This area between Eger and Miskolc has been somewhat neglected. This is a great shame for in the past fine Hungarian wines were made that were intended to be used in production of sparkling wines. This area has great potential but has been poorly managed. The soil consists of loess and chalk yet unfortunately only produces very simple white wines that are very acidic. Drinking temperature for this Hungarian is 8-10°C (46.4-50°F).
A cuvée is generally a better class of wine. These Hungarian wine are made from various combinations such as the classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, or Franco-Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with Kékfrankôs or Kékoportô), pure Hungarian Kékfrankôs and Kékofrankôs, Austro-Hungarian Blauburger, Zweigelt, Kékfrankôs, Kékofrankôs, or French in style Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir with an impossible accent.
There are countless excellent cuvées that each has its own character and taste. The best classical ones come from Polgar, Bock, Tarnas and Attila Gere, and Tiffan. Tiffan and Vylyan make the best Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian style cuvées, while Bock and Vylyan specialise in unusual cuvées of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Etyek to the west of Budapest is the closest wine area to the capital. Those who like their wine harsh will certainly find it here. Chardonnays here are greener than anywhere else and rarely convincing. Some wines even smell strongly of sulphur but these are best ignored for these Hungarian wines.
The Sauvignon Blancs of Etyek Vinum and Hungarovin (Gyôrgy Villa Selection) are much better. The best Etyek Hungarian wines are perhaps the less commercial ones such as Etyeki Kirâlyléanyka of Etyekvinum and Olaszrizling Gyôrgy Villa of Hungarovin. Drinking temperature for this Hungarian wine is 8-12°C (46.4-53.6°F).
Hungary is a relatively small Central European state with the greatest distance from east to west being 530 km (331 miles) and 270 km (168 miles) from north to south. The climate is determined by changing fronts from three different climate systems: the severe Russian continental climate, the pleasant Mediterranean climate, and remnants of a moderate maritime climate. Winters are moderately cold and the summers are hot.
Hungarian wine-growing dates back to the time of the Roman emperor Probus who had vineyards planted on slopes along the Danube in about 276 AD. These vineyards were significantly extended during the period that the Austro-Hungarian Empire flourished. During the period of Soviet domination Hungary was ‘permitted’ to produce large amounts of steel so that the wine industry was to a large extent neglected. The Hungarian wines of that era were produced in huge agricultural plants and disappeared to the USSR.
The area of Kunság (known as Kiskunsag up to 1998) is on the Great Plain (Alfold) of Hungary to the south of the town of Kecskemet and extends to the small town of Hajos. This region does not have a real history of wine making, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century when it was found that phylloxera less readily affected vines grown on sandy soils such as those in the south of Hungary. The climate is also not ideal for Hungarian wine-growing with very hot and totally dry summers and extremely cold winters. This Hungarian wines from this area are mainly intended for sale as bulk wine and they have little to offer except the high alcohol of both reds and whites, and the syrupy nature of the white Hungarian wine. Drinking temperature is 8-10°C (46.4-50°F ) for white Hungarian wines and 12-16°C (53.6-60.8°F) for red Hungarian wines.
Slovakia is much smaller than the Czech Republic and this is made more telling by the fact that about one third of the country consists of the Tatra mountains (Nizke Tatiy). Slovakia borders Poland, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The climate is continental with mountain influences, with hot dry summers and very cold winters.
The vineyards are concentrated in two areas, in the south west near Bratislava, close to the Czech, Austrian, and Hungarian borders, and to the east of Kosice against the border with Hungary and the Ukraine. Both areas are characterised by many rivers, the Danube (Donau) and its tributaries the Váh, Nitra, and Hron in the west and Hronád, Topla, and Ondava in the east.
The area surrounding Lake Balaton is ideal for summer holidays. The lake itself is a watersports paradise. The lake is 77 km (48 miles) long and 14 km (9 miles) wide as its broadest point. The water is only some 3-4 metres (10-13 feet) deep except around the Bay of Tihany where the lake can be 12 metres (39 feet) deep.
