by small, featureless family cellar buildings. And since Hungary has a history but not so much of a presence of making sparkling wine, I thought it would be interesting to taste one from Somló which I never did before, since I have not so much to lose (well, except 3 000 Hungarian Forints).
Kreinbacaher – Palackos
erjesztésű Pezsgő, Brut, 2007, Nagy Somló. I found this sparkling wine’s nose full of yeast and surprisingly rich in stewed quince fruit. Later stewed green apple aromas join the yeast on the nose but on the palate it’s very different: no fruits at all but at least it’s light and pleasant and has a yeast accent. And it’svery dry.
All else I can say is that it goes well with some caviar and eggs on new year’s first morning. So cheers, and I wish You All a Very Happy 2009.