A new year, a new wine tasting of mine, although it was in last January. I am rather fond of tastings, because I love to taste and talk about why wine taste the way it tastes. And whatever stories are around their birth to tell their tale. It seemed that the esteemed guests enjoyed it too. That is half of the battle! Or the bottle?...
The tasting featured some great Hungarian wines. The trouble is always to find them in the UK. You definitely need some digging around, as it is a niche market. People are not necessarily ready to try a Kékfrankos, a Királyleányka, a Furmint, because they have never heard of them.
The wines were superb quality, but you need to find a specialist and decent wine merchant to source them and even so, you need some more guidance. As you will not know from the confusing labelling which is the grape, which is the winemaker, or the actual place of origin. Hungarians are rebels. We rebel against rules and we like to do things our own way. Which is the best way of course. That is why things are kind of mixed up on the labels. We like to be different. Sticking out like a sore thumb, just because we can.
You can usually find two types of labelling around the world. The classic French way, which gives you the name and exact location of your precious wine in big bold letters, to make sure that you opt for the preferred terroir with a bit of a twist naturally. Otherwise it wouldn’t be French, would it? Well, you should have some previous knowledge, rather extensive familiarity about French wine, to be able to identify what you can find in the bottle. Hands up, if you would know of the top of your head what grape/s is/are in a bottle of Château Lanessan and where it is coming from! Do not just google it right away!
Here is another is varietal labelling. Sauvignon Blanc. There you are. Who would not know what to expect? This simple way of labelling is used all over the world, even in the South of France, because it is easier for a layman to pick something to one's liking.
Then here come Hungarians and they give you all sorts of information in their funny language and the bold capitals could mark pretty much any particulars. Some funky indigenous grape like, Portugieser that you have never ever seen or tried. Although you can find international grape varieties too, but at the very good or premium category it is hardly ever the case. It could be a winemaker, like Bolyki. Is that a family name or a given name by the way(?), you may ask? You can find examples for both! It could be the name of the winery, like Gróf Buttler, which is not connecting to the region, or to the winemaker. It could be the name of the region, like Tokaji, which can be anything from sparkling, to dry or sweet, single varietal or a blend of 5-6 different, unpronounceable grape varieties. The only thing a Tokaji cannot be is red.
To top it all, it is more often than not, a fantasy name, like Daydreamer, Barbaric or Indian Summer is given to the wine too. Fabulous! Of course, written in the local twang, just to help you out. There you have it in all its glory. Go figure!
I think it is easy to understand why it is important to find some help when you buy into wines costing more than a tenner from that neck of the wood. Otherwise I always try to suggest for everybody that you should try something its name you cannot pronounce. It is part of the fun, and you might like it!
The wines we have tried included these:
- Bolyki, Királyleányka, Marinka Vinyard, Eger, Hungary 2016,
- Furmint Selection, Márga, Szent Donát Winery, Csopak, Balaton, 2015,
- Vesztergombi, Bull`s blood, Kerekhegy, Bodzás and Szarvasteto Vinyards, 2015
- Takler, Kékfrankos Reserve, Szekszárd, Hungary, 2013
Special thank You for the guys at Novel Wine (Ben and György) for importing some great stuff and being so helpful above and beyond!
Photographs by The Tannin Addict.