A Quick Look at Hungarian Dry Whites
By Kerry Winslow
Hungary is a wine region on the rise (again) and the dry white wines are continuing to show great promise with local grapes like Furmint and Harslevelu making some fine examples, plus others. I recently tasted a flight of these exciting wines from a selection of offerings from Blue Danube Imports, a company committed to the regions between the Balkans and eastern Europe, including Croatia and Austria as well as Hungary. Here are my top picks to look for if you are interested in something wildly different than the mainstream.
Hungarian Dry Whites
2011 Bodrog Bormuhely, dry Tokaji Furmint, Lapis Vineyard, Hungary.
This Hunarian dry white from the famed Tokaji region is a lovely single vineyard wine that is like Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne) and an ultra crisp Chablis with mineral essence and sharp clean citrus. The Bodrog Bormuhely Lapis Vineyard Tokaji Furmint is a crisp and lean light bodied white that also reminds me of Basque whites with bright and tart lime, chalky mineral, wet stone and a hint of pear. This direct and brisky refreshing Furmint is tangy and pleasing from start to finish, it has loads of juicy acidity, subtle fruitiness and mouth watering saline, this is a wonderful picnic wine and would be great with oysters. Bodrog Bormuhely is a quality producer, be sure to search them out, especially this Lapis Vineyard Tokaji Furmint, it sure beats all those generic Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand for unique character and interest. Imported by Blue Danube Imports, Los Altos, California.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2011 Tokaj Nobilis, Tokaji Harslevelu “Hars” Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary.
This beautiful and detailed white wine from Hungary’s historic Tokaj-Hegyalja region is a hand crafted artisan wine from a tiny estate and made by Sarolta Bardos. The Harslevelu grape producers a medium bodied dry white that reminds me certainly of quality Marsanne from the Northern Rhone with a lanolin and bees wax texture and subtle mineral essence to go along with apple and white peach notes. Sarolta planted her 6 hectars of vines in 1999 from carefully selected cuttings and planted on ideal soils and her dedication and drive shine through in her wines, I also loved her Furmint as well, but it was this Hars that really got my attention. The 2011 Hars shows hints of white blossoms, spicy mineral oil, honey comb and stone fruits to go along with the core of apple, pear and peach fruit with an underlying citrus cut. Flashes of herbs and cream come through as well in this nicely balanced and made white. Imported by Blue Danube Imports, Los Altos, California.
($16 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Szoke Matyas es Zoltan, Zold Veltelini (Gruner Veltliner) Matra, Hungary.
Szoke’s Gruner Veltliner is a quality example of delightful Hungarian dry white wine, which has really come a long way in recent years and looks to be finally on solid footing these days with many small artisan producers getting their wines into many important markets, where as not too long ago we only saw generic co-op wines or top sweet wines. Gruner Veltliner, known as Zold Veltelini in Hungary seems a bit unique, but you can see it is only natural that this mostly Austrian grape found it’s way to Hungary across it’s neighbors border, and because of the very different terroir it gives it’s own character here. The 2012 Szoke Zold Veltelini Matra is zesty fresh with clarity and focused favors that include lemon/lime, pear and white plum with almond oil, lime flower and under ripe apple plus mineral and crushed stones. Everything pays out in a vibrant array of details and finishes very dry and crisp, this is a nice zippy white. Imported by Blue Danube Imports, Los Altos, California.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
Thanks to Blue Danube for showing me these exotic wines!