9021 Győr, Kisfaludy utca 8. | +36 30 239 4904

HISTORY OF HUNGARIAN WINE GROWING – PAST & PRESENT

Hungarians, just like their neighbouring tribes have been familiar with wine since the 5th century, when they lived in the area around Lake Meotis. The chronicles of the Arab writer Ibn Rostah provide evidence to that fact. The members of the 106 tribes who arrived in the Carpathian Basin must have been overjoyed to see the blossoming grapes on the hill slopes and that might have been one of the reasons why they decided to settle in this part of Europe. Wine growing was so important that in the Founding Document of the Abbey of Pannonhalma, Stephen the First (1001-1038) mentions grapes first among many other crops which were to be handed over as tithe, a form of taxation in those days. The first document on grapes grown in sandy areas dates back to 1075, when Géza the First donated the vineyards around Felsõalpár to the Abbey of Garamszentbenedek. Under the reign of Géza the Second, they began clearing away the forests around Buda Castle, and the trees were replaced by vines. Óbuda, Kis Gellérthegy and the Sashegy were the first “vineyard hills”. Contemporary records indicate that King Béla the Third (1173-1198) distributed large quantities of wine among the Crusaders as they were passing through Hungary. Those were the early days of wine trading.

The evidence of the rapid development of the vineyards around Buda Castle are mentioned in a Certificate from 1211, and in three documents from 1212, in which András the Second (1205-1235) grant a kind of public authority to the Buda Church over the vineyards in the area. The grapes suffered as much from the Invasion of the Tartars in 1241, as did the whole nation. The invasion caused serious damage and destroyed much of the grapes. The rebuilding of the country after the Tartar Invasion began under the wise guidance of King Béla the Fourth (1235-1270), who is also known as the Second Founder of the Homeland. The king ruled that duties payable at Buda Harbour and Market should be equal to two weight units after each container of wine. Wine exports – especially to Germany and Poland – continued to increase under the reign of András the Third, the last Hungarian king from the House of Árpád. The extinction of the House of Árpád was followed by a period of upheaval and quarrels. King Károly Róbert (1308-1342) finally gained access to the throne, and restored law and order, which gave a boost to wine trade and wine production. Lajos the Great (1342-1382) continued his father’s stable political and economic legacy. The House of the Anjou Dynasty was a worthy successor to the carefully planned wine growing activities started by the Kings from the House of Árpád. Unfortunately both wine trade and wine production declined after the fall of the Angevin Kings. Wars raged during the reign of Zsigmond, King and Holy Roman Emperor (1387-1437). Public safety was continuously underthreat, and wine trading almost came to a total halt. The decrease in exports being due to external circumstances, not to the quality of Hungarian wine. However, under King Matthias (1458-1490) the country started to flourish once again: industry and trade rapidly developed, cities became richer, and the cultural renaissance reached its peak. It was a time of dynamic development in wine growing. Matthias’ death was followed by a steep decline in the economy. This was made even worse by a series of laws designed to strengthen feudalism, especially after the insurrection that was led by Dózsa in 1514. National poverty reached its lowest point under the reign of the Jagelló Kings (1490-1526) who ascended the throne after much bloodshed. Money was continuously losing its value, which was deleterious for wine growing, which requires a great deal of investment. Wine growing and wine production went into serious decline during the 150 years of Turkish occupation which began after the Defeat of Mohács. Viticulture and viniculture were revived after 1686, and production increased, especially in the unoccupied territories. In the 18th and 19th centuries grape growing and wine production were present in nearly every corner of the country. The rapid growth in production had a favourable effect on our relationship with the Habsburgs and Austria. By the early 19th century the Hungarian wine industry had reached an unprecedented size. Unfortunately the growth in quantity, which limited exports to 4 million barrels. This resulted in domination by the competition at a time when the separation of European wine markets was just emerging. The first large scale reconstruction of Hungarian wine growing areas took approximately 30 years, and they had to struggle with the phylloxera and the peronospores. The second major reconstruction began in the ninteen sixties, and it is still not over. Changes do not happen overnight where tradition goes back to thousands of years and where one step forward may take centuries.

WINE REGIONS IN HUNGARY

BÜKKALJA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1750 hectares

Climate: The region is protected from the cold winds from the north by the Bükk hills which has resulted in a favourable micro-climate on the southern and south-western slopes.

Soil: The area is characterised by black wet (“nyirok”) soils developed on rhyolite, brown soils, forest soils with clay illuviation.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Italian Riesling, Leányka, Merlot, Zweigelt.

Description: There is ample evidence of the gatherer lifestyle even of prehistoric man in the region of Greater Miskolc; and we have evidence of ancient production from the oldest times. During the centuries following the invasion of the Carpathian Basin by the Magyars, cultivated land was still relatively small. But, along with the growth of the population, increasing sections of the shrubby slopes were converted into agricultural land. These areas were suitable for the production of a variety of fruits, along with the introduction of the most appreciated grapes suitable for wine making. For wild vine, an indigenous plant of the Hungarian Mountain Range, was known to the population. Its berries were appreciated by prehistoric man who lived there from the end of the ice age.

We do not know much about the beginning of grape production in the region. A document in 1313 makes the first mention of grapes, indicating that grape production was an important branch of local agriculture. The vineyard mentioned in the document was donated to the Pauline monks by István Ernyei, the lord of the castle of Diósgyõr at the time.

On 11 Feb., 1503 Ulászló confirmed the town’s earlier wine patent: “Aliens may not sell wine in the town of Miskolc, and those breaching this will lose their wine”. By that time not only the southern aspect of the hills around Diósgyõr and the hilly areas north of the streamlet Szinva near Miskolc were areas of flourishing grape producing culture.

An interesting statement is found in an economic study, “Statistik des Königreichs” published in Pest, in 1798: “Miskolc exceeds the income originating from the trade of the wines of Tokaj, Sopron and Ruszt.” The reason for this was that some of the must from the Hegyalja region was also fermented in the system of cellars of Miskolc, and exported from there. The oldest cellars of this huge network originate from the Middle Ages. But the network itself had evolved by the 17th-18th century. In the 18th century the major varieties included Gohér, Furmint, Hárslevelû, Bátai, Demjén and Fejér.

From a census conducted in 1928 it is known that the poorest people of Borsod were employed in part in the vineyards of Miskolc. In the 19th and 20th centuries Tibolddaróc was famous for its production of wine for fermentation into sparkling wine. Italian Riesling and Furmint were the varieties used for this purpose.

 

 

BALATONBOGLÁR (South – Lake Balaton) WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 3250 hectares

Climate: The region is sufficiently sunny, with a balanced climate which provides for reliable production.

