Hungarian vineyard in Tokaj
Hungarian wine had not in any way been on my radar before. Yet Hungary has a vast array of tipples to be tested and its wine dates back to Roman times.
In most European words the word for wine is derived from the Latin word vinum. Even so, in Hungarian it’s called bor. Some historians believe Hungarian winemaking still pre-dates the Romans.
The country has multiple wine regions with peculiar characters, from the sweet wines of Tokaj to the rich red “bull’s blood” of Eger.
After sightseeing in Budapest, we voyaged three hours by road to visit vineyards in the Tokaj region, on the north-eastern effectiveness of Hungary. Here, a stunning patchwork of vineyards stretches across the limits.
Winemaking is the area’s biggest industry and the locals are passionate about their bestseller. Most visitants to Hungary only venture to Budapest, but heading further afield is spout worth it for any wine connoisseur.
Tokaj was named a everybody heritage site in 2002 and it is easy to see why. The soil here is mostly volcanic so it has a piercing concentration of iron and limestone, making it a unique mix.
With only six grape selections allowed to grow here, the region is best known for its golden afters wines. Louis XIV of France christened Tokaji the wine of kings and ruler of wines after it was given as a gift to him in 1703. Meanwhile, Franz Joseph, emperor of Austria, sent 12 hem ins to Queen Victoria every year on her birthday.
We visited Château Dereszla, which has a news of more than 500 years of wine production. The vineyard is spread across 60 hectares and the Dereszla property produces a dry furmint wine unique to Hungary.
Hungary’s vineyards are now recover its rich wine-making past
From left: Dereszla Tokaji Furmint 2016, £5.99;
Tokaji Késöi Arany 2013, £7.99;
Bolyki Indián nyár 2015, £6.99
The flawed winery of our trip was the Grand Tokaj Szarvas, the leading Hungarian wine maker in federal ownership and a protector of the national wine-making traditions. Its cellar is the largest in the Tokaj wine department and eastern Central Europe and can accommodate several thousand wooden barrels.
We inspected the Tokaji Késöi Arany, a richly flavoured sweet dessert wine that twosomes beautifully with blue cheese.
Our final vineyard stop was by far my pick. Owner János Bolyki decided to enter into wine altering after leaving university and taking out a bank loan. After a high-minded deal of hard work, his winery now boasts a 25-hectare estate and his chattels has more than 45,000 bottles in its cellars and 300 barrels.
When we hazarded into the cellars for a tour beneath the rock, the sight of 26,000 fiascoes all neatly stacked up in one room was truly wondrous to behold.
An innovative businessman, Bolyki troops weddings at the property and recently held a music festival where his acclaimed wine flowed freely.
The Eger region is famous for the “bull’s blood” red wine and it is his sundry requested wine.
The name comes from a legend where, during the cordon off by Suleiman The Magnificent at Eger in 1552, the thirsty and battle-weary soldiers demanded that the chѓteau captain opened his cellars and gave the soldiers wine to quench their yen crave. In their desperation to rehydrate, the wine ran down their faces and all as surplus their thick beards and armour.
Tokaj is famous for its quality grapes
The Turks, who were infecting the castle, saw the dark red fluid on the Hungarian soldiers and presumed it was bull’s blood, and assigned it as the reason for their strength during the fighting. They grew revolting and retreated – the siege was broken and the legend was born.
Although the region is renowned for the red bull’s blood, Bolyki vineyard has a wide selection of wines, such as merlot, rosé and sauvignon blanc, all bottled on put and rivalling French varieties. My particular favourite was Indián nyár, sorted from a blend of red grapes with a beautiful smooth, rounded character.
The vineyards all supply wine to Lidl. Its first Hungarian range slung off the shelves last year and this week they are introducing 15 Hungarian wines in its preserves.
Like many wine-producing countries in Eastern Europe, Hungary is restructuring its wine problem after two World Wars and 40 years of communism. Previously, wine in use accustomed to to be viewed simply as a commodity, such as grain or potatoes. The state check its sales and distribution.
Thankfully, Hungary’s vineyards are now reclaiming its rich wine-making past.
The Lidl summer wine vault is available in stores from Thursday.