Category Archives: Hungarian Grape varieties

Report from the 22nd Budapest International Wine Festival – Part 2

I continue my report with the white wines. In the second part I introduce the white wines from the Winery of the Year 2013, also wines from the Tolna and Zala region.

IKON Borászat (IKON Winery)

IKON Winery is situated in Rádpuszta, near Balatonlelle on the south shore of Lake Balaton. The vineyards of Rádpuszta had belonged to the Benedictine Abbey of Tihany for centuries. After a long break, with the establishment of IKON Winery, the place began to keep its original glory. One of the founders of the winery is the well-known enologist János Konyári, whose expertise is guarantee of the high standards of the wines. Currently IKON Winery is comprises 39 hectares of the following grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir. White wines are made of the co-operation between the winery and local vine-growers. The winemaker at the winery is János Konyári who was voted for the Winemaker of the Year in 2008.

IKON Winery

Rajnai Rizling (Rhine Riesling) 2012

The wine dominant of floral notes (mainly acacia) on the nose while honey and floral notes are on the palate. It is a pale yellow colored wine which opens slowly and show its characters after a while. It’s a nice and pretty wine. The closure is screw cap.

Konyári Loliense whiteKonyári Loliense white 2012

This wine was made by János Konyári. The mixture of three grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling). It was fermented in stainless-steel tanks then had been matured in barrel with battonage technology for 6 months. It opens a bit slowly but probably because the wine was too cold at the time of tasting. Floral notes are dominant, mainly the typical notes of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Also floral notes are on the palate with a creamy effect. It makes the wine velvety and well-rounded.

 Fabro Pince (Fabro Winery)

I was curious what a wine region can offer which is not that popular and famous like other wine regions in Hungary. Fabro Pince (Fabro Winery) is based in the city of Paks which is located in the Wine Region of Tolna. Tolna wine region is located in the Middle South Hungary whoever the region is fragmented into 3 bigger areas. One of the three areas is located between the River Danube and Sió Channel and two others are located on the west side of the Sió Channel.

Tolna region

The winery offered 1 sparkling, 1 white, 1 rosé, 1 Siller and 4 red wine on the Wine Fair. The white wine was a Chardonnay 2012 vintage and the sparkling was made from Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice) also from 2012.

SÁR – DON – É Chardonnay 2012

Thanks for the uniqueness of the Tolna wine region this Chardonnay has more soil and mushroom notes on the nose rather what you would expect from a Chardonnay. Floral notes are stronger on the palate and it’s a well balanced wine with not too strong acids.

Érintés 2012 Sparkling wine, sweet

The name Érintés means touch in English. The wine got its name probably because of a velvety and light sparkling wine favourite of ladies. This sparkling wine was made from the Hungarian grape variety Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice). A sweet white sparkling wine with fruity and spicy notes on the nose and velvety, harmonious on the palate. Light and sweet like a feminine touch.

Fabro white

Bezerics Borház (Bezerics Winehouse)

Bezerics Borház is situated in the Zala wine region on the west shore of Lake Balaton.They cultivate vine over 30 hectares which 26 hectares is their own vineyards. Most of their wines are made from white grape varieties both Hungarian and International such as Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice), Furmint, Chardonnay and a very rare Hungarian grape variety calls Pátria which is a cross between Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) and Tramini.

Zala region

Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) 2012

Pale  yellow colour. Green vegetables are dominant on the nose but these notes are not that strong rather well-balanced. Mainly elderflower, acacia and flowers can be felt on the palate. A decent, easy-drinking wine.

Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice) 2012

A light easy drinking wine. Despite it’s a dry wine, the notes on the nose are similar to a sweet wine. Apricot, pineapple and a little botrytis can be smelled. Mainly floral notes are on the palate but we can feel that little sweetness in our mouth too.

Birtokbor 2011

Blended from three different grape varieties. Furmint, Hárslevelű (Linden Leaf) and Pátria. Straight from the first smell you can assume this is a serious wine. Light yellow colour, apricot and dried plum notes gives the first impression. You can discover different fruits on the palate and feel velvety wine with well-rounded acids. Serious white wine.