Soil: The vineyards were established on the hilly region of Külsõ-Somogy, the Transdanubian hilly region and Somogy-Tolna, on brown forest soils, brown soils developed on Pleistocene loess base and in some areas on sand.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Irsai Olivér, Királyleányka, Merlot, Pinot noir, Rhine, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Yellow Muscat.

Description: In the region south of Lake Balaton, after the Phylloxera apidemic, a flourishing culture of grape and wine production developed. This was based partly on the tradition of the Benedictine and the Festetics estates, and partly on the basis of the traditions of peasant growers. The vineyards planted on the immune Pannonian sands saved thousands of wine makers from impoverishment. However, the real recovery of the wine region was brought about by the plantations during the mid-20th century. The new vines are high yielders on the richer loess and medium sticky adobe type soil, and, thanks to the careful selection of varieties, they provide excellent wines.

 

 

EGER WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 6200 hectares

Climate: The most characteristic features of the region are the late spring and that the climate is somewhat dry.

Soil: On the hillsides and gentler slopes there are black chalkless wet soils, brown soils, brown forest soils with clay illuviation etc. developed primarily on the basis of Miocenic rhyolite tuff.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Leányka, Italian Riesling, Chardonnay, Ottonel Muscat, Tramini, Sauvignon blanc, Zenit, Királyleányka, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Hárslevelû, Chardonnay, Portugieser; Blauburger, Pinot noir, Kadarka, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Blue Frankish.

Description: While not having much to do with today’s grape production, it is interesting to note that a 30 million year fossil of a leaf of Vitis hungarica was found recently on the slope of Kis-Eged hill.

One of the first episcopacies founded by King St. Stephen was in Eger.; and the monks who came to the episcopacy brought with them the grape varieties of their homeland.

After the Mongolian invasion decimated the population. King Béla IV settled Walloons in this area. They also introduced their grape production and wine making techniques (e.g. the use of the cask).

The initiation and development of grape production is seen as a result of the central directing influence of the Church, since wine is one of the indispensable constituents of church ceremonies. Pursuant to a royal decree tithe had to be paid from wine to both the church and secular institutions. The first cellars were built to store the tithe.

After decades of unsuccessful siege in 1596 the Turks took the castle of Eger, which they retained for 91 years. But grape production survived the oppression. One of the reason for this was that, though the Turks did not drink much wine themselves, but they appreciated the substantial revenues.

In the 17th century the proportion of red wine grape varieties increased while that of white varieties declined. In 1867, the castle was taken back from the Turks. The names of the hills on which grape is produced today originate from the late 17th and the 18th century.

Phylloxera struck the Eger wine region in 1886, and it virtually eradicated all the vineyards. In the course reconstruction, a number of new varieties were also brought into the wine region.

Bull’s Blood (Bikavér) is the most famous wine of the region. This is produced through the blending of the wines of a number of red wine grapes. Previously the basis of the wine was constituted by the various varieties of Kadarka. Today it is often based on Blue Frankish. This is the first wine of Hungary under protection of origin. The vine growers’ community put together the “Bull’s Blood Code” in 1997. It is interesting to know that Bull’s Blood was first produced in Szekszárd – but it has never achieved the fame of that of Eger.

 

 

ETYEK – BUDA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 3900 hectares

Climate: Although the well drained hillsides and the highland fields are very exposed, they have an outstanding reliability of production, and severe frost damage is rarely experienced. The annual average temperature is somewhat lower than the national average, while the precipitation is close to the national average. The ecological conditions provide for the production of excellent base wines for sparkling wine production with an early harvest. Late harvest grapes provides raw material for premium wines.

Soil: On chalky base rock loess based chernozem and chernozem soils with forest residues.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Királyleányka, Italian Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Ottonel Muscat, Sauvignon blanc

Pinot gris, Zenit, Zöld veltelini, Pinot blanc, Yellow Muscat, Cserszegi fûszeres, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon

Blue Frankish, Portugieser, Merlot, Zweigelt, Pinot noir.

 

Description: The former wine region in the vicinity of Buda included the vineyards on the hilly region extending from Szentendre to Tétény, along the River Danube. This region had been inhabited since pre-historic times.

Grape production flourished during the reign of the Kings of the House of Árpád; and this became the main source of income for the inhabitants of the region. A number of Serbs have settled in this region, which has resulted in the dominance of the production of red wines following the Turkish occupation. After the expulsion of the Turks, German grape producers settled in the region, probably as a result of the efforts to re-populate parts of Hungary de-populated under the Turkish rule. The River Danube provided an excellent transport route, therefore, the wine makers of the day constructed large cellars for the storing of wine – most of those cellars are still in use today. The planting of grapes became a regular practice in Promontor and its vicinity in the second half of the 18th century. Even the poorest cotter had a small vineyard. From the end of the century it became quite a fashionable pastime to have and use wine cellars, and to produce wine and entertain guests. This was favoured by the civic population of Buda and Pest, who rented vineyards in Promontor and Kistétény. This lead to the development of a veritable “cellar cult”.

Unfortunately, in 1890 Phylloxera almost entirely killed off all vineyards.

The history of vineyards of Etyek was also similar, with the difference that in the mid 19th century the vineyards of the estates in the valley of the river Vág earned renown by their modernisation and innovation. Towards the end of the 19th century the white wine of the famous sparkling wine of the Törley family was also produced in the Etyek region.

 

 

HAJÓS – BAJA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1690 hectares

Climate: Rather extreme. The region is susceptible to frost damage, and in some years production can be severely affected.

Soil: In most places loess soil, with surface sand on meadow clay.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Italian Riesling, Kadarka, Királyleányka, Zweigelt.

Description: Its history is rather similar to that of the other wine regions of the Great Plain (see Csongrád wine region), with the difference that in the 18th century Germans settled in the region, and the cellar village of Hajós is typical of their occupation. The fermented wine in these characteristic cellar villages, consisting of cellar streets, of folk baroque, in cellars dug in loess walls. The expertise of the German wine makers with their typical blue aprons, contributed substantially to the improvement of the following and reputation of the wines for this region. Following the Phylloxera disaster the area under grapes grew significantly and the range of the red and white wines also expanded.

 

 

KUNSÁG WINE REGION   &   CSONGRÁD WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 21 590 hectares

Climate: Varied and extreme. Summer droughts, extremely cold winters, and sharp winter and autumn frosts are frequent. On days of summer heat grape stocks are often scorched. This is a wine region of modest reliability of production.

