Current situation wine Hungary
A wine country to watch. Hungary is working hard to regain a reputation largely built on Bull’s Blood and Tokay but which has started to slip. There are 13 wine growing regions with about 400,000 acres of vineyards producing almost 450 million litres of wine a year. Independent Hungarian wineries now operate alongside state-owned enterprises and joint ventures, notably with Hugh Ryman and his team of Australian winemakers, have produced some exciting results. There is also a lot of investment in modernising wineries. About half the country’s production is exported, traditionally to Eastern Europe but the emphasis is now on selling more to the West, especially medium price range wines. The vineyard area has halved in the past 20 years as growers concentrated on quality rather than quantity production. There have been extensive plantings of Chardonnay, Riesling and Traminer together with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Most promising are Cabernets from Vilnay in the north east, Traminer from Sopron and fine whites from Lake Balaton.
Local varieties: Furmint, Hdrslevelii, Kadarka, Leanyka, Szukebarat and Ezerjo.
Classic varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Sylvaner.
Hungarian Wine Regions
Famous for strong red Bull’s Blood, but the quality is now very variable. The Great Plain A huge, sandy area resistant to vine diseases, which produces mostly white Hungarian wine for bulk export to Germany for blending. Promising Riesling and some good light Cabernet.
The vineyards around Europe’s largest lake produce some of Hungary’s best whites, especially from Riesling, Furmint and Traminer.
Produces some of the best Kadarka and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hungary’s oldest wine region, noted for light, Beaujolais-style reds made from the Kekfrancos grape, and rich, honeyed whites from Traminer.
Tokay In the north-east.
A producer of one of the world’s great wines, which keeps on improving with age but still retains freshness and fruit. The grapes are picked late after being attacked by ‘noble rot’, which concentrates the natural sugar. The grapes are then left in small tubs (putton) where their own weight extracts an intensely sweet juice. This essence is drawn off and the grapes left are mashed and put in a gone, a 140 litre cask of dry base wine. Sweetness is determined by the number of putton loads of essence which are added (puttonyos). The sweeter the wine, the longer it needs to be aged.
Styles Hungarian Wines
Cabernet Franc: soft, light and pleasantly fruity. Drink this Hungarian wine youngish.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Complex rich fruit, blackcurranty with a hint of sweetness. Will age .
Merlot: Soft, fruity and easy drinking. Drink young this Hungarian wine.
Pinot Noir: Light bodied, fruity and slightly, aromatic. You can drink young this Hungarian wine.
Shiraz: Soft, full and fruity. Age well.
Kadarka: The most planted variety. Big, full flavoured, fruity, will age for this Hungarian wine.
Chardonnay: Wood-matured and lively with good fruit/oak balance. Drink youngish this Hungarian wine.
Furmint: Light, pungent and fresh with a hint of dry apricots. Age well.
Muscat: Fresh, flowery and medium sweet to sweet. Drink youngish this Hungarian wine.
Olasz Riesling: Light, medium dry to sweet. Drink youngish this Hungarian wine.
Tokay: From dry to sweet, measured in Puttonyos up to 8 for the rare Essencia. The sweetest has a sherrylike nose and is clean, luscious soft with rich fruit and a big, lingering finish.