Somló is situated in the North-West part of Hungary. Somló Hill is a single basalt dome with alluvial subsoil, a now extinct volcano towering above the surrounding plain. The whole 690 hectares of vineyards of this wine region are located on and just around this particular hill.
The most infamous grape of the region is Juhfark, (Ewe’s Tail, that I have already written a post about earlier!) but you can find Hárslevelű (Lindenleaf), Furmint, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), Tramini (Traminer), Chardonnay, Sylvaner here and even some black grapes. The highly mineral, slowly developing and concentrated wines of the region, famous for their longevity. Their fame used to rival with Tokaj.
Kreinbacher Estate in Somló, is where amongst others, they produce the finest bubblies of Hungary! The founder, József Kreinbacher purchased the first vineyards at Somló in 2002. Since then the estate grew to 48 hectares organically cultivated property. In 2011 they built a new winery with sparkling wine cellars. They have a proper Cellar Master from Champagne too! In 2014 the Kreinbacher Estate launched its very first Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wines and the rest, as they say, is history.
I am not going to write about their full range of wines, just one of the sparkling wines that I always buy a couple of bottles of, when in Hungary. Preferably the Kreinbacher Prestige Brut, which is fabulous, but their whole sparkling range is pretty great! If you see it, or have a chance, try it! It is comparable to a good Prestige Cuvée for a fairly modest price.
The Champagne influence comes in all shapes and forms here. They use Coquard presses, tempered cellars, 24-36 months bottle ageing, depending on the particular wine (it is at least twice as long as the minimum length of 9 months, required by the regulations of producing quality sparkling wines in Hungary). They use Chardonnay, Furmint and Pinot Noir. The vineyards on the cooler eastern slopes to retain acidity and picked in full, healthy bunches to create a neutral base wine.
The Prestige Brut is the finest of their sparkling wine range. Made with 71% Chardonnay and 29% Furmint. This is a somehow fresh, lively sparkler with richness from the extended lees ageing (24-30 months). Crisp, citrus-lime character with white flowers, stone fruits and toasted brioche aroma adding extra layers of complexity. Structured and balanced with an exceptionally fine mousse and tiny bubbles, an outstanding sparkling wine.
On the bottle’s neck you can see a snowdrop motif (a native plant to Somló Hill) and a hussar’s cut, diagonally through the label. Both displayed as a salute to the Hungarian national heritage. Yes, even exceptional sparkling wines can come from Hungary!
Photographs by The Tannin Addict.