Soil: Most of it is chalky sand of Danubian origin, settled in layers of varying thickness on the meadow and prairie soils. In some places it covers the thick adobe and clay soil in thin layers, in other places it forms mounds.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Bianca, Blauburger, Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Ezerjó, Italian Riesling, Izsáki, Kadarka, Karát, Királyleányka, Kövidinka, Kunleány, Ottonel Muscat, Pinot blanc, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Sauvignon blanc, Szürkebarát, Tramini, Zöld veltelini, Zweigelt.

Description: We have no information on whether before the Mohács Disaster, there had been any grape production of the area of Kiskunság or Nagykunság. Its history since the Turkish invasion has been rather similar to that of the rest of the Great Plain (see Csongrád wine region). Since the disaster caused by Phylloxera, the immune sandy soils, where the infection does not survive, have increased in value. By the late 19th century the wine growing area of the region had multiplied. Following the second reconstruction in the sixties, the land devoted to wine growing continued to increase; but in those times primarily traditional varieties, providing for simple bulk wine were planted. Since the seventies, however, improved, quality varieties have become dominant in both large estates and smallholders’ plots. Plantations have also been established on large areas for the production of base wine for sparkling wine production.

 

 

MÁTRAALJA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 7900 hectares

Climate: The mountain ranges of the Mátra hills provide substantial protection from the North which results in a favourable micro-climate.

Soil: There is a great variety of soils, including chernozem formed on Pannonian clay, marl, loess, andesite, rhyolite tuff, brown forest soil, black wet soil, brown forest soil with clay illuviation, brown soil and even humus containing sand from the Pleistocene and Holocene. Most of the soils here contain little chalk.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Leányka, Ottonel Muscat, Sauvignon blanc, Szürkebarát, Tramini.

Description: In 1042 near the community of Saár, a convent and vineyard were constructed with a donation from the King. Over 200 years later, a document dating back to 1261 authorised the donation of Gungus Puspoly (Gyöngyöspüspöki) to the church of Eger, together with its vineyards.

According to a decree, granted in 1334 the town of Gyöngyös was permitted to elect its own legislative body free of a landlord, and was free to dispose of all the wine produced in the territory of the town.

In the 15th century the higher quality standards attained by the wine region enabled a larger scale wine trade to evolve.

Later the Turks took the town, primarily for the purpose of collecting as much wine as tithe as possible so that the Turkish governor of Hatvan could benefit from the high prices the local wines could achieve.

After the Turkish occupation the population of the region supported the rebellion against unfair land Rákóczi, and following the suppression of the freedom fight the grape producers were also pushed into serfdom. The new land owners did not care much about improvement, so the grape producing culture evolved only through slow processes.

The 1755 customs decree issued by Marie Theresa, also had a severe effect on the wine trade of the region. Nevertheless, the middle of the 18th century was a period of wine planting on a large scale.

Unfortunately, the devastation by Phylloxera did not avoid the vineyards of Mátraalja.

In the first third of the 20th century the Debrõi Hárslevelû of the Károlyi estate earned world-wide renown. In some of the wineries of the region, kosher wines have long been produced for the festivities of the Jewish population.

 

 

MECSEKALJA (PÉCS) WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 820 hectares

Climate: A wine region with an almost sub-Mediterranean climate.This allows for the longest growing season, medium precipitation; but with a fairly poor water supply.

Soil: Podsol type and brown forest soils with clay illuviation, rendzina, formed on the residues of Warfen slate, Permian red sandstone and chalk, marl and loess containing, for the most part, little chalk.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cirfandli, Italian Riesling, Merlot, Pinot noir., Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc.

Description: Signs of a dual grape cultivation culture are evident. One is a Celtic technology – learned from the Greeks – the other is an Italian approach bequeathed by the Romans. The town of Sopianae (today the town of Pécs) was built at the crossroads of important trade routes. In 1694 the county of Baranya was granted its own coat of arms, the ornaments of which include grapes. This may also have been the result of the “heveng” which was produced by hanging ripe grape clusters on strong sloe branches to encourage shrinkage and lasting qualities. In 1780 Maria Theresa granted the status of a free royal town to the town of Pécs, all of the inns (wine bars) were transferred into the ownership of the town. At that time there was one wine bar for every 25-30 inhabitants. The early 1830’s brought about a revolutionary change, staves were introduced in the cultivation of grapes, replacing the cultivation without supports practised up to that period. The wine of Baranya county captured an increasing number of markets. This led to the industry of the town being founded on the revenues of the wine trade. The chapter of Pécs imported Cirfandli, a variety of Austrian origin, for his own use; and it has grown into a speciality of Pécs ever since. Phylloxera eradicated 80% of the vineyards. The red wine of Kadarka used to be the predominant variety of the region. But today, fiery, aromatic white wines have become prevalent. The Cirfandli of Pécs is the speciality of the region.

 

 

MÓR WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 730 hectares

Climate: The climate of the region is generally characteristic of the northern areas of Transdanubia, and is moderately suitable for grape production. The favourable micro-climate and mezzo-climate result in relatively good growing conditions on the southern and south-western slopes of the hills.

Soil: Predominantly, brown forest soils with clay illuviation, brown soils rendzina and loess surfaces, as well as Oligocenic sand formed on loess, loess mixed with clay residues and dolomite.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Ezerjó, Királyleányka, Ottonel Muscat, Rhine Riesling, Tramini.

Description: There are remains from the earliest periods of history, dating back to the Stone Age. Grape production is proven to have been founded by the Romans, which was continued by the Avars. In 1327 Károly Robert attached the area to the castle of Csókakõ which was then owned by Csák Péter and Csák István. Documents from the 16th century already make regular mention of grapes. The name of the municipality of Mór was first mentioned in the 15th century. According to the codes, the grape growing culture of the region had developed sufficiently by the 16th century but the produce was not sold abroad. Progress was also halted in this region by the Turkish occupation. Military dominance almost completely de-populated the region, and grape plantations declined. The history of the wine region and that of the wine Ezerjó are thought to have come to prominence in the 18th century. The region was re-populated with German settlers who came to live here after the original population was driven away or killed by the invading Turks. At the same time the Capuchins also settled in Mór, and became the best grape growers of the region. The importance of the wine region grew in the 19th century. There was a period when, owing to the substantial demand abroad, the wines of the Mór wine region were sold at the highest prices after the wines of Tokaj. On the sandy loess and sand soils Phylloxera did not cause as much problems as in other wine regions with heavier soils. In 1901 the council of the municipality of Mór initiated that “Mór and its vicinity should qualify as a separate wine region”. Up till then it had belonged to the “Neszmély” wine region.

 

 

PANNONHALMA – SOKORÓALJA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 720 hectares

Climate: This region is influenced by the agro-ecological district comprising by the Bakony region, the Gyõr basin, and the Marcali basin. Its weather conditions are balanced, and by Hungarian standards it is moderately sunny and warm, with a sufficient level of annual precipitation.

