Hungarian Wine Regions

Friday, January 5th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Hungary vineyardThe Hungarian vineyards are situated in the Carpathian basin. The continental climate is prevalent, while the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the southern wine districts, the Mediterranean is also felt.

The climate between regions and across years may vary a lot as a result. Although mean annual temperature is 10.5 °C, and mean average rainfall is 600 mm, there are significant variances.Currently there are 22 wine districts in Hungary.

3 these are located on the Great Plain, between the Tisza and Danube rivers. These wine districts contain 45% of the vineyards of the country in terms of area. The other wine districts are in the Trans-Danube (15) and in Northern Hungary (4).

The size of the wine districts varies. The Somló and Mór districts are the smallest, with areas below 1,000 hectares, while the Kunság wine district is the largest, with around 38,500 hectares. Most wine districts are within the range of 1,000 and 5,000 hectares.

The major Hungarian Wine Regions are:

  • Csonjard
  • Tokaj
  • Hajos- Baja
  • Kunsag
  • Maatralja
  • Aszar- Neszmely

The winemaking process of Hungary dates back to at least during the Roman Empire, when the Romans brought the first vine-shoots to the fertile Carpathian Basin, establishing the first vineyards in Szerémség, Baranya, Tolna, the Buda Hills, and Lake Fertõ.

Although the tradition of wine production was neglected during the time when Hungary was in Communist rule, vineyards here are beginning to keep up with the standards of the Old World, re-establishing its own style of wines and a renewed pride emerging among winemakers. Along with this resurgence of wine industry in Hungary was the increase of winemaking companies, including enterprises and cooperatives.

Hungary wineries begin to export their wine to other European countries, and although they are slowly having a market for such, back at home the locals would still prefer their wines oxidized, which some astute wine tasters would compare its taste to gasoline. This is a challenge that many Hungarian winemakers face in keeping up with the latest in wine production.

Hungary makes wine out of several native grape varietals, as well as a few foreign grape varieties like Pinot Gris and Rhine Riesling. They recently begin planting known varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and it would take several decades to come up with a great wine from such. The best-known wines from the country are white dessert wine Tokay and a full-bodied red wine called "Bull’s Blood."

Among Hungary’s wine regions, the most famous would be Tokaj, which lies on the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains located far north of the country. Tokaj is known for its long warm autumns and mists that come in from the River Bodrog, thus creating perfect conditions for a noble rot.

These conditions produce shriveled grapes (called "aszú") that the region is famous for, which are harvested as late as mid-November into buckets and then crushed into paste. Varying amounts of aszú paste are then added to several types of wine and left to ferment in cellars in the soft volcanic tufa.