Some Hungarian Wines

We just got back the other day from a trip to Budapest where we tasted some of the local wines. Unfortunately we didn't have the time to go out to the wine country, so all of these were tasted in wine bars, of which there are plenty in the city. The only thing I new about Hungarian wines before this trip was Tokaji and Bull's Blood, and the bottle of the latter I bought here several years ago was really nasty.

My notes, for the 3 people on these forums that will actually be interested. Big Grin These first ones were tasted at the Borvendeglo Wine Bar near Heros Square.

2004 Gundel, Tokaji Furmint

This is a dry white varietal that J3 and Haggis had told me was decent drink a few weeks ago. Really odd nose of petrol and smoke, but not unpleasant. Medium bodied, crisp and refreshing with good apple flavours. 86 pts.

2004 Szeremley Huba, Rizling, Badacsonyi Szemelt

OK, so the names are challenging, but this was obviously a riesling. Petrol on the nose, this was a light-medium bodied, off-dry style of riesling. Grapefruit flavours and minerally, but slightly astringent finish. 86 pts.

2004 Lesence Estate, Pinot Gris, Lesencetomaji

Nice nose of pear and melon. Medium-full bodied with pear flavours and a good minerally finish. Best of the whites that night. 89 pts.

2006 Duzsi Tamas, Szekszardi Ujbor Rose

Absolutely no clue what varietals made up this wine, but it had a good floral and strawberry nose. Light and crisp this was a very good rose with strawberry flavours. 87 points.

2001 Gundel, Pinot Noir, Egri Barrique

Aromas of sour cherries and cough syrup. Medium bodied with more sour cherry flavours on a short finish. This is pinot? Drinkable. 80 pts.

2002 Pok Tamas, Egri Bikaver Monarhia

Egri Bikaver...Bull's Blood. Hey this is nothing like that swill I had years ago. Dark garnet colour with cocoa and black cherry aromas. Medium-full bodied with some really nice blackberry and black cherry flavours. The finish was lacking a little so I could only score it 89 points, but a very good wine.

2002 Gal Tibor, Egri Bikaver

I recognized this name and knew he was a winemaker for some Italian winery. When I got to a computer a few days later, I read that Tibor Gal was the winemake at Ornellaia from 1993 to 2001. This was his home winery in Hungary where he produced quite a few different types of wines. I use the past tense because he was killed in a car accident last year. His version of Bull's Blood was quite different from the previous wine. Lighter bodied, but more elegant and very well balanced with sweet black fruit flavours on the tannic finish. 90 pts.

2001 Gundel, Muscat Lunel Edes, Tokaji

Hmmmm, seems to be a lot of Gundel wines on the list at this place. Burnt gold colour with a peach and floral nose. Medium-full bodied sweet wine with good peach flavours, but slightly cloying. 86 pts.

2000 Gundel, Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos

Burnt gold colour with petrol and peach aromas. Medium-full bodied with excellent honey, apricot and burnt orange flavours on a long sweet finish. More nose and this would be awesome. 92 pts and I bought a bottle for about $20.

The next night we went to another place that was recommended by the waiter from the above wine bar. Borbirosag Csarnokters is a wine bar/restaurant near the central market that has excellent food and wine at very reasonable prices. My notes from that night.

2004 Gyorgykovacs Imre, Furmint, Somlo

Straw yellow colour with a big nose of smoke and grapefruit. So is smoke a characteristic of furmint? Full bodied wine, with citrus and melon flavours and a long finish. Low acidity. My favourite dry white of the trip. 90 pts.

2004 Takler Ferenc, Bikaver Reserve

Black fruit and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, very dry wine with good black currant flavours, but a short thin finish. 84 pts.

1997 Jozsef Bock, Royal Cuvee, Villany

A blend of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Good nose of cherry, cassis with some secondary aromas of indian spice and cedar hinting at its age. Medium bodied wine with sour cherry and vanilla flavours on an abrupt finish. Intersting wine. 87 pts.

