“We wine geeks get our kicks from scarce grapes of which tiny amounts are grown, but sometimes so excited are we that we forget to consider whether the grape in question is any good or not,“ writes Budapest-based wine journalist Robert Smyth in the Budapest Business Journal after attending a wine tasting event held at the Hungarian National Museum.
But some indigenous grape varieties are truly exciting:
Imre Szakacs-Orha, an ethnic Hungarian himself, held an exciting masterclass on the Fetească Neagră grape, known in Hungary as Fekete Leányka, but it’s difficult to find. He showed a broad selection of wines made exclusively from the grape, coming from far and wide across Romania. This ancient variety is thought to originate from around the village of Uricani in the Prut River valley in Iasi county, in the historical region of Moldavia.
One of the most exciting offerings, for my money, came from an ethnic Magyar – Géza Balla, with his Sziklabor 2015. It was elegant and smooth but also deep, spicy and earthy with delicious black fruit. I recall visiting the winery, which is located in the Minis (Ménes in Hungarian) wine region, near Arad, not far from the Hungarian border, when Balla was waiting for his first harvest of the grape. It has turned out to be a great decision to plant it in the granite- and diorite-based soils.
Balla Géza farms around 120 hectares on the Western foothills of the Southern Carpathians in Romania, focusing on traditional grapes from the region such as Fetească Regală, Mustoasa de Măderat, Kadarka, Burgund Mare (aka Kékfrankos), and Fetească Neagră. The soils are granite, diorite, and mudstone, and the climate is strongly influenced by the River Mureș. His Fetească Neagră (it means “black girl” in Romanian) is naturally fermented with intensively fruity and spicy flavors, a lively acidity and round tannins.
A lovely girl indeed that you can find here.
And here’s Robert Smyth’s article: Tales of Basalt and the Carpathian Basin