Bezerics Pátria

Bezerics Pátria label

Pátria 2011

This rare Hungarian grape variety is a cross between Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) and Piros Tramini (Red Traminer) was done by Károly Bakonyi in 1982. This wine is rich in aromas and flavours. Apricot, water lemon and apple are dominant on the nose while apricot, apple and grape on the palate. The wine shows its characters nicely. Well balanced and rich in acids.

Chardonnay Barrique 2011

The wine has been matured in barrique barrel for 2 months. Medium dark colour and dried fruits  describe this wine. Mostly flower notes on the palate with a hint of fruits in the back. Nice backbone and rounded acids with medium long finish give seriousness for this wine.

Late harvest Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice) 2011

Beautiful wine with lots of fresh and dried fruits, botrytis on the nose. Peach, apricot, plum mixing together while the botrytis makes this wine serious. Fresh and young but already won many gold medals. Nice acids and sweetness fill the mouth and gives a long finish for the wine.

Bezerics JegborJégbor (Ice Wine) 2011

Harvested in late December  early January this ice wine is full of dried apricot and pineapple on the nose and on the palate too. Nicely rounded wine with strong sweetness and long finish at the end.

Report of the white wines has finished. In the following parts red wines will be scrutinized.

Bezerics borsor

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Back again after long absence

It’s been a long time I didn’t post any article here and I do apologise for this. There were a lot going on and luckily new projects are on the way. The biggest news that the web shop have been re-designed and after long work with the company call Web Can Work the old web shop has transformed from this

into this

Not just the design but the whole website has been renewed. From the shopping engine through the menu structure and features to the products and information.

All products in each category are in one page. No need to turn between pages to see the products.  Easier to navigate and you can see more products in the same time on the same page.

Detailed information about each wine regions and direct link to the available wines from each region. More detailed information of the grape varieties. More info on its way and we will update soon.

New menu (Spirits) with brand new product range. The popular national hungarian spirit Pálinka has arrived. Available to buy under the spirit section. First time ever in the history of Hungarian Wine House! Wish them a long stay with us!

And more of the new features

  • Less tabs means more focus on the wine.
  • Easier search option. Just type the word or name you look for on the top right of the shop.
  • Different type of discounts and vouchers will be available in the future, thanks to the new shopping engine.
  • Option to register an account which gives you even more features and flexibility in further purchases.
  • Leave feedback about each wine
  • Rate each wine on a 1 to 5 scale

Happy shopping!

Report from the wine tasting

Hungarian Masterclass with the Hungarian Wine House

Hungarian Wine House hosted a wine tasting this year in July. It was held at the Hungarian Cultural Centre at Convent Garden London, which belongs to the Hungarian State (but no passport is need it to enter the building). Our aim was different this time, approaching the general public, consumer who are interested in Hungarian wines. A free tasting with guidance, 10 wines from 6 different regions and different varieties with no particular theme in mind, just being unique. Hungary is unique, so are the wines.

I call it Hungarian the 4 T’s, which translates Talaj= soil, természet = nature, climate, Történelem= history, including the indigenous grape varieties and Társadalom = society, people. As the room is not too big and the event was a sit down tasting we couldn’t accept more than 50 applicants but the final number at he closing time was 58. Around 35 people attended the event, it was a great pleasure to see people from different backgrounds, also people from the trade. Hungarian Wine House (www.hungarianwinehouse.co.uk), specialized in Hungarian wines, of course. Overall I can say it was a good event. I believe people enjoyed the evening with some very interesting wines. Some better than others, but overall a good line-up which showed the diversity and uniqueness of Hungary. It took lots of time and effort to organize the tasting and I would like to thank for everyone who helped. First of all to Kristian Kielmayer who talked on the event and teached us about these wines and winemaking. He gave me lots of advice before the event and during the organization process. I want to thank also for Gábor Csorba who traveled from Bristol and gave a big support on the day of the event including setting the room. Also a big thank for Gyula Uhrin for the general and sale help on the event. And least but not last for my 2 lovely hostesses who welcomed the guests and poured wine during the tasting. This event couldn’t finish in success without their help.  Next day after the event we started to talk about the next wine tasting which will be held this year before Christmas. More info coming soon.

