Hungary's unique white wines - a guest ramble by Molly Hovorka

For a little while now the Wine Rambler has been interested in wine from Hungary and Eastern Europe and we have been lucky enough to taste a few original and unusual wines from this often overlooked part of the wine world. After sharing our latest adventure, a Hungarian Cabernet Franc, on Twitter, we realised that we were not alone with this interest. Molly Hovorka, for instance contacted us with suggestions on which Hungarian wines and producers to explore further. In particular, she encouraged us to look into the indigenous varieties of Hungary if we wanted to find a few unusual surprises. If you too are curious to explore wines a little out of the ordinary, you may want to read what she has to say on:

Hungary's unique white wines, by Molly Hovorka

Ask most non-Hungarians what they think of Hungarian wine and you will likely be met with one of four reactions:

  • A blank stare
  • A drunken tale of visiting Eger's 200+ cellar row while backpacking
  • A fond memory of tasting a Tokaji Aszu dessert wine
  • A grimace at the thought of Hungarian Bull's Blood supermarket plonk

Hungarian wine cellar, by Molly Hovorka

Takler, Cabernet Franc Szekszárd, 2006

Another venture into Eastern Europe, and into a grape that I like more and more: Cabernet Franc.

Very dark red, a little cloudy (unfiltered, probably), with a purplish edge. Smells of stewed vegetables, beetroot, ripe red peppers, but meaty at the same time. In the mouth, it brings rather hard-edged cassis and tar at first, Cabernet Sauvignon-style, but with more exposure to air, the sweeter and more savoury vegetable flavours take over. While the ripe fruit and oak flavours lean toward the international style, the vegetables give it character and spice.

Tamás Pince, Chardonnay, 2007

Before turning to this Hungarian Chardonnay, I feel I have to reveal the source behind my new interest in eastern European wines such as this:

Manfred Klimek a.k.a. Captain Cork is, to me, the freshest and most entertaining voice among German language wine journalists. I particularly enjoy his reports on winegrowers and -makers behind what used to be the iron curtain, because they bring out the passion and personality of individualists who have often not yet mastered winemaker marketing-speak. Highly recommended, 'nuff said.

Back to the Chard, then, and a weird little number it is:

Pale gold, with a hint of onion skin brown. Unusual.

Smells of brown sugar and fried banana, with a salty freshness at the same time. Even more unusual.