Hungary

Mention the name and it conjures up pictures of… absolutely nothing for many individuals, and that is component of her issue. Budapest might be expanding as a city break destination, but Hungary as a wine nation hasn't truly captured the imagination of drinkers within the UK.

Background, geography and climate

Hungary does have a lot to provide as wine nation - following all wine has been component from the culture for centuries and Hungarians consume about 31 litres a head every year - nicely ahead from the British.

Outdoors her borders, Hungary is very best recognized for Tokaji, really from the world's fantastic sweet wines, and for easy, affordable whites. Inside her borders, like everywhere else, the pursuit of red wine holds powerful.

The Red Crown

Attila Gere is extensively regarded as Hungary's leading red wine maker and has constructed a spanking new tasting space, taken more than by a group of enthusiastic sommeliers in coaching when I was there. There is no doubt his wines make a bold statement with their richness and intensity. He also features a joint venture with Austrian Franz Weninger and these wines show a touch much more elegance and finesse. (Weninger also tends to make an impressive Syrah and velvety Kékfrankos from his vineyards in Sopron close to the Austrian border). Neighbours Ede Tiffán and Jószef Bock also make wines inside a comparable mould with energy and extraction initial and foremost, although sometimes a bit hot and rustic.

Star of Villány for me is Csaba Malatinzky, nonetheless regarded as an upstart outsider by the locals. Formerly a sommelier in Hungary's very best restaurant, he had the opportunity to taste the very best within the globe prior to developing his personal winery in 1997. Quick driving and thinking (it requires him two hours to drive from Budapest, when it took me four hours), there is no resting on his laurels right here. He attends to each fine detail (meticulously wiping the bung holes of his barrels to prevent drips) as well as goes towards the difficulty of sieving out the pips 1 week into fermentation to prevent extracting harsh seed tannins. There is extensively held view in Hungary that Cabernet Franc has discovered its spiritual house in Hungary, and Malatinzky's flagship version is beautiful.

Szekszárd will be the primary challenger to Villány's red crown and 2003 is regarded as a especially excellent year right here, although I discovered myself shown barrel samples of Cabernet Franc with alcohol levels of more than 17%.

Although its sheer ripeness might impress particular palates, I discovered the loss of all varietal character or drinkability an excessive amount of. Apart from the inevitable Cabernets and Merlots, some producers are operating difficult with nearby grapes, and Takler's Kékfrankos is really a revelation (mainly Kékfrankos is light and lean) with its velvety black cherry notes and twist of spice. Bikavér is impressive right here also and totally various to most interpretations of Bulls Blood.

On a larger scale, the Liszt winery, owned by German George von Twickel, is creating all of the correct moves in focussing on high quality from the vineyards, now almost 100 hectares. It was the very first winery to become sold to a foreigner in 1993 (although Twickel's mother was Hungarian-born). Merlot and Cab Sauvignon Barrique wines are very best but nearby Kékoportó tends to make a supple, herb-scented, damson-like wine, in an easy-drinking style.

On the Shoreline

It's a lengthy, and in locations hair-raising, drive as much as Badascony on the shore of Lake Balaton, historically recognized for its whites, as reds had been forbidden right here below the communist regime. The law was changed five years ago and these days 100 from the 1800 hectares right here are red. 50 hectares belong to Domaine Szeremley, now on just their second red vintage. Pinot Noir from imported clones has beautiful fine structure and purity of fruit, whilst a infant Syrah looked slightly jammy but worth pursuing. Szeremley also specialises in distinctive nearby grapes like the rediscovered Bakator.

Crossing Borders

Hungary's leading reds are lavishly praised and priced to match inside her borders, although export isn't going to so simple. Producers in Villány lately set up a blind tasting challenge against the likes of Petrus, Ornellaia as well as other international greats. They comfort themselves with how nicely they did, although because the tasting was carried out primarily by the winemakers in tune with their very own designs, together with a few Austrian writers, it's difficult to see this creating a large news story. Maybe a couple of much more international judges would give much more of an influence.