In the latest issue for Decanter Magazine there was an exclusive supplement guide to Hungary. The 2021 guide included some fantastic wins for Hungary's finest wines and we're pleased to say a whole host of Novel Wines achieved 90pts or higher.
Here's the selection of our top-scoring Hungarian wines in the new Decanter Magazine supplement. I hope, if you've not tasted Hungarian wines before, these scores may inspire you to do so.
Wines arranged by score - enjoy!
Coming in at the top of the Decanter issue was the sweet and moreish Juliet Victor Szamorodni, coming from the brilliant 2017 vintage. Described by judge Caroline Gilby MW as "incredibly luscious and velvety, yet fresh and graceful", this wine was named as one of Gilby's top six Tokaji sweet wines.
Not overly sweet (188g/litre) and a lighter 10.5% abv, this gorgeous naturally botrytised sweet wine is already drinking perfectly. The price is £42.99 but, due to its exclusivity, if you would like a bottle or two please get in touch.
This single vineyard white wine is created from the rare, indigenous grape variety Juhfark. Mainly found in the region of Somlo, not far from the Lake of Balaton, this expression is bottled from a single terraced vineyard of bush vines on the idyllic south slope of Somlo hill. It's wild fermented in stainless steel and then matured in barrel for 8 months. Only 500 bottles were made, so we only have a handful left.*
Tamas Czinki, the master sommelier and another judge in the Decanter supplement, described the wine as "a real impression of Somlo" and awarded it a superb 94pts.
*If we do run out, try the excellent Somloi Vandor Nagy-Somloi Juhfark, which is also a delicious expression of this rare grape.
Rose specialist and wine writer Elizabeth Gabay MW singled out this wine as the best of the bunch in her summary of Hungarian rose wines. Coming from the Tihany peninsula on Lake Balaton, Gabay described it as "Delicate but forceful" singling out its "Incredibly creamy, round, gently and supple body" and noting the "Amazing piercing acidity".
Fully organic and only made in exceptional vintages, the Magma Rose Brut is a traditional method sparkling wine. This means it is made in the same way as Champagne with the second fermentation in bottle and lees ageing to develop complex flavours. The wine is made from 100% Kekfrankos.
Gabay's best words about this great value, £21.99 fizz come right at the beginning of her note: "The palate is 'wow'".
Another top flight winner on the tasting was this Harslevelu from the Barat single vineyard, made by Laszlo Szilagyi. It's small parcel production and leads with Harslevelu's classic aromatic nose (think tropical fruit, sweet citrus and honey blossom). Caroline Gilby MW called it "very pure and gorgeously drinkable" with a "fine finish".
Already standing out as one of our best-sellers, we're struggling to bring it in fast enough! More is on its way but if you want to grab a bottle before it goes, make sure you order it today.
This 100% Olaszrizling, which comes from Gabor Adam's estate in Badacony in western Hungary, is perhaps one of the best value wines to win 90+ points in the feature. At only £11.49, we think it offers a masterful expression of Olaszrizling at its best. Pure and youthful with mouth-watering notes of white peach, pear and almonds.
This wonderful Hungarian white is delicious with pasta bake or fresh bread, hummus and dips.
Picked as one of the best dry Furmint wines you can by, according to Caroline Gilby MW, this single vineyard Furmint is made by winemaker Sarolta Bardos. Her estate has been certified organic since 2018 and she focuses on making handmade wines from gently pressed fruit and light barrel ageing.
Gilby describes the wine as "harmonious and fresh", creating a "lovely, expressive Furmint". It's a creamy white wine laced with pear, mint, honey and peach, making it a great value alternative for fans of premium white Burgundy or Viognier wines. Try it for £17.99 here.
Another organic entry, this time from Erika Racz's single vineyard Rany in Tokaj. This top flight Furmint is leaner and more akin to Riesling in style. Think silky and fresh with waxy lemons, juicy stone fruits and green apples.
Gilby describes Racz's low intervention approach as giving the wine "lovely mineral purity" and letting the Furmint "shine" on the palate.
One of Tokaj's best ever vintages and one of the region's leading quality winemakers, it was probably no surprise that Dr Endre Demeter's Sweet Szamorodni dessert wine would make Caroline Gilby's 'six of the best' Tokaji. Organic, and made purely from the Furmint variety, the Szamorodni style features partly botrytised grapes and a less sweet style of traditional Tokaji.
This was also one of the best value Tokaji recommendations on Gilby's list, so if you've got a sweet tooth, this is certainly the place to start!
The new wave of Egri Bikaver - or Bull's Blood! This blend celebrates the best fruit of Eger, blending a mix of Kekfrankos, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zweigelt, Blauburger and Portugeiser, which Oz Clarke affectionately calls the "lively crew". This wine is made by the eccentric but brilliant Janos Bolyki at his winery cut-out of a chalk mine near the town of Eger.
It's deeply coloured, spicy and has "chewy drinkability". There's plenty of complexity and interest here, especially for fans of the Rhone. Try a bottle for £15.99.
One of our favourite discoveries of the last year, Bussay winery is based in Zala just south-west of the Lake of Balaton. Known for its small production, homemade wines and rolling clay hills, this wine takes its name from the famous Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin in Burgundy.
Tamas Czinki MS remarks on its "earthy yet fruity" appeal and its "sturdy acidity along with very fine tannin".
Its light tannin makes Bussay Charmes Pinot Noir a delight lightly chilled, as you while away the hours in the afternoon sun.
Another high scorer from one of our newest wineries, Bussay, this time made from the rare Csokaszolo grape. Revived by winemaker Dr Dori Bussay, Csokaszolo was once a very popular red in the 19th century, making wines with a shimmering ruby colour.
Today it's fresh like a Pinot Noir, but has it's own earthy and smoky twist. Caroline Gilby MW described it as a "Pretty pink-red wine [... that's] appealing, fresh and a lot of fun". You can pick up a rare bottle for £17.99.
One of our favourite wines - and soon to be wine buyer Ben's wedding wine of choice - the Szent Donat Magma Kekfrankos is a medium bodied and smooth red, matured in concrete eggs and preserving the fresh expression of the terroir.
This best-selling red wine is a single vineyard Kekfrankos grown on a mix of tough clay, basalt, tuff and limestone on the volcanic shores of Lake Balaton.
Tamas Czinki MS sums it up well, saying "Freshness dominated the palate, with smooth tannins".
Last but by no means least, Elizabeth Gabay MW awarded this delightful summer rose from Sabar Winery a cracking 90pts! Given the bottle comes in at under £10, this offers exceptional value for money.
The rose is made from 100% Kekfrankos, the main indigenous black grape variety in Hungary, and cool fermented to preserve freshness and fruitiness. The resulting wine is plush, full of cherries, and has a pleasing grapefruit-like acidity.
Elizabeth Gabay MW commented the wine has a "lively vibrancy".