Has any of you tried the crocodile wine yet? It is among the top 10 Balaton wines of 2014. Népszabadság has just published its annual Hungarian wine top 100, and we gave it a read-through to pick out which were the best Balaton wines according to them. There are big guns and black horses and unsurprising items as well.
The Villa Tolnay wines are regularly referred to as some of the best Balaton wines. Thus, it doesn't come entirely as a surprise that the Rhine Riesling of the Csobánc-based winery fared best in Népszabadság's Top 100. It nicked the 6th position in a Tokay-dominated top 10, as the runner-up white wine. We also believe that you cannot go wrong with the Villa Tolnay wines.
The south shore is represented by but one winery in this list: Ikon, from Balatonlelle-Rádpuszta. We would have been surprised to see the Konyári family completely omitted from the list, or included with only a white item. This top wine born from a Cabernet franc-Syrah marriage claimed the 29th spot. The red is a bizarre reference to a bloody clash between brothers, the battle of 1199 that took place in Rádpuszta, where the winery is also based - although there could only be professional rivalry (if any) among the Konyáris, Borbála in charge of the management of Ikon, and Dániel, who in turn manages the Konyári Winery.
The Dörgicse-based Pántlika Pincészet's Cabernet sauvignon has just made it to the top 10 red wines, standing at the 33rd position of the top 100 list. The commentary of the wine compares this thick, robust item to heavy calvary. This wine could be the perfect ending to a November day in your suite at the Sárffy House in Dörgicse, after a day-long tour of local church ruins.
This is not our first mention of the the Csopak-based Szent Donát winery, in position 54 of the top 100. In addition to the wines, its gastronomical events, the market, and the active, young winemaker, Tamás Kovács are all interesting facets of the winehouse on Csopak's Szita-hegy. This wine has all that's characteristic to Szent Donát wines: Welschriesling, the dominant local variety; Furmint, the Balaton version of which increasingly exciting; the accent of mineral flavours characteristic to Csopak and the elegant looks.
Gazing in the direction of Szigliget from the hillside in Nemesvita, it looks as if a gigantic crocodile was lying in Lake Balaton. This is the reason why vintner János Csali ignored the history of knights, their fights, ancient seals, actresses on holiday and other delicacies, and went forth to name his wines after the crocodile, even though the animal is alien to the region. This Welschriesling icewine in the 56th place of the list also bears the denomination Krokodilbor (crocodile wine). Its fragrant resembles tropical fruits, so there's a slight connection to the beast.
János Csali sees a crocodile in Lake Balaton - the Canadian-Hungarian Robert Gilvesy/Gilvesy Róbert sees a UFO. Gilvesy (originally an architect) and his winery on Szent György-hegy and the Badacsony are characterised by an artsy-urban-bohemian air. The Rhine Riesling in position 60 follows suit: it's light, fruity and flowery. Its label looks quite stern - until you discover the flying saucer on it.
Another Welschriesling icewine, this time from the Borbély Családi Pincészet. This Badacsony-based winery is perhaps better known thanks to its colourful and youngish labels. Its icewine in 69th place is one of the more significant bottles both in terms of price and content - its positioned more for celebrations than the informal chat over wine. In addition to their wine cellar, the Borbély family also has a guest house in Badacsony. We'd recommend starting to familiarize with their wines there.
You do not see Rizlingszilváni often at Lake Balaton. If you search for it by the official name, Müller-Thurgau, yu might have better luck, but still, it's not widespread here. Dávid Brazsil started cultivating this grape variety (also considered as the basis of cheap mass wines) with a doctorate and interational expertise. The 71st position of the Brazsil Cseppe winery (close to Balatonfüred) is a good enough proof that it is indeed worth dedicating time to this variety.
The Szászi Cellar on Szent-György-hegy (and in the 81st position) is known on one hand for the hand-drawn labels designed in family co-production, on the other hand for its organic farming methods, the importance of which received emphasis also at the harvest. Amidst the various Rieslings, they made it to the list with a unique Badacsony variation, the Rózsakő. Wine in itself is not enough for the all natural-organic feel, so we'd recommend a visit to Endre Szászi and the vineyard on Szent György-hegy.
Here's another competitor to the Furmints of Tállya, Mád and Tokaj. The Furmint (known earlier as "Szigeti" by Lake Balaton) holds an important position in the varied selection of the Köveskál-based Pálffy Pince. We are in no position to decide which region prevails in the Furmint race and it would probably make no sense to do so. The Káli Királyi Furmint is 83th on the list. Köveskál and the Pálffy Cellar are worth a visit in themselves. WIth wine, the visit is even more fun.