In the next couple of days Balaton is expected to experience a heat wave with temperatures well above 30°C, which means not only lots of lemonade, but also ungodly amounts of sparkling and rosé wines will be consumed on the crowded beaches. To give you a handful of relevant suggestions, we put together a personal top 10 rosé list full of vintages of three-star excellence and items produced by schizophrenic Badacsony winemakers.
Zelna Wine Terrace and Vinoteca
The family business of Zelna adds a new flavour to the Balaton wine region – it was only last January that the family started buying up vineyards. Last autumn saw their first harvest, and while the team plans to use the 8-hectare vineyard for producing reds along with the Welschriesling made from the main grape variety of the Balatonfüred-Csopak wine region, everything that was supposed to become red wine in 2014 ended up as rosé. Due to lots of rain, last season was not ideal at all for making red wine, prompting many winemakers around Balaton and all over the country to minimize their losses by turning the grapes for reds into rosé, a trick that has indeed paid off for Zelna. The Merlot-Zweigelt blend is intensively fruity, particularly full and contains a few grams of residual sugar. Ex-cellar price: 1,600 HUF.
The family is still in the process of building and developing the estate, so they cannot welcome guests on-site just yet (we dropped in Képzeld el! wine bar in Budapest to test their vintages), but you’ll definitely be able to meet them at the Balatonfüred Wine Weeks.
We live in a schizophrenic world: the harmony of thoughts, feelings and actions is seemingly dissolving, everyone is against everyone, and no one can escape he constant pressure of choice. This is also a brief summary of the philosophy behind the SKIZO name. In spite of all that, their wines are characterised by harmony and balance – their rosé made from Cabernet sauvignon and Blaufränkisch is free of all extremes with optimal ABV and a particularly fresh taste.
You can visit their winehouse in Badacsonytördemic everyday except Tuesday; calling ahead may be a good idea. SKIZO runs a webshop as well where you can buy their rosé for the great price of 1,300 HUF.
The Nagy-Somló wine region can be found a bit further from Balaton’s north shore, by the western foot of the Bakony Hills, still in Veszprém County, so it definitely qualifies as part of the Balaton wine region. Everyone must have heard of Kreinbacher Winery, but those who are not yet acquainted with their Merlot-Syrah-Blaunfränkisch blend rosé should rectify the situation as soon as possible. Somló produces valuable wines rich in acid and minerals, which means that the Juhfark, Welschriesling, Hárslevelű and Tramini made here is quite special, as are the red grape varieties that are used for making both reds and rosés at Kreinbacher.
Their raspberry and rosehip flavoured rosé blend has 12% ABV and particularly intensive acidity – a bottle costs 1,500 HUF, for example, at Borárum.
On Szent György Hill, “Terroir is all around you” – says the interactive website of Endre Szászi. Naturally, we want more than to encourage you to do a bit of surfing online, as the visitors to the winemaker’s Szent György Hill estate can sample Szászi’s 2013 Cabernet sauvignon rosé, chosen as one of the Three-star Excellent Wines (Három Csillagos Borkiválóság) of the year. Many in the winemaking world say Hungarian rosés are only up to scratch for a year, but there are quite a few exceptions that retain their fresh quality even after two years. If you find upon arrival at the cellar that the above-mentioned item is only available in the 2014 edition, don’t worry. It is a light, good base wine.
You can order the 2014 Szászi Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from the cellar’s webshop for 2,200 HUF.
“Good wine is all in the grapes, a winemaker can only make it worse” – that’s the view the winery of József Pócz represents in terms of winemaking in general. Mr Pócz believes in cuvées, that is wine blends, because “cuvées can really showcase the unique character of a wine cellar, the taste of the winemaker and the excellent qualities of the wine region”. Of course, he makes varietal wines as well from Chardonnay, Merlot or Welschriesling, but he puts the above theory into practice when making rosés. His 2014 item made from Blaufränkisch, Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot is energetically fragrant, light and simple, in a positive sense. It is sold at the winery for 1,200 HUF/bottle.