Soil: Brown soils developed on sand and loess, with mosaic type sand patches.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Királyleányka, Pinot gris, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Irsai Olivér, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Blau Frankish, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Tramini, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Zweigelt.

Description: One of the earliest regions to produce wine. In the estates and villages of the Hungarian Benedictine Arch-Abbey, on the Szent Márton hill, they have grown grapes and filtered wine since the foundation of the Hungarian state. Following the devastation by Phylloxera the Arch Abbot and the priests of the Order, taught the proper and rational practice of grape growing and wine making from the pulpits of the churches, while the estates provided the best examples of advanced practices.

 

 

SOMLÓ (Hill) WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 690 hectares

Climate: This is the only wine region in Hungary where grapes are grown on the northern slope of a hill. The climate of the region is balanced, a characteristic of Transdanubia.

Soil: Loess, Pannonian sand, mixed with basalt and tuff debris; iron containing clay and black wet soil are also found in the region.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Furmint, Hárslevelű, Italian Riesling, Juhfark, Riesling, Chardonnay.

Description: Bronze Age man settled in this region along the spring “Séd”; and the Celts also established their presence here, although the first vines were probably planted by the Romans.

At the time of the invasion of the Carpathian basin by the Magyars, the Lél, Szalók, Salamon and Ákus clans settled in this region amongst pre-existing vineyards. King St. Stephen founded the Benedictine convent at Torna in about 1010 – the convent also had a vineyard. The first mention is made of the castle and the vineyards flourishing around it, in a document dating back to 1093, to the period of the reign of King László I. In 1242 King Béla imported grape the same grower settlers from Morea in Italy as well as vine shoots. Furmint must have been imported to this area at that time. The vine plantations of the region were highly valuable estates, therefore, ownership of these areas changed frequently. It is almost impossible to follow all the changes of the owners of the castle. In the 16th century the vineyards on the slopes of the old volcanic hill became so highly esteemed that the hillside law, adopted in 1511, declared that vineyard owners were permitted to sell their vineyards only to their closest of kin. The castle was taken back from the Turks after three years of occupation (in 1566). Thereafter it functioned as a classical border fortress. In the municipality of Zirc there was no pharmacist available until 1742. Anyone with health problems was cured with the wine of the region. It was also widely held that drinking the local wine on the bridal night guaranteed the birth of a son. This is why it is also called the “wine of wedding nights”. In the 19th century the castle gradually fell into disrepair but the area of the vineyards continued to expand. Furmint and Juhfark of Somló are the most famous wines.

 

 

SOPRON WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1890 hectares

Climate: The area is cool in winter. It has the highest precipitation among all the wine regions, but its winters are milder. It is windy, and sub-Alpine influence is evident.

Soil: Adobe and brown forest soils, Pleistocene sand developed on the basis of the debris of the Sarmatic and Pannonian layers, on crystal slate, chalk, loess.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Zenit, Zöld veltelini, Zweigelt.

Description: The Celts founded the town of Scarbant. Around 300 B.C., the occupying Romans called the town Scarabantia. Today it is Sopron. Once an important merchant town, it was located on the famous amber route of the Romans. Populated by a steady stream of settlers from lower Austria, their occupation was most intensive in the second half of the 14th century. In an ordinance issued in 1446 King Matthias made Sopron a centre for the trading of its own and others’ merchandise. The wealth of the civic population of Sopron was based on grapes in the 18th century, but this was devastated by Phylloxera which halted the development of grape production. In the early 18th century the army of Napoleon took the town, and one of the leading grape varieties, Blue Frankish, comes from the blue colour of the French currency. For consumption the growers were permitted to sell only their own wine in their own houses. Their inn-sign comprised a bush fixed on a wood or wrought iron bar. The bush was usually made of larch branches and it was of a cylinder shape. If good old wine was sold, a wreath was added to the bush, lengthways. A red or white felt strip was tied on the underside of the bush, indicating the sale of red or white wine. They cut a series of small round holes in the strips. A straw cross hanging beside the strip indicated the sale of vintage wine. The door leading to the room used for on-site wine sales was marked with green twigs. The sale of must was indicated by a wreath of leafy vine shoots hung on the bar.

 

 

SZEKSZÁRD WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 2825 hectares

Climate: The climate of the wine region is balanced, and spring or autumn frosts do not often damage the plantations. The summers are warm, in some places, in dryer years, droughts can cause damage.

Soil: Mostly loess, in smaller areas loess mixed with Pannonian sand.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Kadarka, Merlot, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Sauvignon blanc, Tramini, Zöldveltelini, Zweigelt.

Description: Grape production by the Celts is an assumption, but the Romans undoubtedly produced grapes in the region. At that time the roman settlement, which today is Szekszárd, was called Alisca. The first reliable source of information was a notice, issued by the Chapter of Esztergom, containing the document of foundation by Béla I, listing the donations made in 1061. The church estates were foremost in the production of quality wines, and this is confirmed by a document for the Szekszárd Abbey of 1267. The Serbs, fleeing from the Turks, brought the Kadarka variety to this region, along with the southern Slav red wine culture. In 1541 the Turks turned the town into a seat of the Sanjac, but wine making was continued. Indeed, some of the vineyards were owned by Mohammedans. In the early 18th century Mihály Mérey and subsequent abbots granted a preference to grape producers of only having to pay the tenth (but not the ninth’ tenth as a tithe). This opportunity attracted German settlers as well, who came to the wine region in several waves. The knowledge of the local grape growers and wine makers, supplemented by the techniques introduced by the new settlers, improved the standards of the wine region’s vine cultivation and wine making culture. In 1828 there were still 37 white and 29 “black” varieties produced, including 6 types of Kadarka (even a white one). Some 20 years later there were only a handful of dominant grape varieties. As a result of the Napoleonic wars, the demand for wine increased. After 1815 the demand declined but there was always a market for good red wine. Pál Magda even mentions “wine made of aszú (Botrytis infected) grapes”. The wines of Szekszárd became famous, especially in German speaking areas. Phylloxera damaged this area as well, turning the hills that used to flourish with vineyards, almost entirely barren.

 

 

TOKAJ – HEGYALJA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 5640 hectares

Climate: The climate is of a continental type, with frequent dry, warm autumn weather, enabling the formation of berries shrunk with Botrytis (aszú). Soil: Brown forest soils have developed mainly on a volcanic layer of rhyolite, andesite and such tuffs. The predominant portion of the soil of the wine region is very heavy clay, often stony, wet which is difficult to cultivate. In some sections of Kopasz hill in Tokaj there are loess soils.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Furmint, Hárslevelû, Sárga muskotály (Yellow Muscat), Zéta (Oremus), Zengő, Zenit, Zeusz, Kabar.