See below a brief introduction to each producer, winery, variety and the tasting notes in italic.

Irsai Olivér 2009, Nyakas Pincészet, Etyek – Budai wine region

It is a cross between Pozsonyi and Csaba Gyöngye (Pearl of Csaba), made by Pál Kocsis in 1930. Kocsis sold the first wine made out of this variety to a wine merchant by the name of … yes, you guessed it, Oliver Irsai. It is an early ripening aromatic variety. Usually fairly high in acidity a touch of residual sugar can balance the wine nicely. The grapes come mainly from Budajenö which has a mixture of loess and high chalk contain. The average density is 3500 vines / ha, Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) training is popular with this variety. The word Nyakas (meaning neck) comes from the basin. Today the winery has over 120 ha of vine planted, fairly diverse, but focusing on white varieties, Ernö Maya chief wine maker’s philosophy is quality, but every development must be done with the conditions set at the beginning. The grapes are hand harvested, integrated pest management is practiced and the winery will consider in the near future organic viticulture as well.

Tasting note

Pale lemon green colour with quite a pronounced nose. Marks of cold fermentation, lovely bright tropical, pineapple, gooseberry floral combination with ripe fruit. Hint of residual sugar but crisp acidity, good balance, notes of pineapple and bright lemon fruit underlined with some perfume. Very good example of the variety. Drink now

Királyleányka 2009, Thummerer Pincészet, Eger wine region

Is this the little princess amongst the wines? You decide, the name of the grape certainly translates as little princess. The Thummerer winery has 90 ha of vine planted, one of the bigger independent family owned wineries in Hungary. Situated in the North Eastern Mountain range, in the Eger wine region. Famous for its Bulls Blood. The winery has a big range of different varieties besides having some of the greatest vineyard sites as well. The family makes wine since 1984, today they offer a whole range to the visitors, from horse riding to special food and wine matching events and much more. Everybody is involved in the family, Vili papa (uncle Vili) as they call him is in charge with wine making, his wife is making the sculptures which often appear on the label, daughter Eva is in charge with wine tourism, hospitality and her husband is the chef. The white wine was made in the protective style, vinified in stainless steel tank and bottled with a hint of CO2, just to give a bit more freshness. The wine makers’ favourite motto: “If the eye is the spirit’s mirror, then the wine is the mirror of the wine maker”.

Tasting note

Pale straw yellow colour, medium pronounced nose. Some floral notes with citrus and a hint of spice. Fresh on the palate, dry with a hint of grapefruit and lemon. Touch of minerality with a bright floral note on the finish. Drink now

Cserszegi Füszeres 2008, Feind Pincészet, Balatonfüred-Csopaki wine region

A cross of Irsai Olivér and Tramini, made by dr. Károly Bakonyi. It combines a lot of the qualities of the two parents, the spiciness of the Traminer variety and the fresh acidity of the Irsai Olivér. The family estate goes back to 1993, their vineyard are at the North Eastern tip of thee biggest Central European lake, the Balaton. Father (Feind Senior) in charge with viticulture and his son (Peter) who spent sometime in Australia is looking after the wine making side, they work together and look after 17 varieties. They reckon this wine is ideal with fish dishes and salads.

Tasting note

Medium straw yellow colour. A bit of a funky nose, floral spice, but a bit dusty medium intense. Dry with some earthy, spice and floral kick. Medium acidity opens up after time. Good balance, medium finish. Drink now

Chardonnay 2009, Köporos Pincészet, Eger wine region

As Zoltán Simkó the owner of the Köporos winery from Eger recalls his first connection with wine was when he was dating his later wife. Wooing became his disaster, as he says. The girl’s father owned a wine cellar, he suddenly found himself in the cellar cleaning big oak barrels. There was no turning back from that point onwards. His father-in-law taught him the first skills of wine making and the work in the vineyard. The name Köporos could be translated as stone dust, the winery got be named after the street. The family owns 7 ha of vineyards, trained on low and medium high cordon. The Chardonnay ferments in oak barrels, stays for a longer period on lees to give added texture and creaminess to the wine, after fermentation is also matures for several months in oak as well. This is the premium Chardonnay of the winery the one below of that you would find on the Hungarian Airlines (Malév) Business class flight as well.

