By Zsófia Balassa
About two hours west of Budapest, lies a small hilly area called Somló. It’s not only famous for its delicious desserts, such as Somlói Galuska, it’s also a perfect hiking spot, and one of the best wine regions in the country. Wine tasting is one of the many activities that really bring families and friends together for a chat and some laughs in Somló.
You can only find white wines in this region (with one notable exception – Syrah from the Kreinbacher winery). The wines are predominantly made from the following white grapes: Hárslevelű, Furmint, Juhfark, Olaszrizling, Tramini and Chardonnay. All these are quality grapes that are meticulously maintained, cultivated with precise care and harvested by hand on the slopes of the former volcano, which is noted for its basalt soil that bequeaths the wine with a firm acid backbone and savoury minerality.
There are many wines to choose from the local wineries, and I had the opportunity to taste four different ones. Imre Györgykovács is one of the best and most known winemakers at Somló. In 2012, he was named the Winemakers’ Winemaker of the Year. The first wine I tasted was white, and made out of Furmint grapes. In addition, it is very flavorsome, really subtle and is perfect for a dinner that one would like to accompany with a light drink. You can really taste the fresh grapes and it has a smell of sweetness, even though it is a dry wine.
The second wine that I tasted was by the Vándor Pince. It is also quite famous and was ranked the 7th best in 2011 in Hungary. This wine is much stronger than the first one, the taste is much sweeter and it has a dustinctive character to it. One can really feel the difference and all the distinctive flavours swirling in the mouth. It would go well with a dinner or just some cheese and fruit.
Sadly, the third wine has a limited availability, and it will not be sold in the future, but if one has the chance to try it out this year, then I would truly recommend it! Kőfejtő wine is as strong as Vándor Pince’s wine. It is sweet and strong, and what really differentiates the two wines is the aroma of this wine. It has a very fruity taste and has an amazing scent to it. In the group that I went wine tasting with, it was the women who really enjoyed this wine.
The final wine that the waitress brought out for us was made by the Fekete Pince, also known as Béla Bácsi’s wine. It was definitely the strongest of them all. At first it did not taste that good, as the flavor was overwhelmingly strong, but after we let it breathe a little bit, it turned out to be quite intense, yet rather tasty. Even the color of the wine was darker than the others.
For all those wine lovers out there, I really do recommend visiting Somló, as it does offer a variety of wines, both strong and weak, and you will certainly find a wine that would fit your taste.