Hungarian wine is a little bit of a Rubik’s cube. Most people’s unfamiliarity with the language, and indeed the geography of Hungary makes getting a handle on the country’s wines and plethora of grape varieties challenging. Yet, like gradually rearranging the cube to complete the a puzzle, the sense of achievement and reward at the end is worth the effort, for Hungary’s dynamic and rapidly improving wine scene offers endless excitement.
Located in Central Europe, Hungary is generally characterised by a continental climate. Summers are hot and dry and winters can be cold and harsh. The West of Hungary borders Austria and generally gives the kind of light bodied whites and reds we might associated with the area. To the East, the historically important region of Tokaj delivers famously sweet wines that have been celebrated around the world for hundreds of years.
The key to unlocking Hungary’s wine complexities is to start with the rarely discussed appellation system. Although France, Italy and Spain have made a science of articulating a territory’s distinctiveness through the production rules and guidelines of an appellation system, Hungary and its wine trade have often shied away from such discussions. In reality however, EU law has sought to standardise wine labelling and Hungary too has created a quality hierarchy in line with what we might expect from more familiar wine producing countries.
Nagy-Somló covers vineyards situated on the three volcanic hills of Ság, Kis-Somló, and of course Somló which frequently overshadows the appellation with its own smaller, more specific production rules. This is a white wine growing area, particularly Furmint, Juhfark, Harslevelu and Chardonnay.