Tasting note

Medium straw yellow colour with some notes of oak, vanilla and stone fruit, but if everything medium intense. Dry, bit simple from the beginning some weight on the mid palate, touch of creaminess, one dimensional, simple Chardonnay. It would be worth to try it again, perhaps. Drink now – 2012

Rosé 2008, Dúzsi Pincészet, Szekszárd wine region

Tamás Dúzsi once only known as the “king of rosés” in Hungary. Critics and consumers both were fully behind those wines. It is usually 100% Kékfrankos. But depending on the vintage it can vary. If you ask him what the secret is, he replies: there is no secret he says. But then again if you dig a bit deeper he will say: just the best grapes are used for rosé wine making, acidity is crucial, perhaps the terroir is equally important (Leányvár, there was never serious drought, not even in 2003) and the timing. From harvest, skin contact and fermentation, time is key to get the balance right. While people do enjoy his rosé wines, he does some crisp white wine and some very nice reds too. He is always looking for new opportunities and is never-resting, his next mission is to show consumer and critics some Pinot Noir.

Tasting note

Salmon colour a fresh nose of strawberry and raspberry. Dry and lovely crispness on the palate, great balance between acidity and fruit. Delicate rosé, reminds me of many Provence rosé, just with the touch of fuller fruit and a hint of the Kékfrankos spice. Drink now

Kadarka 2009, Pastor Pincészet, Szekszárd wine region

Tibor Juhász the owner of the winery never really thought he would settle down at one day and do something with great value attached to the land, growing vine and making wine. He travelled for sometime in Australia and South America and lived for a longer period in London as well. It was more or less his family heritage to step into the wine business, his step father owned some vineyards sold most of it to the neighbour. Yet one day their neighbour (fairly famous wine maker in the region), he doesn’t need the grapes anymore, so Tibor’s stepfather Feri started to make his own wine. The family business grew everything was done by hand and great care, from carving the cellar (loess soil) to harvest and wine making. Tibor whose family name could be translated as shepherd (juhász and pásztor meaning the same) started his business in 2008. He is investing in new land and is building his own cellar, he is settling down for good. Kadarka a fantastic grape variety, native to Hungary, brought in by the rác community when they fled from the ottomans (Turks). Thin skin, medium to low in tannin, but high in acidity, doesn’t like to be trained along a cordon and very vintage depending.

Tasting note

Medium ruby colour with some jam and spice with bright red fruit on the nose. Dry, good acidity, low tannin good balance and medium body with a jammy, spice character. A very nice Kadarka, a bit of strange grape variety. Ripe finish a combo of ripe fruit, marzipan underlined with some spice. Drink now – 2012

Kékfrankos 2007, Günzer Pincészet, Villány wine region

Kékfrankos is known under many synonyms, in Germany as Lemberger, in Austria Blaufränkisch and there is Limburger and Modra Frankinja too, all the same. But yet it is special in Hungary, not only the most planted red grape variety but also key ingredients when it comes to blend Bikavér (Bulls Blood). The Günzer winery is based in the most southern wine region of Hungary, in Villány. Some people even call it the Mediterranean wine region of Hungary. He started in 1991 and he bottled his first wine in 1998, Günzer’s philosophy is that the grapes must be in at their best, he trains the vines along a single guyot system and applies green harvest. He likes when the cluster are loose or as Günzer puts it they should not touch each other.

