After spending an enjoyable day at the Budapest International Wine Festival last week, I thought I would share some of my favorite moments.
Arriving in style
If you know Budapest, you know how painfully slow your journey can be through the city. I tend to walk, sometimes it’s the quickest way, but this time I decided to arrive in style by taking the funicular which links at river level from the Chain Bridge to the Buda Castle above. I bet the Ottomans would have loved to have such a transport into the castle as well!
It’s like a big family
If you work long enough in the wine business you will evidently catch up with people who you know, it’s like family, a big family and it gets bigger. My mentor and friend Robert Cey-Bert introduced me to some friends from Serbia and we had a great discussion about the wine regions of “Szerémség” (today Croatia and Serbia). Emperor Probus home town is in the area; it was thanks to him that vine growing got re-established in Pannonia. It is also the home of the Tarcal mountain (also known as Fruska Gora today) and what better way to be acquainted with this region than to try a glass of Tokaji (as Tarcal is also a town within the wine region of Tokaj). One of the wines we happen to sample was a Muscat Lunel 6 puttonyos aszú 2006 from Crown Estate. Both the base wine and the aszú berries come from 100% Muscat Lunel. It’s rather unsual to have base wine and aszú grapes made from this variety, as it’s the least planted.
Olaszrizling step-child or more
You either like it or hate the idea of Olaszrizling as a leading grape variety. Some people look at it as rather inferior, especially as it does not have the same quality as Riesling (no relationship what so ever), on the other side it’s the most planted grape variety in Hungary and it does occasionally shine and makes more than just a coughing wine. While Szekszárd is clearly a red wine region, the Olaszrizling from Bösz Adrián showed the typical characters of the Olaszrizling. Dry, slightly tangy, salty-mineral note with a citrus fruit touch of floralness in the background and in this case a bit of the less protective (oxidative) character. The Kálikövek a new winery from the northern side of Balaton had a blend of Rajnai (Riesling) and Olaszrizling (Welschriesling). The Rezeda from the 2010 vintage was delicious with ripe fruit, notes of maracuja and pineapple followed by some floral notes and a hint of cashew nuts in the background, supported by great acidity.
Meeting the wine personalities
Winemakers have opinions and that’s good. They should interpret their passion from the land on which they live and Mother Nature via their wines. Attila Németh from the NAG winery of the Mátra regions does this. He is not afraid to let the wine be as nature wants it. By this I mean, if the wine has some residual sugar, so let it be. It’s about the balance, not just individual bits and pieces of the wine. József Horváth from the Ráspi Winery at the Sopron wine region shares similar thoughts. He not only runs one of the best restaurants in the country at the Fertö Lake (near the Austrian border) but delivers quality and passion through his wines. The main focus for him is “terroir”; he really wants to know what’s possible in each unit and elevates Kékfrankos and Zweigelt into a different league.
About the Author (Author Profile)
With a bachelor degree in hotel tourism and economics, Kristian became chairman of the universities wine society and was leading it for three years. During that time he founded the Wine Tasting Faculty and published a wine magazine. His first teacher in wine was Dr. Robert Cey-Bert; friend and mentor.
Kristian has also spent time working in London in the wine trade and completed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust diploma, all units at the first attempt. Kristian travels in the world not only for wine but also for food and to explore history and culture. He is a member of the Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy and chairman of the Wine Gastronomy. Besides judging in several European wine competitions such as London, Jerez, he writes extensively for various other websites.
Kristian is currently studying in his second year to become a Master of Wine, the highest and most difficult qualification in the wine industry.
His own blog can be reached under www.kristiankielmayer.com.