Green fertile hills, a Mediterranean climate and hot summers; Hungary has all the ingredients to make great wines. And guess what? They do! Internationally speaking the Hungarian wine isn’t on the map just yet, but here in Hungary you can find countless of high quality, affordable wine on the shelfs from all corners of the country. From hobbying in the garden to highly professional productions that are sold in each major market store, it almost seems like every Hungarian makes wine. They know their way around a grape and this knowledge has been passed on from generation to generation. But not only making, but also tasting! The Hungarians are a proud folk and they expect nothing but the best from their homegrown produce. And standing in the store, being able to choose from wines from all over the globe, the choice is simple; Hungarian wine it is!
If you look at the map, Hungary is divided into six wine provinces, that cover a total of 22 wine regions. Each of these regions are recognized for their unique characteristics, wine features and historical background. There are regions celebrated for their fruity whites, such as the Balaton region, desert sweets like Tokaj, or their strong reds, like the southern area named Pannon region. One of the most well-known wine hotspots in Pannon must be Villány, which is situated in the most southern point of the Hungarian wine province.
When visiting Villány, you do not only get a taste of the south, but also a beautiful view is included in the package! The town is situated in the landscape of green sloping hills, complimented with abundant vineyards as far as the eye can reach, and as you reach the town center, you are treated with everything that you expect from a wine village, and more. Villány is all about wine and the long, curvy streets embraced by wine houses on your right and left show exactly that. The wine houses are all authentic, and unique in its shapes and shutters. Most of them are small, barely big enough to fit a handful of people inside, which is why the wine tastings mainly take place in their courtyards or simply in the streets, in front of the colorful wine houses. The magic happens underground anyways, as all of these tiny houses lead to their own enormous cellar, in which they store their precious liquids.
The wine of Villány, and of its region, is famous for its tender, full-bodied red wines due to its high tannin content. It is the Villány Hills and the huge amount of sun hours that make these wines so luxuriant and exceptional. Obviously, there is no way better than tasting a sip of the south and discovering it for ourselves! This is why we booked a winetasting at the winery of Günzer Tamás, which doesn’t only get regularly nominated as best wine of the year, but also was awarded in 2019 as Winery of the Year. Additionally, it is also just a very cozy place with friendly people!
At Günzer Tamás you can order a classic winetasting, including 6 glasses of wine and some bits and bites for 3000ft. Another option is to pick your favorite from the menu, though I believe the full experience is just perfect if you want to taste the whole palette of what Villány has to offer. The tasting starts off with a light, fruity Irsai Olivér 2020, a Hungarian grape that results in a perfect light wine for a summer evening. Then we moved on to the Rosé 2020, a dry and slightly tangy wine withy a fiery color. Both of these wines are best drank fresh and young, and therefore also not stored in barrels. During the tasting, we were presented with these interesting facts stories that made the experience totally complete.
Which brings us to the start of the red wines. First in row was RedY 2019, a light red wine specifically made for the Y-generation. Second, a Syrah Classic 2018, which is very tender and pleasant wine, perfect to accompany a delightful weekend dinner. Then we enjoyed GT50 2016, an aromatic and full-bodied wine that was dedicated to the 50st birthday of Günzer Tamás himself. Birthdays, special occasions, this wine is indeed the ideal choice! Last but not least Mátyás 2017, made of Cabarnet Franc and Merlot, which was the glass of wine that impressed me most. This is a very strong, full-bodied wine with so much flavor in it that it knocks your socks off. And so does the alcohol content. The red wines are all ripened in wooden barrels, but the Mátyás wine was aged in new barrique barrels, which are small barrels built with toasted oak wood that give the wine an unique aroma. Therefore is Mátyás 2017, named after the father of Günzer Tamás, also one of the highest prestige wines of the Günzer Tamás winery.
While sipping away the sixth glass, I truly tasted the south of Hungary; the strength, the aroma and the richness of wine and nature. I do hope that one day this flavor will be available in more corners of the world, but until then, we celebrate its authenticity, right here, in the heart of Hungary. Cheers!