Hungarian Wine Regions
Like in the wine regions on the Alfold the production of table wines is dominant here as well. Growing the vine Kovidinka a characteristic method was used, the so called pruning to the basal bud, which does not even need stakes. The wine production of this region can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The town received the title International Town of the Grape and Wine in 1986 as an appreciation of its viticulture and the quality of the wines.
Though the ecological conditions on the Alfold are not so good as in the mountain regions, the quality of wine, if treated in the right way, can be compared with that of the wine of the mountains. The representatives of German architecture in Hungary, the characteristic press-houses making up the cellar-village of Hajos, together with Hungarian hospitality make this wine region very attractive for wine-lovers.
The largest wine region of the country is to be found on the Great Hungarian Plain (Alfold) with its sandy soil. A part of the vine was planted here in order to bind the wind-blown sand. The wine grown on the sandy soil of this region is known as the wine of the weekdays. It is not for particular events, nor for the festive board, but the "tavern wine" is an important part of everyday life. The acids of the wines of the plain are milder than of those grown on highlands, and that fits the taste of our days better. The big quantity of the wines produced on the Alföld does not mean plainness at all.
This wine region recently attained or rather got back the rank as a wine region. About the wine growing on the vineyards of Neszmely looking upon the Danube Istvan Szechenyi wrote praising words too and many people liked the pleasant start taste of the wine produced here. The famous model vineyards and the wine cellars in Aszar of the estate in Csakvar of the Esterhazy family contributed to the international repute of the region in the second half of the XIXth century as well.
The wines produced around Lake Balaton own a special character. Badacsony is one of the most famous wine regions of Hungary - where sitting about in front of a wine cellar we can delight all our senses, as the quality of the wines is accompanied by the beauty of the scenery, the view of the lake, the vineyards, the press-houses with white walls, and the small villages at the bottom of the hills. Many artists and scientists devoted their works to the spell of the scenery and it may not be by chance that the wine of Badacsony was called the "nectar of gods".
This wine region, as its name tells us, is divided into two wine producing regions. The wines of Balatonfured are more full-bodied, more warming and their alcohol contents is higher - while the wines of Csopak are more modest, lighter, slimmer, and they are richer in fragrance and bouquet. Balatonfured and its surroundings are made attractive by the mineral water and the wine together. People from all over the world travel here to pamper themselves from both outside and inside. The sparkling carbonic medical water, the unique climate - beneficial for those suffering from heart diseases and the strength of fine white wine do their best.
This wine region with rich medieval tradition is not positioned right at Lake Balaton, but its climate is still influenced by the nearness of the lake. This region was already discovered by urban people years ago because of its beauty and the decreasing number of its original inhabitants. A great number of artists moved here, who had the preservation of the scenery at heart and have done a lot for that purpose. Mainly the surroundings of the Kali-basin is characterised by old houses, churches, inns, and wine-cellars awaiting guests, renovated with demanding care and new ones, fitting into the landscape with their style.
Though this territory got the rank of a wine region only in 1990, vine growing here has had a tradition of several centuries. In recent years quality wine has been produced here too, but mainly the champagne-base-wine production is characteristic of the region. Since the end of the XIXth century the famous Törley champagnes have also been produced of base-wine from Etyek. It is worth visiting the round cellars and the nice German houses of the previous century, several old, precious winery tools can be found in them.
The picturesque Valley of Mor runs between two mountains, the Vertes and the Bakony; this is the home of the Ezerjo. Though the Ezerjo is an old Hungarian variety, it has found its real home here, in the wine region of Mor. The new territory has made wonder to this vine variety, elsewhere rather average and hardly known, and has revealed its unknown characteristics. Recently other vine varieties giving wines of excellent quality have been introduced here.
The first Benedictine monks came to Hungary in the year 996 and settled on the hill (named Saint Martin Mountain) near the small village Pannonia and built a monastery. The monastery of Pannonhalma was the first and has been the most famous monastery of the Benedictines until today. The monks of the order preached the importance and know-how of vine production from the pulpit. The first written record about vine growing is to be found in the deed of foundation of the Monastery of Pannonhalma.
The smallest, but one of the most famous of our wine regions is located around an extinct volcano. There were times when its fame preceded even that of Tokaj. The wine of Somlo is so full of the oil of the ecstasy of creation that it is only to be drunk in devoted, definitely quiet, balanced loneliness. It is the wine of the wise, of those people who at last have learnt the greatest knowledge, serenity.
The wine region Sopron is one of the most ancient wine growing regions of the country. Grape seed finds prove that already the Celts dealt here with vine growing. Vine growing has been performed in this region since then. Almost everyone had a vineyard and a cellar, and nearly every farmer here had the wine licence. A fresh pine-bough hanging from a bar indicated that new wine and a bundle of straw that aged wine was sold. A red or white ribbon showed that the farmer was selling red or white wine. This nice custom is reviving in the streets of Sopron.
Before the Turkish occupation, due to the vine, this county was one of the richest ones of the country. The nearness of the lake, which is shallower here than on the northern shore, so it gets warm relatively fast, and creates a favourable microclimate and has a favourable influence on the vineyards of the hill slopes. Because of the nearness of Lake Balaton, the beauty of the land, the old country-seats and cellars this region is visited by a lot of people these days as well.
