Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Classic Hungarian Wines

My sister lived in Budapest for over a decade so I feel like I should know a little more about Hungarian wines than I do. She brought wine back on her twice yearly visits but we knew less about wine then than we do now so often times we were surprised by whatever may be inside, sometimes it was good and sometimes it was just scary. The grape varieties were usually something that we were unfamiliar with and wine styles seemed to vary quite a bit as well. It was definitely always interesting.

When studying the wines of Hungary, there is always a focus on two of their historically famous wines. The first is the red wine Egri Bikaver or "Bulls Blood" from Eger which is located north east of Lake Balaton. Traditionally, it was a full-bodied wine from the Kekfrankos and Kadarka grapes but newer more modern versions are also being made in a lighter style for both body and tannins and are less expensive in price. These newer versions are often made from the traditional Kekfrankos (aka Blaufrankisch) but with Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the Kadarka.
2008 Egervin Bulls Blood Original Egri Bikaver
Clear, medium purple color. Clean, light developing aromas of black pepper and black fruit. Dry, medium body and alcohol, medium+ tannins and acidity, medium- finish. Structure somewhat overwhelms the low intensity rustic flavor. Acceptable+

The other focus is the sweet wines of Tokaji, a region in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains along the Slovakian border. The three main grapes are Furmint, Harslevelu and Sarga Muscotaly (Muscat Blanc). At harvest, grapes are sorted into three categories, the ones that are botrytis affected are used to make Tokaji Aszu. The level of sweetness is reflected in the puttunyo measurement with 3 as the lowest sugar level and 6 as the highest. The bottle pictured is 5 Puttonyos, which means it must have a minimum of 120 grams per liter of residual sugar.          

2006 Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos
Clear light amber color. Clean, medium developing aromas of honey, citrus blossom, apricot and almond. Sweet, full body, light alcohol, medium+ acidity with a long white raisin and honey finish. Very good/ drink or hold.