Hungary: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Wine labelling is mostly varietal. Hungary had a particularly rich selection of indigenous vine varieties, many of which were largely abandoned when phylloxera invaded the country’s vineyards in the late 19th century. A potentially exciting selection of localized white grape varieties can still be found, although some such as kéknyelű, found almost exclusively in Badacsony on the north shore of Lake Balaton, and juhfark, known mainly in Somló, are dangerously close to extinction.

Indigenous varieties which are relatively widely planted include ezerjó, a light speciality of the Mór region west of Budapest; furmint is the most characteristic ingredient of Tokaji; hárslevelű, which is usually a lesser Tokaji ingredient and is also widely grown throughout Hungary. The indigenous Leányka and Királyleányka are used for light-bodied aromatic wines. Newer crosses such as the Muscat-like irsai olivér and the grapey cross cserszegi fűszeres are now being more widely planted for their own intrinsic character and quality. Other light-berried crosses include zéta, zengő, zefir, and zenit. Hungary’s most characteristic red grape variety is kadarka , although portugieser (once known as Kékoportó) can also make some appetizing wines here.