Having been forearmed with the knowledge of Hungary’s twenty-two wine regions, it was always on our radar to seek out at least some of these areas and test out the wines for ourselves.
Having grown up with a father who enjoyed wine-making himself, I had been taught the virtues of being open minded when it came to wine. Somewhere along the years that transformed into me liking just one wine, Chardonnay! Sorry Dad. That’s not to say I won’t try others, but I always seem to come back to the Chardonnay.
However in a country where the wine varieties have different, unheard of, let alone unpronounceable wine names, one must take this challenge head-on. So that’s what we set out to do, and just as well because the Hungarian Chardonnay’s just don’t cut the mustard.
If you are taking a trip to Hungary and are partial to some wine tasting yourself, then you can pick and choose the regions you might like to visit. Below is a summary of what each region offers and a sneak preview of the conditions these grapes are grown in.
Fiery mountains, fiery hills. It has an area of 1500 ha. Protected by the Bakony, tempered by the Balaton, it has an average annual temperature of 11 C, 600-650 mm annual rainfall and 1950 hours of sunshine. Basalt rocks and soils formed on Pannonian sediments. Includes Badacsony, Szent-Gyorgy Mountain, Csobanc, Gulacs. Well ageing aromatic white wines with high minerality.
Includes Keszthely Mountain and Kali basin. It has an area of 1600 ha. Climate is balanced, average annual temperature is 11 C and average rainfall is 650 mm with 2000 hours of sunshine. Bedrock is limestone on the West (Cserszeg area) and brown earth with friable basalt on the East, therefore the wines have diverse characters. Mostly producing white wines and this is the home of Cserszegi fuszeres.
Situated in the Southern coast of Balaton from Balatonbereny to Balatonszabadi, it is 3300 ha in area. Even climate, typically with long Indian summer, average annual temperature is 11 C, average rainfall is 650 mm, with 2000 hours of sunshine. Soil type is deep earth formed on marine sediment with loess coverage at many sites. Variable types of aromatic white and red wines are produced, from very light to full-bodied.
From Zanka to Balaton-almadi and Kenese. It has an area of 2200 ha and the climate is warm due to the protective effect of the Bakony, average annual temperature is 11.5 C, 2050 hours of sunshine, volume of annual rainfall is high, 700mm.
Situated in the slopes of the mountain Bukk, the once famous Miskolc wine region. It has an area of 1000 ha, protected by the mountains of Bukk, average temperature is 10 C, and average annual rainfall is 500 mm with a lot of sunshine, 1950-2000 hours yearly. The soil type of the wine region is brown earth formed on rhyolite tuff. The region typically produces white grapes for selling to other wine regions.
Sunny wine region. It has an area of 1420 ha. Its climate is warm, continental, there is a high risk of winter and spring frosts, averaging temperature is 11.8 C, 450-500 mm precipitation, 2200 hours of sunshine, droughts. Soil types are moving sandy loess and alluvial soil on the North, and sand and moving sand on the South. Sandy soils are immune to filoxera. Light white wines and Kadarka are produced.
Home of Bikaver (Bull’s Blood). It has an area of 5500 ha and is surrounded by the mountains of Matra and Bukk. Average annual temperature is 10.5 C, average rainfall is 600 mm and average sunshine hours are 1980. Diverse bedrock, mostly rhyolite and rhyolite tuff, which is the most suitable for carving cellars into it. There is andesite in Meszhegy and rick limestone in Nagy Eged. White wines are produced in Deleno area and red wines in the Eger area. Main wines are Bikaver and Egri Csillag.
Eger’s old town will impress even the most discerning of tourist with its Castle and quant old town. Make sure to include a visit out to the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman, not just for wine sampling, which is fabulous, but to look at the unique bars dug into the stone walls, and of course to enjoy some traditional Hungarian cuisine for lunch or dinner.
Vineyard of Budapest. It has an area of 1660 ha. Its climate is cold, windy, average annual temperature is 9.5 – 10.5 C, annual rainfall is 650-680 mm, soils are mostly calcareous brown earth formed on limestone bedrock. Most of the raw wine for champagne making is produced in this region.
Friendly winemakers. It has an area of 2050 ha. Climate is warm, continental; average annual temperature is 11-12 C, average rainfall is 460-500 mm, with 2100 hours of sunshine. Soils are mainly loess covered with layers of moving sand of different thickness. Most typical wines are Hajosi Kadarka and Kekfrankos.
One third of the country’s vineyards. It has an area of 22,700 ha. It has a continental climate, average temperature on the North (Jaszsag) is 10 C and 12 C on the South (Bacska), rainfall is low, 400-500 mm annually, 2000-2200 hours of sunshine. Main soil type is calcerous sand, partly earth and alluvial soils, that warm up quickly and does not hold water. Mostly white wines are produced: Sarfeher, Ezerjo, Israi Oliver, Cserszegi fuszeres, Olaszrizling and Red Kadarka.