Description: The invading Magyars already found vineyards and they were aware of the value of such plantations. Where the River Bodrog flows into the River Tisza they erected an earth-fortress, called Hímesudvar. This settlement has grown into today’s Tokaj. The name Tokaj is probably of old Turkish origin, meaning “riverside forest”.

The first reliable mention of the vineyards of the Tokaj-Piedmont region dates back to 1251, in the founding document of the Provostship of Turócz. The kings of the House of Árpád settled grape growers with considerable grape growing traditions in the territory of the Kingdom. At that time Tokaj-Hegyalja did not excel among our wine regions.

The Mongol invasion devastated the then existing vineyards. In order to re-establish the plantations King Béla IV introduced Italian and Walloon settlers to Hungary, including Hegyalja, as is indicated by the names of a number of municipalities, such as Olaszlizka, Bordogolaszi. The Furmint, Bakator and Gohér varieties were probably introduced at this time. No special mention was made of the wine of Tokaj until the 1400s. At the time, our most renowned wine region was that of Szerémség, until it was occupied by the Turks. The raisin wine technology which probably came from the south (Greece) was introduced in Tokaj-Hegyalja through Szerémség. Legend has it that the first aszú wine was offered on the Easter of 1631 by the priest Máté Lackó Sepsi to Zsuzsa Lórántfy in Sátoraljaújhely. The grapes came from the Oremusz slope. Aszú wine must have been made a lot earlier in Hegyalja. This is indicated by the fact that the term “aszú grapes” had already been used in the 1590s (in the Latin-Hungarian dictionary of Balazs Fabricius Szikszai) and they produced some “prime” wine which may have been identical with that which today is called aszú.

Late harvest is an essential pre-requisite of the formation of aszú. Until the 1700s harvest was started in the week of Gál (10 Oct.). Later it was shifted through several stages to the day of Simon-Judah (28 Oct.). This is indicated by a host of proverbs. In the 1600s an increasing number of legal regulations were introduced. Indeed, in 1655 the then Parliament also dealt with the aszú wine. This is also an indication of the economic importance of the production of aszú wine.

The production of aszú enjoyed its heyday in the late 18th and early 19th century. Hundreds of experts wrote about the wine, dealing with its chemical and medicinal aspects as well. For quite some time it was hoped that it even contains gold. In those times attempts were made in almost all of our wine regions to produce aszú wine, but Tokaji forced these out of the market. The most important competitors included the wines of Ruszt and Ménes.

Most of the wine were sold to Polish and Russian merchants and customers. Czar Peter and Czarina Catherine considered their aszú supplies so important that they stationed a military unit in Tokaj to supervise the procurement and the security of each consignment. However, the decrees issued by Queen Maria Theresa resulted in a substantial decline of the trade of aszú. Once more the Phylloxera infection almost entirely eradicated the vineyards of Hegyalja; and re-plantation resulted in a substantial reduction of the number of cultivated varieties. Until the mid-20th century a lot of kosher wine was produced for Jewish holiday tables. Since privatisation, a number of foreign investors are now producing wine in this region. The wine making technology promoted by foreigners has resulted in the emergence of a new style of aszú, to meet west European tastes and to promote the returns on capital. The emphasis with these wines is placed more on the primary aromas originating from the grapes, they are lighter, less oxidative than the wines of the older wine making technologies.

 

 

TOLNA WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 2900 hectares

Climate: The climate of the wine region is balanced, spring or autumn frosts do not often damage the plantations, the summers are warm, in some places, in dryer years, draught causes damage.

Soil: Mostly loess, in some places brown forest soil.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Kadarka, Királyleányka, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Sauvignon Blanc, Tramini, Zenit, Zöldveltelini, Zweigelt.

Description: It has been a separate wine region since 1 Jan., 1988. Until then it belonged to the Szekszárd wine region. Since 1997 it has been a separate wine region according to the Hungarian Wine Act. Its plantations are well tended, small vineyards and household plots account for a substantial proportion of the region. The majority of the vine covered slopes are of an eastern and western exposure. In the region that was formerly an integral part of the Szekszárd wine region the grape growing technology and the principles of wine making are similar to those applied in the Szekszárd region. Most of the wines made here are aromatic white wines of harmonious acid contents.

 

 

VILLÁNY – SIKLÓS WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 2600 hectares

Climate: Sub-Mediterranean as in the Mecsekalja wine region, with warm and fairly dry weather and characteristically long growing seasons. This is the hottest and sunniest wine region in Hungary. The warmth of the slopes protected on several sides is increased by the warm air currents from the Mediterranean.

Soil: Mostly loess and red clay, the loess is mixed in some places with Triassic dolomite, chalk and Jurassic chalk.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue frankish, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Hárslevelû, Italian Riesling, Kékoportó, Merlot, Ottonel Muscat, Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Tramini.

Description: Grape growing is assumed to date back to the Celts, and is proven to have been practised by the Romans.

Following the Mongolian invasion the Hungarians cultivated vine primarily around the castles (in this region Siklós and Szársomlyó). This is indicated also by King Béla IV mentioning the vicinity of Harsány together with the vineyards in the founding document of the Szársomlyó castle. Under Turkish rule, Villány was devastated; but grape production was not terminated for the inhabitants of the nearby villages continued to cultivate part of the vineyards of Villány. The Turks introduced Slav and Serb settlers into the de-populated Hungarian villages of the region. They brought along Kadarka, and the technology of fermentation of the berry in red wine production. Following the victorious battle at Nagyharsány in 1867 more Serbs settled in the region. From the late 17th century, the population decimated during the Turkish occupation, was replaced on an ongoing and organised basis primarily by German people. They brought with them the Portugieser, i.e. the Kékoportó variety. Rows of wine cellars were constructed in the vicinity of the villages; and the wine of Villány grew in renown, turning into a significant export commodity. Phylloxera did not bypass these vineyards either. However, in the re-establishment, in 1912 the Schaumburg-Lippe estate established a sparkling wine factory.

Kadarka, Portugieser and Blue Frankish are considered as traditional varieties of the region. After the Phylloxera devastation varieties of French origin were also introduced, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The region of Villány is dominated by red wine types, while Siklós is characterised by white wine grape varieties.

 

 

ZALA (Balatonmelléke) WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1700 hectares

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Italian Riesling, Királyleányka, Pinot gris, Rizlingszilváni, Sauvignon Blanc Tramini.

