Wine Region of the Week: Hungary

Posted by Michael Hutton on

Hungary Day 1

The classic European wine countries dominate the global wine world- France, Italy, Spain, followed by Germany, Austria and Portugal.  Relatively unknown and underappreciated are the wines of Hungary.  
This week we have a focus on two of the best wine regions of Hungary - Villany in the South-West, and Tokaj in the North-East.  We will taste seven different wines, all of different styles.     All of the wines are on special this week and open for tasting so come in and try with us.



Hungary is a landlocked country, surrounded by seven different countries including Austria to the West, Slovakia to the North, Romania to the East, Croatia, to the South. Sitting in the Carpathian basin means a long growing season, and 60% white wines with the reds widely grown in the warmer South.


Early winemaking

Winemaking in the region stretches back to at least Roman times, the Hungarian word for wine is 'Bor' - one of only three cultures where the term derives from eastern Turkic roots rather than Latin.  The wines too, according to wine writer Jancis Robinson retain a certain 'Magyar fire or spice' to them. 


Grof Degenfeld Tokaji Muscat Blanc 2014

While the Tokaj region is most famous for its sweet wines, the larger volumes here are dry white wines from a variety of different grapes.  Today I've opened a dry muscat from Grof Degenfeld, one of the most influential landowners in Tokaj. 

Bursting with ripe passionfruit, lime juice and mango on the nose, green apple, orange peel and faint touch of rose petal on the finish. Delightfully fresh and aromatic wine, and on sale at $25.00 per bottle.


Hungary Day 2

Continuing with our feature on Hungarian wines, I've opened another pair of wines to taste.   
Our first red of the week comes from the Villany-Siklos region, close to the Croatian border and at a similar latitude as the Northern part of Bordeaux. It enjoys a more sub-Mediterranean climate than Bordeaux but the topography has more in common with Burgundy, and noticeably cooler than other surrounding regions.  The main grapes grown here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot- sometimes produced as single varietal wines but also blended like Bordeaux.


Mont Blanc Cuvee 

Rather than a single grape variety, this "Cuvee" (French wine term meaning a blend) is made from Muscat, Chardonnay and Italian Riesling.  'Welschriesling' is not related to the more classic Rhine Riesling, and is widely grown in Central Europe.

A fragrant nose of fresh spring daffodils, pineapple, and green melon.  Dry on the palate, delicate tropical and floral flavours, a touch of oxidation and a savoury salty mineral finish. On sale at $19.00 per bottle (down from $28.50).


Bock Cabernet Sauvignon

Don't think of this as a juicy South-Australian Cabernet, Bock is a very traditional producer in the Southern region of Villanyi making a style more similar to savoury French Bordeaux in a cooler vintage.

Aromas of cedar, cassis, cigar box and damp earth, mouth filling texture with old leather, dark chocolate, bay leaf and fine tannins. Over 30 grams dry extract (for those interested, Geoff Kelly has an interesting look at dry extract). 

Excellent value at just $29.00 down from $44.00 


Hungary Day 3

We are well into our Hungarian Wines of the Week now, with 4 wines open for tasting all day in store. Bock is one of the most celebrated wineries in the famous southern region of Villány, making red wines from both indigenous and international varietals.


Co-operative Wine after WWII

Hungarian wine has fundamentally changed over the last few decades and is still changing.

Under Soviet influence after WWII, Hungary's vines were distributed amongst the population, and co-operatives were formed to produce large quantities of wine. All grape must was mixed together before being turned into wine, and a quota system focused solely on quantity, not quality. Wine was just another commodity like butter or milk.


In 1989, the Soviet system collapsed, and after decades of mass produced, poor quality wine, quality vineyard sites were rediscovered, producers invested in modern wine-making equipment and higher quality grapes were planted. Internationally, Hungary has not yet reached the reputation of more established European wine nations, but the industry has grown in leaps and bounds, and is still on the rise.


Bock Winery

The Bock family’s ancestors have been making wine for nine generations in the Villány region where they settled in the 18th century.  The vintner for the Bock Winery, József Bock, began making wine after his father passed away in 1981. Bosk have 55 hectares of vines planted, mainly red varietals, and are one of the pioneers of the region. They have a luxury hotel and restaurant at the winery, as well as a Michelin 'Bib Gourmand' winning bistro in Budapest.


Bock Cabernet Franc

Bright ruby in the glass with a garnet rim. On the nose, black cherries, cassis, liquorice root, nutmeg and fresh herbs. On the palate, a round velvety mouthfeel full of berry fruits and plum, with soft tannins and some subtle spice from the oak, as well as a stony minerality which continues through to the finish. 

On Special this week, it was $45, now $29. Come try it in store.


Hungary Day 4

The famous region of Tokaji in North-East Hungary is planted a whopping two thirds with this grape variety.  Today's tasting is possibly the most interesting of the Hungarian wines open this week.  


Furmint Grape Variety

As well as the Tokaji region, small amounts of Furmint grow in Austria, Slovakia, and Slovenia, parts of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Budding early and ripening late, it turns a golden-copper colour when ripe, and is particularly susceptible to Botrytis- the key to making the sweet Aszu wines.  


Grof Degenfeld Furmint 2013

This is not one of the sweet botrytis Aszu wines, but rather a drier style of Furmint.  A complex and nuanced wine with echos of German Riesling, French Chenin, Austrian Gruner and even Chablis. Produced in the distinctive Tokaji shaped bottle.

Green apple, sage, lanolin and flint on the nose, rich texture in the mouth with a mouth watering acidity, wax and honey, musk and baked stone fruits, and a long chalky mineral finish - beautiful wine down from $36.50 

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