Summer is slowly seeping into wine cellars all over Balaton, so our wine expert put together a list of 10+1 items perfect for the season. The selection includes wines from Balaton’s big winemaker dynasties, several promising, up-and-coming wineries, and keen experimenters. Now all you need is a wine terrace where you can relax and sip these excellent vintages.
A'Capella Winery – Iniciálé 2013
János Dunai and his wife got involved in winemaking in the Badacsony wine region in 2009. Their cellar is situated in Ábrahámhegy, and their vineyard can be found on nearby Szilvádi slope. The name of their estate (a capella is a choral piece performed without musical accompaniment) was inspired by both János’ love for music and the fact that he works as a sound engineer. In the long run, he wants to make a living in Ábrahámhegy, and judging by the excellent wines he produces, we think he’s got a good chance.
Iniciálé is a prime category item, a blend made of Rheinriesling and Welschriesling. It’s a smooth wine with pleasant acidity; due to the small barrel aging process, the flavor almost has a buttery quality. Pick up a couple of bottles at the cellar, and let them mature a bit more at home – you won’t regret it.
Price: 2,990 forints (Prestigebor.hu)
Konyári Wine Cellar
The Konyári team needs no introduction, their winery is a real blockbuster on the south shore: they currently work 38 hectares, releasing about 230,000 bottles to the market every year. Their vineyards on the hills south of Balatonlelle have exceptional properties: they are located at an elevation of 150-250 meters, and have loessy soil with a high lime content, mixed in places with stone and clay. If there’s enough sunshine, the area can’t yield bad wines.
Páva is one of the absolute best items of the cellar: it comes from Kishegy slope, and it comprises Cabernet franc and Cabernet sauvignon. The grapes are picked over several times before they are made into wine, which is matured in small barriq barrels for 14 months, and for another two years in the bottle. What more is there to say: it’s elegance in liquid form.
Price: 12,000 forints (Bortársaság)
In line with the traditions of the winemaking area, the Laposa family only produces white wines, about 80,000 bottles a year. Their selection includes Welschriesling, Rheinriesling, Pinot gris, Kéknyelű, Juhfark, and Furmint. The winner of our recent wine test was their Welschriesling named Laposa Friss. Similarly to the above-mentioned Konyári family, the Laposas are also a well-established winemaker clan; every family members plays an important role in the business.
4 Hegy is one of the most well-known premium wines of the Laposa family: it incorporates Welschrieslings from four monadnocks, namely Badacsony, Szent György Hill, Csobánc, and Somló. It has an intensive aroma that’s full of fruit and has subtle hints of the growing area's basalty, salty character.
Price: 2,750 forints (Bazaltbor.hu)
Szatmári Family Winery – Vulcanus 2012
Szatmári Family Winery has operated on the southern slope of Szigliget, on Antal Hill below the Castle since 2003. Currently working a total of four hectares, the family is in the process of planting five more hectares with the traditional grape varieties of the wine region. The special variety Vulcanus is mainly associated with the Szatmáris: bred from Pinot gris and Budai zöld, this grape is a suitable ingredient for grand wines.
This 2012 item is a great example. The fragrance feels salty and stony, and the taste is all about the minerals. It’s a full wine that could go nicely with a more substantial roast.
Price: 2,400 forints (Selection.hu)
Légli Winery was created by Ottó Légli in 1989 on the foundations of a piece of land he inherited from the family. Originally covering an area of half a hectare, the estate now comprises 33 hectares. Found at an elevation between 160-250 meters, the vineyards are located in the hillside villages of Balatonboglár, Szőlősgyörök, and Gyugy. Ottó Légli knows how to bring out the full potential of the loess soil, which has a high content of lime and clay, usually making flavorful, harmonious vintages. The Légli dynasty is at least as famous in the winemaking world as the Konyáris, but the youngest son of the family is busy doing his own thing: operating Kislaki Wine Garden and Kislaki Guesthouses.
