St Donat: The Essence of Balaton (Monday, Issue 1)
Wine lovers, meet the brilliant Szent Donat winery from Hungary.
'The Essence of Balaton' is the strapline for Tamas Kovacs' wonderful family-run winery, based in the Lake of Balaton itself - Europe's second largest (but most beautiful) lake. Kovacs' wine is very much the essence of this picturesque area, each wine showcasing the millenia of soil history his vines are rooted in.
If you're new to St. Donat wines, then Kovacs has created a range called 'Soil Stories'. These are approachable, easy-to-love wines that don't try and do anything fancy - they just taste great with a mineral, refreshing finish. That minerality comes from the drainage these soils offer and the microclimate from being so close to the great lake. It means you have a longer ripening season and a really well balanced grape when you come to pick it.
Our two favourites are the crisp Sauvignon/Furmint blend in the Tropusi Laguna Blanc (tropical lagoon white) and the volcanic Kekfrankos in the rosé. Both are great value, best enjoyed lightly chilled by the glass on a cool, sunny Autumn evening.
However, if you want to see why Kovacs' wine is so internationally well-received then there's one wine of his that stands above them all: his 'Magma' Kekfrankos. The 2017 vintage blew us away when we tasted it on the balcony overlooking Kovacs' estate late laste year.
The fruit is grown on a single vineyard with a unique mix of tough clay, basalt, tuff and limestone that lend both fruit ripeness but retain a lovely, refreshing acidity. The result being a medium-full red with packs of flavour while being elegant and silky in its texture.
After minimum intervention in the winery, its left to rest in French oak barrels for 10 months. The aim here is to add texture and structure - not too much oak flavour. The wine morphs into a warming style with a fine tannin, loads of plum and hints of cocoa and vanilla. The final wine is bottled unfiltered, so you don't miss an ounce of its goodness.
If you want to try one red this Autumn, you really ought to give Tamas Kovacs' Magma a try. It's one of the best wines we've discovered.
Ben and Gyorgy.
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