Hungarian Wine
Knowledge Hub

Welcome to the The Wines of Hungary Knowledge Hub!

At Wines of Hungary, it is our job to support the producers and support the UK wine professionals and trade. Contact us at if you need advice our guidance, if you are hosting a tasting or wish to review a selection. Based permanently in London, we work closely with Hungarian wineries who want to establish relationships with importers, and we help to facilitate those goals. Wines of Hungary creates the link between Hungarian and the UK trade and we inform you about the latest developments in Hungarian wine.

If you’re looking for wines that really have a sense of place, are authentic and are doing great things with indigenous varieties then it’s time to discover Hungarian wines.

Cabernet Franc’s New Frontier
by Peter McCombie MW

Villány Cabernet Franc has traditionally enjoyed elite rather than mainstream success. Too long seen as a bit player, today it seems to be having a moment. Aficionados have always appreciated the herbaceous expressions that Loire Valley offers and the grape flourishes on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, though largely ‘hidden’ in blends. More recently the grape has been finding favour in Tuscany and in cooler parts of North America and New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay.

Cabernet Franc also performs well in Hungary’s Villány. Following a visit in 2000 Michael Broadbent MW wrote that ‘Cabernet Franc has found its natural home in Villány.” Villány has over 2150 hours of sunshine annually. The soil is primarily limestone covered with layers of clay and loess, rich in lime and calcium deposits.

Reflecting the importance of Cabernet Franc in Villány, the PDO includes the category Villány Franc and there is an annual Franc & Franc Forum held in Villány in November devoted to the Cabernet Franc grape.

The quality and character of Cabernet Franc from Villany seems worth investigating for UK buyers. The challenge is recognition.
But Villany is about to change that. Some Villány growers, including Heumann and Bock, are already working in the UK, with several others expecting to seal distribution deals soon. Meanwhile, a generic campaign is planned for 2018. Expect to find some Villany Franc on the shelves soon.

Why Drink Hungary? How the winemakers see it…

In recent discussions with Hungarian winemakers and estate owners from three different regions: Eger, Villány and Tokaj about the wines of Hungary their regions, and marketing Hungarian wine. Around the table were Karoly Barta, owner and Vivien Újvári winemaker, of the Barta Winery in Tokaj; Andrea Gere of the Gere Winery, Erhard Heumann of Heumann Winery and Laszlo Romsics of Csanyi Winery from Villány and Nimrod Kovacs of the Nimrod Kovacs winery and Gyorgy Lorincz of St Andrea both from Eger.

I asked what makes Hungarian wine unique. Nimrod Kovacs laughingly replied, ‘This is the $64K question!’ With so much variety, how can you specify what makes a country’s wine unique?’ For him the abundance of choice is what makes Hungarian wines so interesting.

Andrea Gere pointed out that it is impossible to define one Hungarian wine style as there are twenty-two very different regions, each with their own character, while Laszlo Romsics described Hungarian wines as ‘colourful’ and varied. Vivien Újvári, as a winemaker, focused on the unique combination of the volcanic soils which give fuller-bodied wines, rich in mineral, a warm climate which benefits the indigenous white varieties with their late ripening, distinctive, aromatic fruit and floral scents. Erhard homed in on the potential of Hungary’s indigenous varieties and how different regions are establishing their regional styles.


2017 Harvest in Hungary

Wine, for all its glamour, is a direct agricultural product. Winemakers have one chance a year to get it right, which depends on what the climate and weather throw at the grapes growing in a specific patch of soil. One summer hailstorm or frost once the buds have opened and a whole year of potential is destroyed, the story for many areas of Western Europe in 2017. Late frosts, heatwaves and hailstorms taking their toll mean both Italy and France are reporting the smallest harvest in decades, while crop losses have reached 40-60% in parts of Spain.

This may be a great opportunity for Hungary. Producers across the country are excited by the sheer quality of this year’s grapes. In Villány, Erhard Heumann avoided frost damage by just half a degree Celsius, but enjoyed perfect weather for the rest of the growing season. A warm summer brought just enough rain… Read More...

Knock On Wood – Hungarian Oak
by Caroline Gilby MW

It takes at least a century to grow an oak tree from acorn to harvest so research on terroir, growing conditions and species is a huge challenge. In addition, the complexities of oak flavour compounds and how they are influenced by seasoning and cooperage is a complex field, never mind getting to grips with the complexities of how this all interacts with each individual wine.