Description: Its status as a separate wine region was restored on 1 Jan., 1998. The name of Pogánydûlõ (Pagan slope) and the remnants found there indicate that grape had already been grown here, even before the creation of the State of Hungary. The title deeds of the counts of Kõszeg dating back to 1279, was the first written document mentioning vineyards. The vineyards of Királyvölgy belonged to the estate of the Castle of Kõszeg, which was owned by the king, and the wine produced was stored in the cellars of the castle. Legend has it that in 1532 Suleyman, with his chief general, Ibrahim, watched the onslaught of their soldiers from the field overlooking the kings’ vineyard. During the fight for independence the roaming soldiers often took the harvest by force, grubbing the vine stocks and looting the wines from the cellars. After the Rákóczi fight for freedom, German settlers came in large numbers to this region. The town was restored, and in 1746 there was a total grape growing area of about 800 acres. Despite the civic predominance of the population of the town there was a large number of prime producers and wine cultivating workers (Hauers). The majority of the vineyards was owned by rich urban citizens, and cultivated by hired workers. The serfs paid their taxes to the town by villeinage and tithe. In 1889 much of the vineyards was destroyed by Phylloxera. A much valued relic of this region is the “Book of the Coming of Grapes”. This relates the history of drawing the shoot of the vine on the day of St. George.

 

 

ÁSZÁR – NESZMÉLY WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1100 hectares

Climate: The area is characterised by modest fluctuations in temperature, which are milder than those experienced in the wine region of the Great Plain. Humidity is relatively high. The intensity and the frequency of the late spring and early autumn frosts are both low. The annual average precipitation is medium. Soil: Brown forest soil developed on a loess basis is dominant, but there are also rendzina soils developed on chalk and dolomite, as well as forest soils evolved on the basis of sandstone, marl and sand.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Irsai Olivér, Italian Riesling, Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc.

Description: It is a wine region with great traditions, dating back to the Middle Ages. From the 18th century, cultivation on large estates, along with the wine making activities of the peasant farmers gave the wines of the region a strong reputation. The second half of the 19th century saw the development of the famous model vineyard and cellars of the Esterházy Csákvári Manor which enhanced the reputation of the region. During the past decade the modernisation of grape production has resulted in a substantial improvement of the quality of the wine produced, and a rise in the ranking of the wine region.

 

 

BADACSONY WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1590 hectares

Climate: Its climate is influenced positively by the water table of Lake Balaton. A favourable microclimate has developed especially on the protected southern, south-

western slopes of the hills for grape production. The large body of water prevents the development of extreme temperatures, and provides for a higher humidity of the air.

Soil: Varied. The slopes of the volcanic hills are covered by Pannonian clay, Pannonian sand, in some areas loess, which are increasingly mixed with basalt and basalt tuff debris.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Kéknyelű, Ottonel Muscat, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Rózsakő, Muskotály, Zeusz.

Description: From excavations there are indications that a flourishing grape culture in the vicinity of Badacsony existed some 2000 years ago. Presumably, there had already been grape plantations in the region when the Celts inhabited the area. One of the famous military routes of the Romans led to Aquincum along the foot of the hillside. Large grape plantations were commissioned by Probus Caesar. The remnants of buildings, graves, sculptures ornamented with harvest motives are reminiscent of these times. The Hungarian tribes invading the area, of what is known today as ho were already familiar with grapes and wine production, accordingly the wineyards were donated to the Church, during the 13th century. During the 18th and the 19th century the status of Badacsonyi Ürmös was comparable to Tokaji Aszú.

During the reconstruction following the devastation by Phylloxera, the technology of grape production changed substantially. Abutments, to control erosion were also erected, which were similar in construction to castle walls.

The monks of region improved the local wine made of a grape variety of French origin, Pinot gris, into something of a speciality. This is why we know this variety even today, by the name of “Szürkebarát”. In especially favourable years the berries shrink and they may even be infected by the renowned Botrytis. In such years the wine may be made into a natural dessert wine.  Another famous variety of this region is Kéknyelû. This is rarely grown in plantations devoted to the variety for it bears only female flowers, and does not fertilise well. Therefore, it is planted together with the Buda Green variety. During the harvest the grapes were not picked separately, but processed together into wine which was marketed as “Kéknyelû”.

 

 

BALATONFÜRED – CSOPAK WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 2150 hectares

Climate: The climate is similar to that of the Badacsony wine region. It is an often heard opinion in the region that the light reflected from the surface of Lake Balaton improves the quality of the grapes.

Soil: Its soils are similar to those of the Badacsony wine region; but somewhat more versatile. In this region one finds rendzina and forest soils formed on Permian red sandstone, Triassic sands stone, dolomite, Pannonian sand, crystalline slate, marl and loess. The soil is characteristically red.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Ottonel Muscat, Pinot gris, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni.

Description: During the reign of Caesar Probus it is thought greater attention was given to the practice of grape production. The ruins of the ‘villa urbana’ unearthed at Baláca- puszta originate from the 2nd-3rd century. Besides the ornaments with grape motives they depicted scenes of grape production – primarily those of harvesting.

The 18th Century was another period of development for Balatonfüred, and by the mid-19th century the town had become the “Capital” of the Balaton region. Here the celebrities of the country and of the whole of Hungary met on the occasions of balls, holidays, and for entertainment in the company of the excellent white wines of the area.

Italian Riesling is the famous variety of this wine region. It was widely introduced about a century and a half ago, and its excellent quality has turned it into a brand name. The Tihany peninsula is alsorenowned for its fiery red wines.

 

 

BALATONFELVIDÉK WINE REGION

Grapes Area: 1300 hectares

Climate: The climate and growing conditions are similar to that of the neighbouring Badacsony wine region, but not as favourable (especially in locations laying farther off from the Lake).

Soil: The soils here are similar to those of Badacsony, but they are even more varied, including rendzina formed on Pannonian clay overlaying dolomite, sand stone debris, loess and glacial sand cover, Triassic chalk, marl, Pannonian sand, clay, basalt-tuff mixture, brown forest soils with clay illuviation, brown soils, chernozem brown forest soils and barren rock and soil covered patches.

Grape varieties recommended for plantation:

Blue Frankish, Chardonnay, Cserszegi fûszeres, Furmint, Green veltelini, Italian Riesling, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Portugieser, Rizlingszilváni, Sauvignon blanc, Tramini, Zenit, Zweigelt.

Description: 2000 year old remnants of the Roman age are often encountered throughout the whole of the Lake Balaton region. In the early 14th century the Episcopacy of Veszprém already had large grape plantations here, but it is presumed, the Celts had also produced grapes in this area. For centuries the excellent wines of this region were produced on the estates of aristocratic land owners as well as the country wineries. Wines were being exported from this area to Tirol and over the Alps, to south German markets. The princely and ducal branches of the Esterházy family were the largest owners of grape plantations of the region; their estates regularly producing natural dessert wines. Their tithe-cellar built in the 18th century is still there in Szentbékkálla, in the area over the church.

