Hungarian Wine

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The 22 wine regions of Hungary:
1 Sopron, 2 Nagy-Somló, 3 Zala, 4 Balatonfelvidék, 5 Badacsony,
6 Balatonfüred-Csopak, 7 Balatonboglár, 8 Pannonhalma, 9 Mór, 10 Etyek-Buda,
11 Neszmély, 12 Tolna, 13 Szekszárd, 14 Pécs, 15 Villány,
16 Hajós-Baja, 17 Kunság, 18 Csongrád, 19 Mátra, 20 Eger, 21 Bükk, 22 Tokaj

If there is one wine for which Hungary is famous, it would be the sweet wines of Tokaj. Although they are undeniably delicious, rich and honeyed with a lovely wild high toned acidity, the dry wines of Hungary are even more deserving of attention. The typical international varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc.) are super here, but it is  the indigenous varieties that are worth knowing.

Whites: (also check it out on "That's a Thing?!")

  • Furmint: The dominant grape in Hungary is well known for the production of Tokaji, the Botrytised sweet wine for which Hungary is famous. It also, however, produces stellar dry and sparkling wines
  • Hárslevelu: This grape means linden leaf in Hungarian, which speaks volumes about this delicately floral little grape. It is often blended with Furmint for both dry and Botrytized sweet wines. 
  • Irsai Oliver: A cross of even more obscure indigenous varieties, possesses a muscat-esque panache....and it's just fun to say!
  • Juhfark: No, You Fark! Oh sorry! We got carried away. This little gem, literally means sheeps tail, andproduces the rich, fiery wines from the Somlo region.

Reds: (You can also read this same content on obscurities.)

  • Kadarka: Hungary's most widely planted grape prior to World War II, is sadly a bit of rarity today. We hope to see an upswing in production as traditional winemaking techniques have made a resurgence throughout the country. It posesses the freshness of Beaujolais with a darker fruit and little more tannic bite. 
  • KékfrancosSee Blaufrankisch below. When made well, this wine's naturally high acidity underscores loads of brambly blue and black fruit, and a sweet pepper spice.
  • KékoportóAKA Blauer Portugeiser in Germany and Austria, or simply Portugieser. The name is a bit of a misnomer as it has nothing to do with Port or Portugal, but the Kék prefix, meaning "blue," is definitely indicative of the blue fruits which are indicative of this variety. This variety can produce super high yields, but often at the expense of quality, so keep your eyes peeled for good producers.
Regions of note (you don't need to know all 20 - most of them are not really available stateside just yet).
  • Somlo: This region is known for it's fiery whites. What gives these bold beauties their bluster? Volcanic soil, high winds and an abundance of sunshine. Juhfark thrives here as do Furmint and Harslevelu. Top notch producers from the Somlo include Fekerte Bela, Spiegelberg and Gyorgykovacs Imre.
  • Villany: One of Hungary's largest region offers both a climate (Medierranean) and soil (loess and Limestone) that allows a wide variety of grapes, both indigenous and international, to thrive here. Favorite producers: Malatinszky, Bock, Csanyi, Attilla Gere and Sauska*
  • Eger: Home of the famous"Bull's Blood" (Egri Bikaver). Don't let the harsh moniker fool you - it is not named for the flavor profile, but rather a local legend. Turkish soldiers besieged the town of Eger in the late 16th century, and the Hungarian troops were greatly outnumbered. Despite the odds the Hungarian troops reigned victorious over the Turks, crediting their victory to the local vino that they had mixed with bulls blood. OK, maybe that still is not that appealing. Whatever, the bottom line is that these Kékfrancos driven blends are rich, velvetty and delicious. Best producers: Tibor Gal, Demeter, St Andrea, Monarchia.
  • Tokaj: The wines which made this region famous, are made from botrytised  Furmint, Harslevelu and Yellow Muscat. These wines are storied, honeyed and beautiful. This wine is also making an increasing number of delicious dry white (think turbo charged Pinot Grigio). Top producers: Gizella, Sauska*, Royal Tokaj, Demeter, and Disznókő.

Eager to learn more, check out some of these Hungarian Wine Resources:

*In the interest of full-disclosure, we are personal friends of Sauska. However, we will let the wines (and their numerous Decanter awards) speak for themselves.