Mecsekalja “was created even by God to be a wine growing region”, and the people observed this in time as vine has been grown here for 2000 years. Vine feels well on the soil and climate created for it and it is very thankful for the invested work. Pecs (Sopianae) was the trade centre of this wine region already in the antiquity. The base wines of the long tradition champagne production in Pecs have been produced in this region since the XIXth century.
In the XIXth century the red wine of Szekszard ("Kadarka") was delivered to all parts of Europe. France bought big quantities at the time of the Phylloxera pest, as (as they said) only the wine of Szekszard came up to the quality of their wines. Franz Liszt tasted the wine visiting Szekszard several times, he presented even Pope Pius IX. with it in 1865 who wrote the following appreciative words about it: "...this wine of Szekszard preserves my health and unbroken spirit."
Villany is the most southern wine region of Hungary therefore some people even call it the Mediterranean wine region of Hungary. According to the tradition Hungarian wine-making was born here, in this region. "The elegant wine, that of Villany is the wine of the cavaliers and the ladies. As for me, I would only give Villany wine for balls... All its advantages come to light when you have had a bath, shaved and changed from head to toe. The best in tails or a dinner jacket, ladies in neckline. It is moderate, fine, well educated." - writes Bela Hamvas. The excellence of the wine of Villany is illustrated by the fact that it came outside Europe in the XIXth century, to America and Brazil.
Similarly to the wine regions Eger and Tokaj wine is stored here in - sometimes huge - cellars hollowed in rhyolite-tuff. Some of the walls and columns are decorated by the precious works of peasant stonecutters. The famous wine of Miskolc was aged in cellars covered with thick mould. On the hill Avas, which is altogether 100 metres high, once there used to be rich vineyards. On its slopes more than a thousand cellars were hollowed.
This old, baroque town is known abroad first of all for its wine. Though the ecological conditions are favourable for white wine production, the name "Egri Bikaver" (Bull's Blood of Eger) sounds familiar all over the world and this wine made the town of Eger and its surroundings famous. There is a large cellar- and cave-system beneath Eger, through the corridors of the cellars the town can be walked through under the surface in its whole width. Parts of the caves are of natural origin, but most of them are artificial, decorated with carvings.
In our largest hill- and mountain wine region good quality white wine is produced. The hill-sides are sheltered from the north wind by the mountain chain of the Matra and most of the vine-territories can be found amidst forests. Past and present get on well together: modern wine production and the old, merry, Hungarian vintage tradition do not exclude each other. Several medieval wine cellars can be found in the area, some of them have been reconstructed and offer wine even today. The wine region reaches its market succes mainly with its reductive, fruity wines.
20. Tokaj (formerly spelled Tokay in English)
Tokaj is emerging as one of the most interesting wine regions in Europe, not just for its sweet Aszu's and distinctive dry whites, but also for its unusual blend of history and cultures. Wines with the highest alcohol, sugar, and acid contents of the country are born in Tokaj-Hegyalja. It can only be spoken in the superlative about this wine, as it is a medicine, a real nectar. Hungary’s most famous wine, the legendary sweet elixir, Tokaji Aszu is made around the town of Tokaj in the north-east. The secret of this wine is not to be sought extra in the nature of climate, position or soil, but in the common effect of all of these. The long, hazy, sunny autumn is favourable for the shrivelling of the ripe grape berries and for the development of noble rot. In order to achieve the quality, the role of ageing and storage cannot be neglected either. The cellar-system hollowed into rhyolite-tuff is optimal - the changes in temperature are 1-2 °C over the year, and that is very advantageous for the wine. The degree of humidity is brought to an even level by a cellar-mould called Cladosporium cellare, which covers the walls thickly, and covering the bottles like a velvety blanket preserves them for decades faithfully.The fungus, Botrytis cinerea covers the grapes and makes the skin of the berries thinner, helping create the perfect harmony of acid and sugar. The world famous Szamorodni and Aszu wines are made by adding these berries with noble rot, and the more aszu-grapes the wine contains the more precious it is. Tokaj wine region is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Several harrow cellars prove that the tradition of viticulture at the hills of Zala goes back to the past more 100 years. The characteristic representatives of folk architecture can only be met in this area by now. The harrow-cellars were carpentered from timbers and were plastered with clay from in - and outside. There have only been left a few samples of them by now - breathing the strange atmosphere of death. By becoming a wine region in 1998 again, there is once more hope that the values here - coming into adequate hands - will be preserved.
The wine region of Tolna belongs to the wine regions since 1998. However, vinegrowing has had an old tradition here it can be traced back to the Roman times. The settlers of German nationality, whose role was very important in strengthening the viticulture deceased by the XVIth century, have played a significant role in vinegrowing. The main pride of the wine region is the cellar-village of Gyorkony.
Decanter Awards of Hungarian Wines
The Decanter World Wine Award:
Decanter's Awards are given from the judge's of the world's best wine tasters. They have the chance to try medal winning wines from the world's most respected and influential competition. The number of Hungarian Decanter Awards and the reality that Hungary is the 19th biggest wine producer country are facts what the Hungarian Wine Society can be proud of. Every wine in the tasting has stood out among thousands of entries. Take the time out of your tasting schedule and discover great wines from our independent hungarian selections.