White grapes may dominate the vineyards of Lake Balaton on both shores, but reds are still very much present across the local wine regions. Here’s where to find the great red wines of Balaton.
The south shore of Lake Balaton produces great reds. The terroir here is similar to other red-wine producing wine regions around Hungary, with the added bonus of cool air from the forests of Somogy. There’s a vast array of varieties here, from Syrah and Kékfrankos, to rarities such as Malbec.
What to taste
The area around Balatonboglár and Balatonlelle has excellent vineyards, most notably at Jánoshegy, Kishegy and Kokas-dűlő.
Browse the selection of winemaker Géza Légli, Konyári Wine Cellar, Bujdosó Winery, Garamvári Vineyard and Pócz Winery for great red vintages, from lighter to more full-bodied ones. The most popular are the Loliense by Konyári, the Ibituba by Bujdosó and the two Cabernets by the Konyári family. Lesser-known but just as great are the wines from the Buzássy and Hujber families.
Red varieties used to be more widespread on the north shore before a huge outbreak of phylloxera. Although nowadays whites rule this side of the lake, reds are still present, even if complemented by many rosés.
What to taste
The microclimate of the area near Tihany’s Lake Belső are especially beneficial for reds. No wonder that many of the best examples come from these vineyards: the Kékfrankos by the Homola Winery, the Merlot by Figula, and the Magma Kékfrankos from Szent Donát are among the great wines, just like Jásdi’s Ranolder red.
Heading towards the Káli Basin, the Liszkay Estate in Monoszló is definitely worth a visit: their vineyards at Pangyér-dülő show outstanding promise, delivering high-quality Cabernet Francs vintage after vintage.
The Pálffy family in Köveskál makes great Syrah. Csobánc a stone’s throw away is the home of Villa Tolnay, a winery that makes exciting wines of the Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir varieties.
To taste the reds of Badacsony, plump for Péter Váli’s Pinot Noir. If you’re near Szent György-hegy, try the hill’s legendary red Tabunello by Csaba Török, created with the Sangiovese variety.
And last, but not least, Kreinbacher Winery’s red created from Syrah is a very characteristic, divisive wine, yet every vintage sells out very quickly – and that says it all.