Gyongyos, Abasar, Nagyrede, Visonta, Gyongyostarjan. It has an area of 6250 ha. It has a continental climate with hot summer and cold winter, but the region is protected from spring and autumn frosts by the mountains of Matra. Average annual temperature is 10.5 C, average rainfall is 550 mm, with 1950 hours of sunshine. Soils on the South slopes of the Matra are rich in volcanic content. Clear, fresh, full bodied white wines and diverse red wines are produced.
Home of Ezerjo. It has an area of 670 ha. Its climate is windy, average annual temperature is 10 C, winter is milk, summer is sunny, annual rainfall is 600-650 mm. Highly calcerous clay loess soil formed on loess and sand bedrocks. Main variety is Ezorjo.
The mills of this region looks like “God’s forgotten hat” – as a famous Hungarian poet described. It has an area of 600 ha, and includes the regions Somlo, Sag and Kis-Somlo. It has a temperature climate, average annual temperature is 10 C and it is windy with 600-750 mm annual rainfall and 1950 hours of sunshine. Varied soil types were formed on Pannonian sediments with fragmentary basalt. It’s most famous wine is Juhfark, the “wine of wedding nights”.
Also called as the “pearl of Danube”. It has an area of 1600 ha. Balanced climate, the average annual temperature is 10 C, rainfall is 550-600 mm, there are 1950 hours of sunshine and the proximity of the Danube has a beneficial impact. Soils are marl on the West, linestone, dolomite, sandstone and brown earth on the East part of the region. Gives fresh, aromatic, mostly white wines.
Anno Domini 966. It has an area of 660 ha. Climate is balanced, the average annual temperature is 10 C, and average rainfall is 550-650 mm, with 1950 hours of sunshine. The soil is Pannonian sedimentary sand, sandy clay, clay, and earth formed on these. Elegant white wines are produced with fine acids and also Pinot noir.
Home of Cifrandli. It has an area of 780 ha, spreads from Dunaszeksco to Szigetvar on the slopes of Baranyai hills and Mecsek Mountain. Climate is sub-Mediterranean with mild winter and warm summer and average annual temperature is 11 C. Long, undisturbed growing season, annual rainfall around 660-700mm. Soils are loess on the East, clayey earth to the West and werfen schist on the West. The famous native variety cirfandli is grown here. The region gives fresh white wines and full bodies red wines.
Pecs is not only a fabulous place to sample wines, but it has lots of reasons to visit showcasing 17 visitor attractions including exhibitions, art galleries, factories, museums, and much more.
“Blaufrankischland”. It has an area of 1920 ha. Its climate is windy and it rains a lot, although the annual rainfall is only 600-700 mm, and there are 1950 hours of sunshine. The best parcels are the ones facing the lake Ferto. The main variety is Kekfrankos.
The Hungarian Burgundy. It has an area of 2380 ha. It has a warm balanced climate with Atlantic, Mediterranean and continental impacts. There are 2050 hours of sunshine, 600 mm of rainfall, 11.5 C average temperature, hot, sunny summers and long, warm fall. There are thick soils, brown earth formed on 20-4- metre deep highly calcerous loess base. Famous wine types are Kadarka, Kekfrankos and Bikaver.
Vinum Regnum Rex Vinorum. The number one wine region in Hungary. World’s leading natural sweet wine producer region. It has an area of 5900 ha. There is a continental climate, hot summer and cold winter, average temperature is between 9.5 and 10.5 C, 2000 hours of sunshine and a rainfall of 530 mm. The area has a special microclimate that allows the process of shrinkage of grapes caused by a special type of fngi, the so-called “noble rot”, and the preparation of aszu wines from these grapes. Soils are mostly clay soils formed on rhyolite, rhyolite tuff and andesite rocks, with loess coverage on the South part, and highly variable geological patterns. The region became world famous in the 18th centure. Main wine types are Furmint, Harslevelu, Sargamuskotaly, Szamorodni, Aszu and Esszencia.
The forgotten wine region. It has an area of 2500 ha. Climate is balanced, average annual temperature is 11.5 C, average rainfall is 600-650 mm, with 2000 hours of sunshine. Most of the vineyards are in Tolna country, some are in Baranya and Fejer counties. Mostly fresh white wines and produced, there are some large vineyards and many small ones.
The Hungarian Bordeaux. It has an area of 2800 ha. There is a Mediterranean effect on climate, hot summer and mild winter, long growing season, hight risk of hail, 700-750 mm annual rainfall. Mostly red wines are produced in Villany area and white wines in Siklos area. Villanyi Franc is the most popular wine.
The Cute Wine Bars in Villany
Hilly land. It has an area of 1600 ha. Climate is cool, with 9.5C average annual temperatures, rainy (700-800 mm) and free from extremities. Characteristic terrain and North-South oriented steep-sided highlands, clayey soil, hard to cultivate. Intense white wines with pronounced acid structure. Fragmented vineyards and small cellars.
If you like wine…
Hungary will have plenty in store for you. Just a word of caution however. As an avid Chardonnay connoisseur I was expecting my favourite tipple to taste somewhat familiar. It wasn’t. I had to move onto a different variety and thankfully found one to my pallet.
So there you have it, 22 ‘other’ reasons to visit Hungary.
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