Viticulture in the area dates back to the Roman Province of Pannonia. The wine region owes its name to Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe. Often called “the Hungarian Sea”, this lake is a huge body of water, which creates peculiar conditions and affects much of the wine region.
The shores of Balaton are full of volcanic cones, mild hills, special micro-climatic zones, producing unique wines; and a cultivation area, which has been developed and improved over the past millennium. As a result of successive research projects, ever since the early 19th century, Balaton and its region seem to be the place whose geological endowments, favours viticulture, which has been explored in full depth.
The region includes a total of six separate historic sub-regions. They are located along the northern, and the southern shores and west of the body of water. All in all, the sub-regions cover a total of 33 hectares with 11,000 hectares in production. The climate and soil of the Balaton wine region are primarily favourable for white wine production. However, the area is also home to a range of top quality red wines, and considerable volumes of sparkling wine.
The Balatonboglár wine district is situated on the south-western side of the lake.The local produce is light, elegant and harmonic, and also offers some fine red wines in addition to the typical white and sparkling wines.
Balatonboglár – Vincent Prestige Brut 2005 (Garamvári Vineyard)
2005 was especially suitable for producing outstanding sparkling wine with fine acids. This highly dry (brut) sparkling wine is based on a mixture of two Burgundy varieties, pinot noir and chardonnay. The colour is pale, with a medium shade of lemon; and the bubbles are evenly distributed. Its aroma is slightly toasted, flowery, citric and fruity. It is an elegant sparkling wine with harmonic yeast features; refreshing bubbles that are moderately exciting, even in the mouth, and with balanced acids.
'Gesztenyés' (Maroon Orchard) is the name of a vineyard site accommodating a rhine riesling plantation of just four hectares on the southern side of Lake Balaton. 2007 was a special vintage year, and assorted bunches also included berries affected by Botrytis cinera, which makes the first encounter with this rhine Riesling, singular and particular. It is even comparable to riesling varieties from the Alsace, Mosel and Rhine regions. Initially, the must was fermented in steel tanks, and was transferred to oak casks to mature, which yielded a dry wine of a noble character.
The Nagy-Somló wine district owes its name to Somló Hill, a former volcano. Local wines derive unique features from the volcanic soil, basalt and basalt tufa, mixed with Pannonian sand and loess. This has also been a traditional white wine region. Five grape varieties are recommended for growing, including furmint, juhfark, olaszrizling, hárslevelű and tramini. The wines of the region have been praised for their special traits, with somlói furmint and juhfark considered as the wines of wedding nights for centuries.
Classified as a traditional Hungarian variety, furmint is the most valuable grape variety of Somló Hill, (and Tokaj). The young plantation lies close to the top of the hill below the rocks. The wine shows fruitiness, as well as a territorially determined mineral and salty character. It has a long lingering aftertaste, and it leaves you with memories that can last up to several days. Fermented and matured traditionally in casks, this truly unique wine boasts balanced acids.
Juhfark is an ancient Hungarian variety which owes its name to long and cylindrical bunches that resemble a ewe’s tail. This variety has merged with the smallest domestic wine region, Somló Hill. That is where it achieves the best quality. The harvest year was especially favourable to this special variety. The grapes had a high acid content when picked, and the must contains lots of sugar, which produces a fine dry wine with a profound aroma and good longevity. This wine is a blend of juhfark and olaszrizling, two typical grape varieties of this sub-region. You cannot taste anything like it elsewhere.
The wine district in the rolling hills north-west of the Lake Balaton, divides into three areas of breath-taking natural beauty. Its major grape varieties include olaszrizling, szürkebarát, zenit, chardonnay, tramini and muscat.
Zenit is a grape variety, bred in Hungary (1951), which lends itself to producing a wine with a pleasant bouquet, rich aromas; and a rich line of fine acids. It is also frequently affected by Botrytis. Áldozói Zenit Főbor is made of late harvest grapes, from the Áldozó site, a supreme location with registered designation of origin. “Főbor” had been used in Hungary as a name from the period of the Árpád Dynasty of kings up to the 13th century to denote a special sweet wine with sun-dried fruits on the palate made of ripe, late vintage grapes affected with Botrytis. A true speciality.
The Badacsony wine region owes its name to Badacsony, an emblematic hill adjacent to Lake Balaton; and the small town of the same name situated at its foot. Local wines are special, due to the basalt of the eroded cone of a former volcano. Typical varieties are szürkebarát, tramini, muscat ottonel, olaszrizling and kéknyelű. A characteristic of the basalt region, its wines are corpulent and unique.
Badacsony – Szürkebarát 2008(Szeremley Huba)
This fine wine of impressive character is crisp, with a waft of elderberry flower, and nectar of acacia on the nose. Glistening greenish yellow sheen and an excellent vintage on the label. Its mineral, volcanic and basaltic character and its clear-cut acids are a fine example of the power, and specialty of this wine region. Szürkebarát is an emblematic wine of Badacsony, different from other types of szürkebarát worldwide, due to the unique terrain. It is characterised by maturation in barrels, harmonic acids, elegance and a clear-cut taste and scent.
The Balatonfüred-Csopak wine district has vineyards, valleys and hill slopes facing south and south-east, as well as overlooking the lake. The soil here is of particularly good quality. Even though the wine district is located on the north-east side of Balaton, it is best known for its white wines. The varieties used for red wines also provide quality products. As with the rest of the Balaton wine region, typical varieties include, olaszrizling, szürkebarát, Rhine riesling, rizlingszilváni, and chardonnay.
Silenus was a companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. When this wine was made, grapes were harvested from the finest sites of the estate at the same time, and were also fermented and ripened together. It was customary in this wine region in olden times. The wine is a blend of olaszrizling (welsch-riesling), szürkebarát (pinot gris) and sauvignon blanc. It was fermented and matured for eight months in refilled 225 litre barrels. It is a harmonic blend of the past and the present.
Péter Györkös is Hungary’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. Diplomats carry their duties wherever they are ordered by his superior officers, but Péter Györkös has a “personal attachment” to his present assignment: for more than twenty years, he has been monitoring closely the process of European unification and has actively worked for it in his successive positions.