Tasting note

Medium ruby colour with a slightly herbal nose. If feel a bit lean on the nose, almost like the yield would be high or simply not enough concentration. It shows a different picture on the palate, good acidity with a medium body and ripe structure. Some cherry and raspberry note with a hint of development and smoke. Drink now

Vida Cuvée 2003, Vida Péter pincészet, Szekszárd wine region

“The soil, the plant and the sun gave humankind the possibility for life.” You can tell by this one sentence that he is very much attached to Mother Nature. Wine making started early in his career today he works on 10 ha, his flagship vineyard is the Bakta (1ha) possibly the best site in Szekszárd, fully South facing rising 200 m over the town, terra rossa soil (oxidized iron), clay. It used to be said, that you were never able to buy land here, just inherit. Today unfortunately a lot of the great sites are taken by buildings (housing estates, etc.). Péter Vida’s signature blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Kékfrankos and Kadarka. He works with low yields around 1 kg / vine and uses mostly selected yeast culture according to the type of wine. The fermentation temperature is around 28-30 °C, fermentation happens in stainless steel tanks, he then moves the wines to bigger oak barrels (1000 l) before the wine spends sometime in medium toasted “barrique’s”. Destemming always happens.

Tasting note

Medium deep ruby colour with plenty of pencil shaving, lead character on the nose. Some blueberry and red bold fruit. Good acidity, soft and round yet with plenty of weight, fine oak notes, touch of spice and eucalyptus note with some beefiness. Toasty finish Drink now – 2012

3 puttonyos Tokaji Aszú 2002, Puklus Pincészet, Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region

The family estate goes back to 1947, when János Puklus founded the winery. The vineyards are located in the most southern tip of the Tokaj wine region in Bodrogkeresztúr, Tarcal and Bodrogkisfalud. The permitted varieties of Furmint, Hárslevelü, Muscat Lunel (Sárgamuskotály) and additionally to this Zéta (also known as Oremus), Kövérszölö,(later two still permitted), and Gohér (was known before phyloxera) on 15 ha, and a tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, later two are not permitted. The aszú wines are vinified in oak barrels the traditional gönci barrel (136 l) and szerednyei barrels (180-220 l), many of the wines spend a time between 3-5 years in oak sometimes even longer. It is fair to say due to this philosophy the winery can be considered as “traditional” opposed to the “new” style of making aszú wines. Aszú wines are made with the help of noble rot (botrytis cinerea) have to be picked/selected by hand several times. The pure juice dripping out by its own weight is called esszencia, this is rarely bottled on its own. Due to its high sugar content (6-700 g/l and more), very low alcohol it takes very long to ferment and it’s usually very expensive. The aszú berries are opened up with a special machine (looks like the shrivelled berries are trodden), this becomes then the aszú pastry. To this either must or fermenting must or base wine is added and the maceration can begin 12-24 hours. After the maceration pressing and aging in barrel commences. After bottling the aszú wines of Puklus winery spend another 18 months in the cellar, resting before it goes onto the market. Three puttonyos (puttony=hod/basket of 25 kg) means that 3 x 25 kg of aszú berries are used to make the pastry and then a traditional size of gönci barrel 136 l base wine (from the same vintage or must) will be added to this and the fermentation continues after pressing. Today this is measured more analytically, hence a 3 puttonyos aszú will have 60 g/l residual sugar and 30 g/l sugar free extract.

Tasting note

Deep golden colour with a lot good tropical notes, plenty of botrytis, rich and pronounced. Some spice and a lot of marmalade, jam, dried fruit, fig, prune, full one for a 3 puttonyos. Sweet, racy acidity, good balance and fresh all the way long. If you ask for style somewhere between classic, old school and the newer (if this is an appropriate term) style. Good concentration and fine finish. Drink now – 2020

5 puttonyos Tokaji Aszú Pannon Tokaj, Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region

Pannon Tokaj Ltd. was founded in 2000, the winery entirely in Hungarian ownership started as a small hobby cellar. Today its 16 ha, based in Tolcsva equipped with the most modern technology. The area is famous for its loess and nyirok soils (sort of red clay). The annual average temperature is between 9-10°C, the hottest month is July average 21°C, while January is the coldest with average -3°C. The annual rainfall is between 500-700 mm, with highest in the summer, the wine region has several rivers two of the bigger ones are the Bodrog and Hernád, the combination of the natural factors (humidity, sun, etc.) lead to the development to the botrytis cinerea, the noble rot which is crucial for the aszú wines. The wine comes from the Kincsem vineyard one of the best sites of Tolcsva from 25 year old vines. The vineyard is facing South, South-West, the soil is mainly the mention nyirok (red clay). The aszú berries (Furmint and Hárslevelü) come from other vineyards as well, but the base wine is entirely from this site. The aszú pastry (or dough) is macerated in dry base wine (fermenting wine) for 18-24 hours. After gentle pressing the wine mature for 24 months in the so called gönci barrels and after bottling rests for a further 12 months in the cellar. A few interesting figures to the wine: Residual sugar: 130 g/l Total acidity: 10,6 g/l Alcohol: 10,96 % Sugar free extract: 51,3 g/l The aszú berries had a must concentration of 58-63 KMW, which would be in sugar terms 678-763 g/l.

