Wine has been made in Hungary since Roman times, and it’s one of the biggest producers in Europe – in fact, more wine is made there than in Austria, Greece or Bulgaria.
Hungary’s biggest vinous contribution is undoubtedly Tokaji, that noble sweet wine that rivals Sauternes as the finest in the world, and was once described by Louis XIV as the ‘wine of kings, king of wines’.
Tokaji continues to wow sweet-toothed palates, but the past decade has seen a big focus on Hungarian dry whites, particularly those made with the Furmint grape. Furmint is something of a star in waiting in the wine world – it’s an incredibly versatile grape, with the potential for razor-sharp, vibrantly acidic wines that mimic the best Riesling, but also rich, buttery versions that will please lovers of white Burgundy.
There’s renewed interest in the reds, too, such as Kékfrankos, which is not only of Hungary’s most planted grapes, but works as a supporting partner in red blends, as well as a straight varietal in its own right.
But there’s no doubt that Hungary’s white wines are leading the charge – claiming all three IWSC Gold medals awarded to the country’s wines. Two of the three come from the acclaimed Mád winery, a modern estate in the heart of the Tokaji region. Its Dry by Tokaj 2017 scored 95/100pts and drew praise for its aromas of flint, flowers, nuts and herbal notes, balanced on a palate of grapefruit, grass and melon; while One 2018, made with 100% Furmint, won plaudits for its ‘beautiful purity and minerality’ and ‘salty, nutty tang’.
Other exciting varieties to look out for include Juhfark, a mineral-driven, citrussy variety that excels when planted on the volcanic soils of the Nagy Somló region in the west of the country; Hárslevelü, a great blending partner for Furmint, adding aroma and perfume; and red variety Kadarka, a light, elegant grape reminiscent of Pinot Noir.
Every wine in the Hungary category was divided up into colour/type, and were judged blind by an expert panel led by Masters of Wine Sarah Abbott and Alistair Cooper. Master Sommeliers Matteo Montone and Svetoslav Manolev were also part of the IWSC Hungary panel, along with Ocado buying manager Joseph Arthur and wine educator Julie Dupouy.
Hungarian wine has a long, illustrious history, but it’s still off the radar of quite a few wine drinkers, so remedy that and take your pick from our list of the top Hungarian wines to try.
8 of the best Hungarian wines
- Mád, One 2018, Tokaj; 96/100
- Balassa Bor, Szent Tamás Furmint 2018; 95/100
- Royal Tokaji, 6 Puttunyos Aszú; 2017 92/100
- Törley, Chardonnay Brut NV; 91/100
- Gold Brut NV, Frittmann Winery; 90/100
- Csányi Pinceszet, Chateau Teleki Villány 2017; 87/100
- Tokajicum Borház, Hárslevelu 2019; 87/100
- Valamo Monastery Distillery, Xo Church Wine NV; 87/100
How do we judge these wines?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these wines?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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