Today Hungary is increasingly being recognised as a great place to source oak with barrels appearing in Burgundy and top Tuscan names like Antinori’s Tignanello, but there’s more to it than just a compromise between expensive French oak and the more obvious coconut aromas of American oak.

Hungary has very strict laws on how its forests are managed, dating back to an order from King Zsigmond in 1456. Today any trees felled must be replanted with the ultimate of increasing the area of forest in Hungary from the current 21% to 27%. I suspect wine drinkers, and perhaps winemakers too, often overlook the huge complexities behind those all-important barrels, but it is also good to see that Hungary is planning for a sustainable future. Read More...

A Touch of Blue
by Caroline Gilby MW

Central Europe’s most important red grape grows under many guises. Kékfrankos, Blaufränkisch, Frankovka, Franconia, Lemberger, Modra Frankinja, Burgund Mare to name a few. Many of its names include the word “blue” in translation (Blau, Kék and Modra) for its blue-toned skins, while the story goes that back in the Middle Ages better grape varieties were called “Frankisch” to show their superiority over the less well-regarded “Heunisch” varieties, nothing to do with any French connection.

The assumption is that Blaufränkisch arose as a natural cross, so researchers looked at historical records to establish where both parents would have been present. Both possibly existed together in the 18th century and are definitely mentioned in early 19th century writings as grown in Lower Styria. At that time, there was little planting of red grape varieties in what is modern Austria, so the conclusion is that Blaufränkisch was born in Lower Styria in today’s Slovenia (Old Hungary, pre 1920., WW1). Read More...

by Lilla O’Connor-Varga

During the last few days of May, after a busy London Wine Fair a small team of Experts from the UK set out on a journey to study Hungarian wine.

With the help of seven Hungarian wineries and the Hungarian Tourism Agency, Wines of Hungary arranged to take Oz Clarke, Anthony Rose, Caroline Gilby MW, Sebastian Payne MW, Peter McCombie MW and a prestigious team of UK experts and buyers – including a team from the Ritz and Wanderlust wines – to see three regions. We began our journey with a few challenges; remember the British Airways meltdown at Heathrow? In spite of being caught right in the middle of that, we somehow flew through all these difficulties unscathed and arrived in Hungary ready to learn about Eger, Tokaj and Villány Regions. What matters most are the lasting impressions you find during a wine tour, so we recorded some memories to capture the views of our guests. As you will see, we were not hungry in Hungary! #DrinkHungary

At Wines of Hungary we find it very important that people meet the terroir. It is our aim to run these tours regularly and (re)connect most major UK wine professionals with the new face of Hungarian wines.

Joe Fattorini Strips Furmint
By Joe Fattorini

What do you suggest to the cautious who want to play safe? The dinner host who wants to impress? The wine adventurer starting out? The answer is usually “dry Furmint”.

Hungary and I didn’t get off to a promising start. It was in 1992 in a seedy restaurant in Budapest. A young woman offered a striptease. We paid her to keep her clothes on. She was doing what she felt she had to in a country finding its feet, building its economy, restoring its national pride.
I hope she’s proud of what her country has become today. And the wine that has become Hungary’s calling card. Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint introduces people to the style. But Kovacs Nimrod Dry Furmint shows a complexity and poise comparable with the world’s great whites. And Somloi Apatsagi Pince Furmint reveals the grape’s ability to speak of its volcanic terroir. Try these three… and you’re hooked.

A Success Story
by Lilla O’Connor-Varga

Rocking on the way home to London after a very successful Hungarian tasting held to the Manchester Wine Society.

I am contemplating the re-birth of Hungarian wines in the UK. Trying to summarise this is so difficult, as after 3 years of doing the groundwork, we seem to finally have a breakthrough. Several breakthroughs, in fact! Wines of Hungary was formed in 2014 by me, Lilla O’Connor-Varga. Many of you who read this newsletter will know me personally, and hopefully tried all of our wines. For many others, we are already working together. I could never have imagined that over the past years I would have made so many good friends in the wine industry. I am not going to name people as I don’t want to miss anybody out. You are all incredibly important to me.
We were fortunate to pick the most incredible growers to create a portfolio and  put in some hard and persistent work building up the brands on the UK market, creating opportunities for these wineries, linking them with importers. Read More...

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