Tasting note

Light golden colour, bright nose but not too pronounced. Fresh with a delicate mango, tropical and spice note. Fine sweetness, yet very fresh, great balance. A bit young the wine a bit tight on the palate, but shows promising density and deepness. Ripe tropical notes, good botrytis, rich, less floralness more deepness with a hint of minerality. Drink 2016-2040

Source: Tasting notes Kristian Kielmayer

Photos: Gyula Uhrin

Wine history and Hungarian Wine Regions

History

Hungarian wine has a history dating back to at least Roman times. The best-known wines are the white dessert wine Tokay (Tokaji) and Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikavér), a full-bodied red wine.

The Romans brought vines to Pannonia, and by the 5th century AD, there are records of extensive vineyards in Hungary. Following the Magyar invasion of 896, Árpád rewarded his followers with vineyards in Tokaj-Hegyalja. Over the following centuries, new grape varieties were brought in from Italy and France, probably including Furmint and the other grapes of Tokay. Mostly white wine was made like that of their neighbours to the west.

From 1882, the phylloxera epidemic hit Hungary hard, with the traditional field blends of Eger and the many grapes of Tokaj being replaced with monocultures, often of Blaufränkisch (Kékfrankos) and the Bordeaux varieties in red wine districts, and of Furmint, Muscat and Hárslevelű in Tokaj. The twentieth century saw the introduction of modern grapes such as Zweigelt, which were easier to grow and to vinify than Kadarka, and under Communism quality was neglected in favour of overcropping, pasteurisation, and industrial production. Since 1989, there has been renewed interest in the traditional varieties, and a lot of new investment, particularly in Tokaj.

Hungary

Hungary is situated in the heart of Europe, in the lower central part of the Middle-Danube basin, surrounded by the eastern slopes of the Austrian Alps and the Carpathian mountains. It has frontiers with seven countries: Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia in the south, Serbia, Slovenia and Austria in the west.

Territory: 93,036 m2, representing altogether 1% of the territory of Europe.
Population: 10.2 million, representing altogether 2% of the population of Europe.
Capital: Budapest
Language: Hungarian, which is very different from most of the languages spoken around the world.

Hungary has been a member of the European Union since 2004.

The country is diversified by plains, hills and mountains. Basalt-vulcanite mountains are just as typical of the countryside, as chalk-stone or dolomite mountains, or flatlands filled up by rivers, saline- and sandy-soiled areas, fens and marshlands in river-flats. The red sandstone and Pannon sand of the ’Balatonfelvidék’ area, or the basalt tufa of the Tihany peninsula offer valuable and remarkable soils for wine-growing. Hungary has two large, and probably well-known rivers, River Danube and River Tisza.

There are several large natural and artificial lakes within the country, the largest one of which is Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in Central Europe with an area of 591 km2. The so-called ’Balatonfelvidék’ is a typical Hungarian wine region at the same time.

Hungary is situated in the temperate zone, its climate is basically continental, the potential extremities of which are subdued by the Carpathian ranges, and the level of rainfall is just optimal. The region at the foot of the Alps (’Alpokalja’) is a special and remarkable part of the country. Its climate is subalpine, and the level of rainfall is well-balanced. In summary, this small country has all the climate- and soil-related potentials to grow excellent wine-grapes.

The Hungarian climate is favourable for the growing of vine. The extremes of our continental climate are softened by the Carpatheans assuring milder winters, hot summers and long indian summers in autumn. The yearly precipitation in the range of 5-600 mm is also ideal for vine. The growth season, relatively long due to the climate lends extremely rich taste to our wines. The characteristics of each wine region are determined by local soil conditions and micro-climate. Officially the country has twenty-two wine regions, however, these are grouped into larger macro-regions, such as Alföld, Balaton, southern slopes of Bükk mountain, Southern Transdanubia, Northern Transdanubia, Mátra and Tokaj. In the northern wine regions mostly white wines, while in the south-western and Southern Transdanubia region mainly red wines are produced.

Favourable geological conditions make it possible for growers to produce excellent drinks from Hungarian grapes of ranging from champagne through red to exquisite white wines offering an exhilarating selection from home-bred and international varieties of wine. Home-bred varieties include Furmint, Hárslevelű, Kéknyelű, Juhfark, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Királyleányka and Leányka. Widespread international varieties grown in Hungary are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Tramini and mention should be made of Central European varieties such as Kékfrankos, Zweigelt, Kékoportó, Kadarka and Olaszrizling.

Wine regions and styles

Észak-Dunántúl (North-Transdanubia)

This wine region contains the following sub-regions:
Ászár-Neszmély: fresh and aromatic whites.
Etyek-Buda: fresh white wines, with considerable acidity.
Mór: volcanic soil, full-bodied whites. Main variety: Ezerjó.
Pannonhalma: full-bodied whites.
Sopron: elegant reds (mainly Kékfrankos).

Lake Balaton

Sub-regions:
Badacsony: volcanic soils, full-bodied whites with considerable acidity.
Balatonfelvidék: volcanic soils, full-bodied whites with considerable acidity.
Balatonfüred-Csopak: terra rossa soils, full-bodied whites with considerable acidity.
Dél-Balaton: full-bodied whites and reds with moderate acidity.
Nagy-Somló (or Somló): volcanic soil, full-bodied whites with high acidity. Main varieties are: Olaszrizling, Hárslevelű and Furmint.
Zala: mainly white wines.
The main variety of the region is Olaszrizling.

Dél-Dunántúl (South-Transdanubia)

Sub-regions:
Pécs: mainly whites. Traditional variety: Cirfandli
Villány: robust, full-bodied, spicy reds. Main varieties: Portugieser, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot and occasionally Pinot Noir.
Szekszárd: full-bodied reds, with a bit of spice. Famous wine: Szekszárdi Bikavér. Main varieties: Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Cabernet franc, Merlot
Tolna

Duna (Alföld)

Sub-regions:
Csongrád,
Hajós-Baja,
Kunság.
Mainly fresh and light wines from lots of varieties.

Észak-Magyarország (Northern-Hungary)

Sub-regions:
Eger: fresh whites from Leányka and Királyleányka, full-bodied whites mainly from Olaszrizling or Chardonnay. Home of the Egri Bikavér (bulls blood of Eger), an elegant red blend, mainly based on Kékfrankos. Good Pinot noirs.
Mátra: elegant and full-bodied whites, grown on volcanic soil. Main varieties are Müller-Thurgau, Olaszrizling and Chardonnay.
Bükkalja: mainly white wines.

Tokaj

Hungary’s most famous wine region lies in the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains of the far north of the country – in fact the traditional area crosses into the southeast corner of modern Slovakia. The area is notable for its long warm autumns and mists that come in from the River Bodrog, creating perfect conditions for noble rot. This can contribute towards creating the botrytised (‘aszú’) grapes for which the region is famous. These are individually picked as late as mid-November into buckets (‘puttonyos’) and crushed to a paste. Varying amounts of this aszú paste are then added to non-aszú must or wine made from a mix of Furmint, Hárslevelű, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Kövérszőlő or Zéta grapes, and left to ferment. The resulting wine is then aged in relatively small barrels in a labyrinth of cellars in the soft volcanic tuff, on whose walls thick blankets of fungus regulate the humidity.[1]

Given that aszú conditions only happen in perhaps three vintages per decade, a lot of dry Furmint is also produced. Other grapes grown in the area include Hárslevelű, Muscat Blanc, Kövérszőlő and Zéta.