 

“GOOD WINE, GOOD HEALTH”

From the Hungarian wines those from Somló and from Tokaj appear in the formularies. China jars with their names on them can be seen in the pharmacies even today. Books about the health-giving effects of wine were already written in the antiquity. It was used for the treatment of wounds, against headache and for curing gastric diseases. Hippocrates, the father of medicine considered it useful and recommended it as well. Pliny devoted a book to medicinal wines. In the Middle Ages wine was the main disinfectant. In monasteries and hospitals wine was always available for this purpose. According to cures described in the formulary of King Matthias wine was used together with medicinal herbs. The Pax corporis (the work of Ferenc Pápai Páriz) published in the XVIIth century in Transylvania recommends wine prepared with medicinal herb extract – hip, sage, anise, rosemary, elder, etc. The blood-forming and conditioning effect of the wine from Tokaj was realised abroad as well. The title of the study of Daniel Fischer, German physician, published in 1732 is “De terra medicinali Tokayensi”. Pasteur, the founder of microbiology considered wine as the healthiest drink. Wine is still recommended by physicians, first of all because of its digestion stimulating and diuretic effects and its mineral salt contents. The bactericidal effect of the polyphenols has been known for a long time. Recently medical studies about the role of red wines in the prevention of vascular diseases have been published. We must also mention the positive effect of wine on the spirit, this is illustrated by several literary and musical works.

„GUTER WEIN, GUTER GESUNDHEIT“

Von den Ungarischen Weinen kommen die Weine von Somló und von Tokaj auch in den Arzneibüchern vor. In den Apotheken sind heute noch Porzellantiegel zu sehen, auf denen ihre Namen zu lesen sind. Über die heilende Wirkung des Weins wurden schon in dem Altertum Bücher geschrieben. Er wurde zu Wundenbehandlung, gegen Kopfschmerzen und zur Heilung von Magenbeschwerden gebraucht. Hippokrates, der Vater der medizinischen Wissenschaften, bewertete ihn als nützlich und empfahl ihn. Plinius widmete den Medizinalweinen ein Buch. In dem Mittelalter war der Wein das wichtigste Desinfizierungsmittel. In Klostern und Krankenhäusern wurde zu diesem Zweck immer Wein gehalten. Laut der in dem Kräuterbuch von König Matthias beschriebenen Kuren wurde der Wein gemeinsam mit Heilkräutern verwendet. Auch das im XVII. Jahrhundert in Siebenbürgen erschienene Buch, Pax corporis (die Arbeit von Ferenc Pápai Páriz) empfiehlt mit Heilkräuter-Extrakt – Hagebutte, Salbei, Anis, Rosmarin, Holunder, usw. – gemachten Wein. Die bluterzeugende und konditionserhaltende Wirkung des Tokajer Weins wurde auch im Ausland erkannt. Die in 1732 erschienene Studie von Daniel Fischer, Deutschem Arzt, trägt den Titel „De terra medicinali Tokayensi“. Pasteur, der Begründer der Mikrobiologie hielt den Wein für das gesundeste Getränk. Die Ärzte empfehlen den Weinkonsum bis zum heutigen Tag, unter anderem wegen seiner verdauungsanregende und harntreibende Wirkung sowie wegen seines Mineralstoffgehalts. Die bakterizide Wirkung der Poliphenole ist seit langem bekannt. Neuerdings erscheinen medizinische Publikationen – vor allem – über die Rolle der Rotweine in der Vorbeugung der Gefäßsystem-Erkrankungen. Die positive Wirkung des Weines auf die Seele kann auch nicht unerwähnt bleiben, dies bestätigen zahlreiche literarische und musikalische Werke.

 

“WINE IS THE VITALISER OF THE MUSCLES, THE STIMULATOR OF THE SPIRIT”
(Brillat-Savarin)

According to the people of the antiquity, wine is the nutriment of the body and the soul: “Bread and wine form the strength of man” – the saying of the antiquity says. The heroes of Homer lived on bread dipped in wine for a long time, and this provided them with enough energy for long. Wine contains substances that can be assimilated easily: sugars, acids, glycerine, tannins, esters, aldehydes, proteins, amino-acids, vitamins, salts.
The glucose in wine can be useful as a source of energy. The acids – tartaric acid, malic acid, citric acid, succin acid – help digestion, mainly by decomposing carbohydrates and fats. Tannins are mycoderm-astringents, they reduce intestinal hyperactivity. Wine contains vitamins: A-provitamins, B-vitamins, C-vitamin, and trace elements: iron, calcium, etc. The glycerine contents improves the fat- and nitrogen household of the organism. Wine can also be considered as nutriment-complement as 1 litre wine of 10 degrees contains 3000 kJ.

„DER WEIN IST DER STÄRKER DER MUSKELN UND DER ANREGER DES GEISTES“
(Brillat-Savarin)

Die Menschen des Altertums waren der Meinung, dass der Wein Nahrung für den Körper und den Geist ist: „Das Brot und der Wein bilden die Kraft des Menschen“ – lautet der Spruch aus dem Altertum. Die Helden von Homer haben sich lange Zeit lang mit in Wein getunktem Brot ernährt und das versah sie für eine lange Zeit mit genügend Energie. Der Wein enthält Stoffe, die leicht zu assimilieren sind: Zucker, Säuren, Glyzerin, Gerbstoff, Ester, Aldehyde, Eiweiße, Aminosäuren, Vitamine, Salze. Der Traubenzucker im Wein kann auch als Energiequelle nützlich sein. Die Säuren – Weinsteinsäure, Apfelsäure, Zitronensäure, Bernsteinsäure – sind bei der Verdauung behilflich, vor allem bei dem Abbauen von Kohlenhydraten und Fetten. Die Tannine sind von schleimhautzusammenziehender Wirkung, sie vermindern die gesteigerte Darmbewegung. Der Wein enthält Vitamine: A-Provitamin, B-Vitamine, C-Vitamin, sowie Spurelemente: Eisen, Kalzium, usw. Der Glyzeringehalt verbessert den Fett- und Nitrogenhaushalt von dem Organismus. Der Wein kann auch als Nahrungsergänzung gebraucht werden, da 1 Liter von 10 Grad 3000 kJ enthält.

 

“THAT WHO TURNS WINE INTO RIDICULE, WILL BE TREATED BY WINE IN THE SAME WAY.”