If you are interested in a visit to and a wine tasting at the Pócz family’s cellar, you can come by any day from May to September. Guests can also dine and stay at their recently built, two-bed apartments, which offer a spectacular view.
Trombitás Winery – Szentbékkálai Club Rosé 2014
The wines of artist-winemaker Tamás Trombitás are regularly featured in our wine top lists. His 2014 Club Rosé is like the Game of Thrones: there’s simply no way you won’t find out about it sooner or later. While most of Hungarian rosés made with selected yeast are somewhere between the tutti-frutti and Turbo chewing gum end of the spectrum, Club Rosé is totally free of artificial and silly fragrances and flavours. Instead it incorporates the taste of fresh and smooth forest berries and a combination of spices.
This is perhaps the best gastro wine on our list because it goes well with everything from pasta with basil and tomato sauce, Balatoni fish soup to piquant chicken wings. If you find yourself near Trombitás Winery or Miakő this summer, pick it up for an ex-cellar price of 1,800-2,000 HUF.
Konyári Wine Cellar
The 2014 rosé of the Konyári team is a smart blend of Merlot, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet franc – this has been a reliable item for years, so no wonder it’s almost always included on various rosé top lists. At the same time, Konyári Wine Cellar is one of the most popular and acclaimed wineries of the South Balaton region – they currently work a 38-hectare vineyard and distribute about 230,000 bottles per year. Their wines can be found all over the country, and are included on the wine lists of all professional Balaton catering establishments. Every component of the wine (acid, body, alcohol) point toward balance, and its fruitiness, spices and their intensity make it an instant favourite.
It can be paired with many dishes, such as light and fresh salads, poultry creations or even chicken paprikas. Take it off the ice at 8°C but wait until it gets a bit warmer before you add soda water. You can get it at Bortársaság for 1,590 HUF.
Just like Trombitás’ rosé, this one deserves praise for being a versatile vintage as well: the Shiraz-Merlot blend made by the Feind team has an almost Siller-like, deep colour, it’s amazingly rich in spicy notes, and thanks to its fullness it’s a great choice to go with duck and goose and even skin-on pork roast according to a self-professed group of experts.
It’s especially good deal at an ex-cellar price for 1,590 HUF. There’s only one problem with it: you cannot stop drinking it.
It’s worth noting that Blaufränkisch is often included in cuvées when it comes to rosé wines, and not even only at Balaton. Nevertheless, many, including Sabar Winery owner-winemaker László Nagy, believe in “roséfying” the grape variety. Blaufränkisch is more of an acid- than tannin-accumulating plant, and it consequently produces fresh, “crisp” wines. Its aroma profile, just like in the case of this Sabar item, contains forest fruity notes.
Badacsony and basalt fans should definitely head to the winery, and pick up this vintage because its 1,500 HUF ex-cellar price makes it a BEST BUY deal in terms of price/value ratio.
It seems like those who want to cross this exquisite North Balaton rosé off their list have to travel all the way to Paloznak, to one of the highest spots in the village where Homola Wine Terrace has recently opened its gates, awaiting visitors with a wonderful panorama, amid lush vineyards. Based on these characteristics, it’s not surprising at all that owner Szabolcs Homola and winemaker Attila Homonna have picked Blaufränkisch to go into their rosé wines.
Homola’s rosé is one of the fuller, more slowly developing items of the genre, which beats many of the mediocre red Cabernet wannabes produced in the area by a mile. That is, of course, if you pair it with a saucy, crisp duck roast baked slowly at 90°C, served with saffron infused squash stew. And while we’re on the subject of saffron, Sáfránkert, the Homola brand’s new gourmet restaurant, also is Paloznak, is worth visiting too.
The ex-cellar (ex-terrace) price of this wine is in the region of 2,000 HUF.