#WineWednesday Spotlight #160: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

“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 … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #160: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

#WineWednesday Spotlight #123: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

“There’s much more to Romanian wine than cheap Pinot,” writes wine columnist Henry Jeffreys in Food & Wine. “ The country has a wealth of indigenous grapes such as Fetească Regală and Crâmpoşie for whites, and for reds Fetească Neagră, Novac and the wonderfully named Negru de Drăgăşani (it’s pronounced something like Drer-ger-sharn which sounds like a character from Game of Thrones).” A trip to visit Romanian wineries took him to the historical city of Timișoara in Western Romania and the nearby Balla Géza Winery: Timișoara has the feel of a miniature Vienna or Budapest. The west of Romania used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and there’s still a strong Hungarian influence. Balla Géza, owner of another vineyard near the city, Princess Winery (they do love a Princess in Romania) is Hungarian. Alongside the Romanian and international varieties he grows Hungarian grapes such as the white Furmint (famous for Tokaji) and the reds Kadarka and Kekfrankos (Blaufrankisch in Austria) He was manager for the state wine company and when Communism collapsed managed to buy up the best land at very reasonable prices, he told me with a glint in his eye. Tourism is very important for him too. … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #123: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră