The first bunches of an almost extinct Hungarian grape variety called Laska, in the new vineyard of András Kovács and Kinga Tóth, in the Mátra region. It was brought back to life by the hero of local grapes, József Szentesi, who is the only one making wine from it currently. The cuttings were taken from his vineyard in Nadap (a virtually unknown wine region, which is one of the most unique terroir in Hungary) and produced just a tiny amount of bunches this year. Watch this space, some exciting wines to be emerged from this address in the coming years!
There is quite a lot of Muscat planted in Hungary and besides some very cheap, sweet(ened) versions it’s actually used for dry wines – that’s perhaps not the most common path for Muscat growing countries. And these dry versions can be good, very good.
Turán is a Hungarian cross, a teinturier grape variety (whose flesh is red, or rather inky purple) with poor reputation. It ripens early, has a muscat-like aroma but it’s very tannic and slightly bitter to taste. A blending component to boost color, not much else – at least in most winemakers’ eye.
A small batch Syrah from one of Szekszárd’s top producers, Heimann. The new generation – jr. Zoltán Heimann – is making more and more impact on the winery style and I’m sure this wine reflects his ideas.
This is simply one of the greatest dry Tokaji Furmints I have ever tasted. I can recall only a few bottles of Szepsy and Demeter Zoltán from the last two decades, that amazed me this much. Those were made in a very different style, though, oaked and full-bodied.
I could not name a more exciting Hungarian red wine than Szentesi’s Tihanyi Kék. It’s even more individual than his Csókaszőlő, though both are highlights for me from his range of wines, in every vintage.
Irsai Olivér is a local grape of Hungary, a cross made in 1930. It has a bad reputation amongst wine aficionados as a dull, cheap, mass produced wine. An equivalent of low priced Pinot Grigio perhaps – except that it’s a highly aromatic, Muscat-like variety. And when made well, it can be quite pretty, like the most well-known version, made near Budapest by Nyakas.
I attended Borjour’s so called Bikavér Duel event in March, where the two wine regions eligible to use the name Bikavér showcased their wines. Eger impressed me a bit more than Szekszárd, especially the Böjt 2016. I bought a bottle the next week.