Moderation must be known, when drinking wine just as well as in other matters of life. It is not by chance that it had been written on the wall of the oracle of Delphi in the antiquity: “Know yourself and be moderate.” Aristotle formulated moderation: “… the first cup is for health, the second for high spirits, the third for bitterness, the fourth for immoderateness!”

“WER DEN WEIN ZUSCHANDEN MACHT, MIT DEM TREIBT DER WEIN DASSELBE.”

Man soll das Maß kennen – beim Weintrinken ebenso, wie in anderen Angelegenheiten des Lebens. Es ist nicht zufällig an die Wand des Orakels von Delphi im Altertum geschrieben worden: „Lerne dich selbst kennen und sei enthaltsam.“ Aristoteles hat auch das Maß formuliert: „…der erste Becher gehört der Gesundheit, der zweite der Heiterkeit, der dritte der Bitterheit, der vierte der Maßlosigkeit!“

 

General Rules of the Harmony of Wines and Dishes

…Wines, Dishes, Colours and Flavours…

The perception and assessment of flavours, bouquets and aromas is governed by the combined effects of complex physical, physiological, psychological, emotional, symbolic and cultural factors. Age, sex, health, the effect of the environment (season, temperature, light conditions, noise, humidity, other smells, colours), the atmosphere and decoration of the environment, general conditions, mood, individual responsiveness to flavours, the psychological effects of colours, the behaviour of people, the emotional influence of symbolic values all play an important role. All these factors must be considered in creating the proper harmony of flavours of wines and foods. This is how we can apply the general rules that
– promote the harmony of flavours
– make the combination of dishes and wines an adventure and a playful, friendly and cultural pastime. Creating the harmony of flavours between wines and dishes is a pleasant task. It is a game with flavours, memories and experiences. Wines appear to have richer flavours if consumed during meals. The pleasant flavours of a perfectly prepared dish can be totally ruined by a bad choice of wine. Let us imagine, for instance, that we are eating carefully steamed, fresh zander, and drinking a red wine of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, matured in new oak casks, with high tannin content. The wine will completely ruin the tender, fine and fresh flavours of the fish. Essentially, wine is the final element in achieving gastronomic perfection. The talent of master chefs or the person “responsible” for family meals provides the first part of the gastronomic perfection, which is complemented and crowned by the harmonising capacity of the selected wine.  The wine can enhance the perfection of perfectly prepared dishes. Basic principles of flavour combination There are two fundamentally flavour-related rules of achieving the harmony of wines and foods:
– firstly, the rule of the harmonic combination of similar flavours,
– secondly, the rule of the harmonic supplementation of contrasting flavours.
To achieve the harmony of similar flavours, sour dishes should be combined with more acidic wines, while more sweet dishes with wines with higher sugar content. To supplement contrasting tastes, contrasting flavours should be juxtaposed – sweet-salty, sweet-sour, sweet-bitter – in such a manner as to achieve a new, complex, harmonious flavour.

 

SPARKLING WINES

Champagne production was only possible after the invention of cork stops. Fermenting wine was filled into the bottle and the carbon dioxide arising until the end of fermentation remained in the bottle. The lees was removed in a way, that a big part of the carbon dioxide remained. Father (Dom) Perignon, the cellarman of the Abbey of the St. Benedictine order in Hautvilliers was the first to make champagne in the period between 1670 and 1715. From here – in spite of heavy secrecy – it spread soon, in the XVIIIth century it was already known in many places. By the XIXth century champagne was produced all over Europe.
In Hungary Esch and Co. (1833), Littke from Pécs (1876), and from the eighties of the past century Törley from Budafok (1882) were the first to deal with champagne production. József Törley (1857-1909) was a man with good sense for technology and aptitude for the new. In Reims he worked for the Roederer and later for the Delbeck plants. He founded his own champagne factory in France, which was moved to Promontor (Budafok) in 1882. His factory was run by a foreman of French origin, a certain Louis François. First wines from Promontor, Sashegy, and later from Etyek were used as base wines. The François brothers – Louis and César – founded an own factory in 1886, and they introduced their champagne at the Millennium-exhibition in 1896. In the period between the two world wars 18 companies were active in Budafok. In the course of nationalisation (1950) the champagne factory Hungária was established. Later on new factories were founded all over the country: in the towns Pécs, Hosszúhegy, Izsák, Kiskunhalas, Kecskemét, Balatonboglár. In the eighties Hungarovin bought the right of name usage and the technology from the François family. Since then Hungária has been producing Törley and François sparkling wines.

SEKT

Die Sektherstellung ist erst nach der Erfindung des Korkpfropfens möglich geworden. Es wurde Wein unter Gärung in eine Flasche gefüllt und das bis zum Ende der Gärung entwickelte Kohlendioxid ist in der Flasche geblieben. Die Hefe wurde so entfernt, dass ein Großteil des Kohlendioxids erhalten blieb. Der Kellermeister der Benediktinerabtei zu Hautvilliers – Pater Perignon – war der erste, der Sekt hergestellt hat, irgendwann um 1650-1715. Von hier aus wurde er, trotz der großen Geheimhaltung, schnell verbreitet, bereits im XVIII. Jahrhundert war er vielerorts bekannt. Im XIX. Jahrhundert wurde schon überall in Europa Sekt hergestellt.
In Ungarn waren Esch und Co. (1833), Littke aus Pécs (1876), und ab den achtziger Jahren des XIX. Jahrhunderts Törley aus Budafok die ersten, die sich mit Sektherstellung beschäftigten. József Törley (1857-1909) war ein Mensch mit  gutem technischen Gefühl und für neue Eindrücke empfänglich. In Reims arbeitete er  zunächst bei der Roederer, später bei der Delbeck Fabrik.Er gründete seine eigene Sektfabrik in Frankreich, die in 1882 nach Promontor (Budafok) übersiedelt wurde. Sein Werk wurde von einem Werkmeister französischer Herkunft, einem gewissen Louis François geleitet. Als Grundweine wurden zunächst Weine von Promontor und Sashegy und dann später Weine von Etyek verwendet. Die Gebrüder François – Louis und César – gründeten 1886 eine eigene Fabrik und ihr Sekt wurde an der Millenniumsausstellung in 1896 vorgestellt. In der Periode zwischen den Weltkriegen wirkten in Budafok 18 Firmen. Während der Verstaatlichung (1950) wurde die Sektfabrik Hungária auf die Beine gestellt. Späterhin wurden landesweit neue Fabriken gegründet: in den Städten Pécs, Hosszúhegy, Izsák, Kiskunhalas, Kecskemét und Balatonboglár. In den achtziger Jahren hat Hungarovin das Recht des Namensgebrauchs und die Technologie von der Familie François gekauft. Seitdem stellt Hungária Törley und François Sekte her.