2004 Tiffan Ede & Zsolt, Cuvee Carissimae, Villany

A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cab franc. Big nose of cassis and cocoa. Dark ruby colour, full bodied wine with chocolate, blueberry and vanilla flavours on a long finish. A well balanced, young tannic wine that needs some time, but my favourite red of the trip. 91 pts.

1999 Oremus, Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos

They served this ice cold, which they said is the way Hungarians drink it. OK. Golden yellow colour with a big nose of apricot. Thick and rich with apricot and honey flavours with the acidity to keep it from being cloying. 91 pts and paired well with apple strudel and vanilla cream sauce. Yum.

We really enjoyed Budapest. Good food and surprisingly good wines for a low profile country.
Original Post
I found it very interesting. I'm always on the lookout for new areas to visit, especially those with wineries. Am I correct in assuming that the wines you did not specifically say were sweet were dry? Other than the wine tasted, how was the rest of your trip?
I must be one of those 3 people who are interested in Hungarian wine. First, did you go to Marvany Menyasszony which is the one restaurant I suggested is a must visit in my Budapest thread? If so, what did you think?

Second, thanks for the notes. I enjoyed reading them. I have never heard of a winery called Gundel. However, the finest restaurant in Budapest is called Gundel and I would bet that this label may be a house brand for them. The most famous producer on your list is Oremus who makes some excellent aszu wines. Never heard of serving it ice cold though, even when we visited the Tokaji region.

Lastly, I would not call Furmint a dry white variety. It is the main grape used to make Tokaji Aszu dessert wines. Although some dry wines have always been made using this varietal, it is only recently that some producers are taking dry Furmints more seriously. The dry furmint Jcubed and haggis were probably referring to was a bottle I brought back from Tokaji made by Uri Borok. TN is here. In my estimation, Uri Borok is the finest producer in all of Hungary so his wine may not be representative. I did have another semi dry Furmint within the last few months by Kiralyudvar which I posted on here (93 pointer).

VM
Board-O, yes, they were all dry wines with the exception of course of the Tokaji Aszu and Muscat. The trip was excellent. 3 days in Budapest and then 4 in Prague. It was a hastily arranged vacation to use up some days and frequent flyer miles. We enjoyed both cities even though they are very different.

VM, yep you are one of the 3. Somehow I missed that restaurant from your Where Budapest thread, even though it's pretty clear as I read it now. I did look at the Artotel, but the rates were almost 200 Euros/night, which is more than I felt like paying. The wine bar where we had the Gundel wines is downstairs from the restaurant bearing that name. The food in the wine bar is very good at half the price.

WRT furmint, I only meant that it was dry in the table wine versions we had. I did see your many TN's yesterday when I was searching to see if there were any existing notes on any of the wines we had. I also saw your note about that great Eszencia you had, which sounded awesome.
I visited Budapest over the summer and also tried the Bock Cab/Pinot blend, but a more recent vintage than yours. I never thought that combo could work, but it did. The label didn't note the percentages, but my guess was 75-80% cab because the aromatics didn't scream Pinot Noir, but the Pinot seemed to give the wine a silkier mouth feel than you'd usually get in a young cab.
When it comes to Hungarian wine, I am a total novice. It is a region I’d like to become more familiar with. I’m particularly interested in Tokaji Aszu. I assume, but am not sure, that “Puttonyos” is a measure of sweetness. What is the highest number of Puttonyos? On a “sweetness scale” how would 5 Puttonyos equate to a good Sauternes, Beerenauslese, or Trockenbeerenauslese?

Thanks
I did find the following at winegeeks.com:

Puttonyos

The measure of sweetness of a Tokaj wine. Traditionally measured by the number of hods of Aszú added to a barrel of wine, but now measured in grams of residual sugar.”