The climate is mild in winter and hot in summer (above 25°C). The water temperature varies in the summer between 20 and 26°C (68-78.8°F). In addition to still wines, the wine areas around Lake Balaton also produce several very acceptable sparkling wines.
Although vines have been grown for wine in Hungary since Celtic times - before the Roman invasion - it was the Magyars in the 9th century who increased the vineyard acreage and production. Many of the vineyards can trace their history back centuries, and some as far back as the 12th century. The Tokaj- Hagyalja region not only produces Hungary’s most famous wine, but is home to some of the oldest vineyards which were planted at the end of the 9th century. Phylloxera hit Hungary in the 1880s and destroyed three quarters of the vineyards. Those which survived were mostly planted in very sandy soil, through which the phylloxera bug cannot travel.
The dry (szâraz) Tokaji Szâraz Szamorodni has much in common with a Fino Jerez (sherry). Drinking temperature for this Tokaji Hungarian wine is 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
The secret of Tokay wine is the microclimate which causes autumnal mists in the morning which are driven away later in the day by the heat of the sun. These are ideal environmental conditions for Botiytis cinerea (the noble rot) which eviscerates almost all the moisture from the grapes, leaving a very high concentration of sugars, aromatic, and flavour substances in the grapes.
Tolna is a new Hungarian wine area that was part of Szekszárd until recently. Although the name of Tolna is little known outside of Hungary, the area produces wines of exceptional quality. The Hungarian wines were better known for a long time under the name Bátaapáti, but these days the better wines bear the Möscényi Kastélyborok name on the label. The company of Európai Bortermelök, which is a joint venture between Piero Antinori and Peter Zwack set up in 1991, is a typical example of what can happen elsewhere in Hungary. Hungary has the capability to become a top wine-producing country. With good insight, plenty of foreign investment, government help, and good wine-making skills, everything is possible. The wines from this company are the fruit of bringing together the Hungarian wine traditions with the latest technology, combined with ideal climate and geological conditions.
This is the most southerly of Hungary’s wine areas and it consists of two parts. Both sections are sited at the foot of the Villányi mountain. Siklós is better known for its predominantly white wines and Villány for its fine reds. There are six top Hungarian wine producers in Villány. It is surely no coincidence that the six best wine-makers of Hungary originated from Villány. They are Attila and Támas Gere, Zoltán Polgár, Ede Tiffan, Joszef Bock, Vylyan. Villány wines are quite likely to develop into some of the best in Europe in the coming years.
Villany’s volcanic soils and favourable climate helps to produce Cabernet Sauvignon wines of great style. Although not native, the grapes here produce a Hungarian wine that is characteristic of this southern region, filled with colour, very aromatic with suggestions of berries and peppers, with a fulsome and powerfully fiery taste with considerable tannin. These Hungarian wines of superb class have great potential for ageing well, especially those that are cask aged (such as those of Vylyan, Bock, and Tiffan). Drinking temperature for this Hungarian wine is 16-17°C (60.8-62.6°F).
A cuvée is generally a better class of wine. These Hungarian wine are made from various combinations such as the classic Cabernet Sauvignon,
It is impossible in short to describe all the wine areas of Hungary so the emphasis is placed on the best of them. In 1998 there were at least 22 different wine areas in Hungary of which the best are Sopron, Aszar- Nesmzmely, and Etyek (north west), Matraalja, Eger, and Tokajhegyalja (north east), Villany Siklos, Szekszard, and Tolna (south west), with to a lesser extent Badacsony (north east), Balatonfiired- Csopak, Balatonmellek, and Del-Balaton (Lake Balaton).
Sopron is a perfect example of a restored and cared for old historic town. The old town centre is one of the most attractive in Europe. The area surrounding the town is also beautiful with green undulating hills and enormous fields of oilseed rape.