The premium Rheinriesling selection of Légli Winery is the result of a late harvest. The golden liquid has intensive acidity and understated hints of the barrel. This is perhaps one of the most excellent Rheinrieslings of Hungary.
Price: 2,950 forints (Bortársaság)
Orbán Cellar – Furmint 2015
Gergő Orbán has created many white wines with an ABV of about 17%. Of course, Badacsony is the region of fiery, acidic, and full items, but these days many producers are gravitating towards a lighter style.
It seems like Gergő Orbán has jumped on the bandwagon as well: his latest Furmint and Chardonnay have a relatively low alcohol degree. As they say, they are "easy-drinking" summer wines.
Price: 1,590 forints (Total-Wine.hu)
Szent Donát Manor
The cornerstone of the cellar was laid in 2001, but the family’s connection to grapes and wine goes back much longer than that. The paternal ancestors have lived in Csopak for almost 200 years, while the family of the mother originated in the Káli Basin. The estate covers over 10 hectares, with vineyards situated in Csopak, Tihany, the Káli Basin, and Fekete Hill. However, every step of the winemaking process takes place at the Csopak base where a total of about 25,000-30,000 bottles are produced each year. One of their wines has recently been included on the wine list of a Belgian restaurant with three Michelin stars.
The 2014 Furmint of Szent Donát has a low alcohol degree; it’s an intensively acidic wine with salty aftertastes, tuned especially for summer.
Price: 2,380 forints (Sidewayz Borkereskedés)
2HA Vineyard and Wine Cellar
Building his estate on Szent György Hill, Csaba Török is not a typical winemaker of the region. Of the white varieties, he cultivates Pinot gris and Welschriesling, both of which are typical of the growing area (on paper), but Csaba has been reinterpreting local traditions since the beginning, making wines from Merlot, Shiraz, and Sangiovese grosso (these grapes are not approved as belonging to the region in the Hungarian wine law codified by the European Union).
Csaba’s 2013 Shiraz was matured in a small oak barrel for 12 months. It’s an elegant wine with earthy aromas as well as hints of pepper and cherry.
Price: 7,990 forints (Radovin Borkereskedés)
Endre Tornai, the founder of the winery, began growing grapes and making wines on an area of about 4,000 square meters. At present, the estate measures 54 hectares, and the 70-year-old cellar, which is an influential establishment of Somló Hill, is run by the third generation.
Apátsági furmint has a rich composition, and features all the positive characteristics of the vintage 2012. In addition to over-ripe notes in the fragrance, the wine’s aroma profile is dominated by the spices of the wooden barrel, minerals, and honey. It has a characteristics, ripe taste typical of the variety.
Price: 5,500 forints (Borarum.hu)
Owner Robert Gilvesy returned to the ancient slopes of Szent György Hill and Badacsony from Canada to focus on cultivating the traditional varieties of the wine region. Using both traditional and cutting-edge technology, his goal is “to create fine handcrafted wines”. The grapes come from a vineyard planted about 50 years ago, and have been ripened in oak barrels from Zemplén.
It’s a complex, enjoyable wine with fruity and spicy notes detectable in both the fragrance and the flavor.
Price: 3,850 forints (Bortársaság)
The story of the Istvándy family dates back to the beginning of the 1800s. Viticulture and winemaking have always been the most important element of the family’s livelihood. Apart from Welschriesling and Pinot gris, the winery puts great emphasis on Kéknyelű, a unique variety only grown in the Badacsony wine region.
Istvándy’s Kéknyelű sparkling wine is created with “méthode traditionnelle”, that is, the classic Champagne method, meaning that both the secondary fermentation and the maturation/resting process of the base wine-liqueur de tirage mixture take place within the bottle, allowing carbon dioxide to form naturally as a by-product of fermentation. This sparkling wine has yeasty, citrusy aromas, but it also features the characteristically vibrant acids and minerally taste of Kéknyelű.