I’ve found conflicting information on the amount, or number, of Puttonyos. One site says the maximum is seven. Another site states that the number ranges from three to six. I really haven’t found anything that will give me some sort of an equivalency to reference and compare Tokaji Aszu against other sweet wines.
quote:
Originally posted by steve8:
Board-O, yes, they were all dry wines with the exception of course of the Tokaji Aszu and Muscat. The trip was excellent. 3 days in Budapest and then 4 in Prague. It was a hastily arranged vacation to use up some days and frequent flyer miles. We enjoyed both cities even though they are very different.

VM, yep you are one of the 3. Somehow I missed that restaurant from your Where Budapest thread, even though it's pretty clear as I read it now. I did look at the Artotel, but the rates were almost 200 Euros/night, which is more than I felt like paying. The wine bar where we had the Gundel wines is downstairs from the restaurant bearing that name. The food in the wine bar is very good at half the price.

WRT furmint, I only meant that it was dry in the table wine versions we had. I did see your many TN's yesterday when I was searching to see if there were any existing notes on any of the wines we had. I also saw your note about that great Eszencia you had, which sounded awesome.


Furmit is used for dry and semi-dry wines, as well as for aszu. Muscat Lunel is also used for aszu and aszu essencia. Janos Arvay reportedly makes outstanding aszu from 100% Muscat Lunel, as do some other producers in Tokaj and Tarcal.

Harslevelu (pronounced "harsh level oo") is another white varietal that is used for "lighter" wines that need not age much. Quite yummy, actually. It is sometimes blended with furmint in aszus to give a little more honey and clove notes as well an acid zing.

For more on Hungarian wines, there is a wonderful hardbound, full-color, book called "Terra Benedicta: The Land of Hungarian Wine, Tokaj and Beyond." It was published in 2003 by Ako Publishing.
Fat Boy,

Puttonyos means bucket in Hungarian. A 6 Put wine starts with a large barrel filled with a dry base wine. 6 buckets (Puttonyos) of botrytized fruit from Aszu berries are added to the barrel. Aszu berries are grapes affected by botrytis. The size of a Puttonyos has not always been defined. Top estates would uise larger buckets while lesser estates would use smaller ones.

Today these wines have minimum residual sugar levels. I am estimating here:

3 puttonyos - 60g
4 puttonyos - 90g
5 puttonyos - 120g
6 puttonyos - 150g
aszuessenzia - 180g
essenzia - 400g+

The last Eszencia I had was about 700g of rs. At that level, Eszencia's are the equivalent of an 18 Puttonyos wine. Eszencia does not start with a base wine. It is 100% juice from botrytized Aszu berries.

VM
quote:
Originally posted by haggis:
For more on Hungarian wines, there is a wonderful hardbound, full-color, book called "Terra Benedicta: The Land of Hungarian Wine, Tokaj and Beyond." It was published in 2003 by Ako Publishing.


haggis,

I've looked on Amazon for this book and I've tried to get an ISBN. If you own the book, could you please post the ISBN. I've been striking out in my search.

Thanks in advance
quote:
Originally posted by Altaholic:

haggis,

I've looked on Amazon for this book and I've tried to get an ISBN. If you own the book, could you please post the ISBN. I've been striking out in my search.

Thanks in advance


Yes, you might have a difficult time finding it, but here's the ISBN: 963 210 6628

The full name of the publisher is Ako Kiado.
Good luck!
quote:
Originally posted by steve8:
We just got back the other day from a trip to Budapest where we tasted some of the local wines..


I'm going to have to pick your brain for some restaurant recommendations. We'll be in Budapest for 3 nights in July.

Hopefully, we'll see each other before then.
Altaholic- Haggis gave me a copy of the book he mentioned in this thread and it is absolutely essential reading for anyone into Hungarian wines.

Steve- I was reviewing some of my old Hungarian wine notes and discovered that I tried and earlier vintage of the Huba Szeremley wine you mentioned. Here is a link to my TN on the 2002 Huba Szeremley Rizling Szemelt Badascony. Some background info on the estate is in that post.

VM

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