Top 3 Sauvignon Blanc wines from where you would not expect

The last edition of Concours Mondial du Sauvignon took place in Bordeaux, of 3-4 March 2017. None of medal winners came from Hungary. In fact no Hungarian winery entered wines into the the prestigious Sauvignon Blanc contest. In other international wine contests you will find quite a good number of Hungarian medal winners, however, none of them are Sauvignon Blancs wines. Why? Aren’t there any Sauvignon vineyards?

Almost 1000 hectares

“Sauvignon the wine is typically high in acidity with a range of aromas generally associated with things green – grass, leaves, nettles and gooseberries – provided the grapes are picked early enough. ‘Cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush’ became a popular description of the aroma of some early-picked Sauvignon in the late twentieth century. The wine produced by overripe grapes, on the other hand, can be relatively dull.” Excerpt From: Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz, “Wine Grapes”. This popular white grape is one of the most planted grape around the world, the third most planted white grape in France. In Hungary Sauvignon Blanc has been an official grape since only 1982. