Thursday, August 30, 2018

Discover Hungarian Wine at Budapest's The Tasting Table

If you are spending any time in Budapest and are slightly interested in Hungarian wine then I strongly recommend that you visit The Tasting Table. This establishment was founded by Gábor & Carolyn Bánfalvi that augments their successful Taste Hungary tour company and showcases the many Central European wines they have discovered while scouring the Hungarian countryside. In addition to wine, the venue also provides a wide range of cheese, charcuterie, jams, craft beer, and the essential Hungarian spirit: palinka.

During a recent trip to Budapest we stopped in to partake in a range of Hungarian wines styles and regions. Our host Tamas started by introducing us to three Brut sparkling wines beyond the more familiar  Törley brand. These wines were well made and delicious showcasing different wine regions and grape varieties. The Pelle Pince Tokaji Pezsgo is made using Furmint grapes grown in the far eastern Takaj region. The Rókusfalvy Birtok Nyerspezsgo is comprised of Pinot Gris and produced just west of Budapest in the white grape growing region of Eytek-Buda. And finally, the Frittmann Gold Brut is produced in the Great Plains in Hungary's largest wine region, Kunsági, where vines share space with the Hortabagy horses. This is a proprietary blend of grapes which add velvety texture to the wine's bready effervescence.

We then moved down the dry Furmint path featuring the Hétszölö Tokaji Furmint 2012 and Fuleky Tokaji Furmint 2014. The historic Tokaj region is most famous for the Tokaji Aszu dessert wines but the volcanic soils can also produce minerally driven and racy dry wines. That was particularly true with the Fuleky whereas the Hétszölö contained significantly more depth and texture for this style.

Tamas then presented a few wines creating excitement such as the Böjt Egri Bikavér 2015 and the Böjt Egri Csillag 2017. The Böjt winery is located in Eger - home to the historic Egri Bikaver once dominated by native grapes such as Kadarka and Kékfrankos but now produced with large percentages of Bordeaux varieties. The Böjt Egri Bikavér provides layers of texture as it is drawn from 25 barrels of differing size and toast. It is also predominately Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) blended with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zweigelt (a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent) and Blauburger (a cross between Blauer Portugieser and Blaufränkisch). The white Böjt Egri Csillag has similar depth but with creamy stone fruit and fresh acids and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), Leányka and Muskotály (Muscat Ottonel). Excellent.

Szekszard is an interesting region located on the left bank of the Danube in southern Hungary just to the northeast of Villany. It is best known for producing full-bodied and spicy red wines and is one of the oldest red-wine-growing areas in Hungary as the Celts first planted grape vines. The Németh János Sygno Szekszardi Bikavér 2015 is an excellent example of a spicy full bodied red as it is a blend of Kékfrankos, Kadarka, Zweigelt, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc.Nicely done.

The highlight of our visit however was the Szaszi Birtok Badacsonyi Keknyelu 2017. This is a very small release from a producer located in one of the micro climates on the hills north of Lake Balaton. Kéknyelű is grown almost exclusively in Badacsony, translates to Blue Stick, and exudes stone fruit -- peaches and apricots -- before finishing with racy minerals and juicy acids. This wine would be so popular in the U.S.; but for now you can only get it at The Tasting Table. Cheers.

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