Report from the 22nd Budapest International Wine Festival – Part 1

After a 3 years absence due to my business commitments in the United Kingdom I have had a chance to visit the 22nd International Wine Festival in Budapest at the Buda Castle (Budai Vár) this September. I tasted many wines but let’s see the facts by numbers.

  • 82 wines
  • 13 wineries
  • 9 regions
  • 2 days

that’s all I tasted in 2 days. The event usually lasts for 5 days but I had only 2 days. As you can see from the numbers I was very busy and many of these wines were good or excellent. Hereby I start my report with the white wines.

The first winery I would like to introduce operates in the Somló region. Somló is the smallest wine region of Hungary with a total of 690 hectares cca. I had an invitation from one of the wineries in Somló for a long time, so I started my 2 days exploration with this winery.  The winery is called Várkapitány Pincészet  (Pincészet means winery). It was founded in 2007. Wine production started on the north side of the hill at the foot of the ruins of Somló Castle with a few hectares. Now they cultivate vine on 16 hectares in total. Their vineyards can be found scattered around the Somló mountain, which makes the daily wine making more difficult, but has a positive impact on the quality of their wines. Várkapitány is the largest winery in the northern part of Somló Hill.

Várkapitány winery

Várkapitány winery

They produce white wine that’s because Somló is a white grape growing region.

Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) 2009

Their first wine I tasted. With it’s 13% alcohol you would think this is not a light easy drinking wine. And you are right. It’s a strong medium-bodied wine with a medium-dark yellow color. The wine had been matured in oak barrel for 13 months. The wine is full of floral notes and volcanic soil too. Because the wine region used to be a volcano these characters are typical in most wines produced here. Later you can discover a little bit of  animal notes in this wine which makes it extraordinary.

Juhfark (Sheep’s tail) 2008

The Juhfark (Sheep's tail) grape bunch. The Juhfark (Sheep’s tail in English) is the unique breed of Somló, which was named after the shape of grape bunch. Growing only in this region. This late harvest 2008 Juhfark had been matured in 3 and 5 thousand liter oak barrels for 12 month. Medium yellow color with notes of camembert cheese on the nose. Nice, delicate taste with cheesy notes on the palate. Unique wine with interesting characters. It’s worth to try so don’t miss the chance if it comes. This wine was one of the favorite on my tasting in October. The 13.5% alcohol indicates this is a serious wine.

Tramini 2011

Varkapitany - Tramini The characters of the region are evident in this wine. The soil, floral notes are mixed with a bit of camembert cheese on the nose. Floral and linden tree notes on the palate with a bit of oxidized notes. The wine has a light straw-yellow color thanks for its young age. Spent 10 month in barrel. It has 12.5% alcohol.

Furmint 2012

One of the main regions for this grape is Somló along with Tokaj. This Furmint is a light and bright wine. Full of floral notes, just like the meadow at spring different kind flowers circulating in our nose. Fresh on the palate despite the backbone which is mineral.


Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) 2012

Softer and lighter on the nose thanks to its young age but the character and acidity of the wine is stronger. Mostly grass, flower and lemon are on the nose and minerals with a hint of nut are on the palate. It’s a nice, well-rounded wine. A good example of this grape variety from this region.

Gál Szőlőbirtok és Pincészet (Gál Vineyard and Winery)

Wines from the Gál Winery

The Gál Vineyard and Winery is based in Szigetcsép just 25 km to South-East from Budapest. Their vineyard is part of the biggest wine region in Hungary the Kunság. It’s a family run winery. They own 95 hectares which is located in the hills of Szigetcsép, Szigetmárton and Szigetújfalu on the Csepel Island. 60 hectares of the vineyard were recently planted in the last few years. The most significant type of grapes are: Rajnai Rizling (Rhine Riesling), Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling), Szürkebarát (Pinot Gris), Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice), Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and Pinot Noir.  The family also owns 10 hectares in the Region of Balatonfelvidék.

Olasz Rizling (Italian Riesling) 2012

Gal Pince - Olasz RizlingFruity, fresh, easy drinking wine. Full of peach, pineapple and mango on the nose. Also on the palate with floral notes too. The acidity is light and well-balanced which makes this wine nice and soft. Good as an apéritif or with white meats, light salads. This is a beautiful wine. It won a silver medal at the VinAgora International Wine Challenge in 2013.

Rajnai Rizling (Rhine Riesling) 2012

The other type of Riesling. It was fermented in stainless-steel tanks. Interesting start in the nose. Sometimes fruity, sometimes flower notes are on the nose. But the fruits are more dominant. Especially grape and pear can be felt. Grape notes are dominant on the palate too.  The finish is medium and the wine is rounded with freshness and softness.

Cserszegi Fűszeres (Cserszeg Spice) 2012

The unpronounceable grape variety which bears the name of its birth place (the Commune of Cserszeg). The wine doesn’t show its character and notes for the first time. Takes time until we can smell flowers and lime with a hint of spice. Mainly floral notes are on the palate with the main attribute spiciness what the reason this wine called Spice. The carbon dioxide in the after taste just finishes this delicious wine perfectly.

Szürkebarát (Pinot Gris) 2011 (Balatonfelvidék region)

The 2 big boy! Pinot Gris on the left, Chardonnay on the right

The home of Pinot Gris! The north shore of Lake Balaton is ideal for the Pinot Gris grape so this wine. Floral notes are dominant on the nose and elderflower on the palate with a hint of vanilla thanks to the barrel ageing. The wine become velvety and soft in the mouth before we start to feel a bit of CO2 in the aftertaste. Well balanced, gorgeous wine.

Chardonnay 2011 (Balatonfelvidék region)

Chardonnay labelThe flagship of the winery! Triple champion wine! Very pale yellow color. Coconut is predominant in this wine thanks to the 12 month barrel ageing. The coconut mixes together with a little anise on the nose while on the palate coconut and floral notes can be discovered. Long and beautiful finish describe this wine. This was my favourite among all the dry white wines I tasted during the 2 days.

Cserszegi Fűszeres Nektár (Cserszeg Spice Nectar) 2012

The semi-sweet version made from the Cserszeg Spice grape. The wine doesn’t want to show its characters and notes at first. It opens slowly but once the wine starts to release its aroma we can feel fruits (apricot, pineapple) on the nose and grape on the palate.  There is a little bit of nut in the after taste. Soft and nice wine well-balanced between dry and sweet.

Late harvest Rajnai Rizling (Riesling) 2009

Gal Pince - Rajnai sweet Gold among golds. Medium dark, golden-yellow colored wine hides inside the black bottle. Beautifully sweet dried peach and plum play with each other on our nose with a bit of mango in the background. Mostly botrytis and apricot are dominant on the palate. Light acidity with a smooth, velvety texture indicates that this is a beautiful wine!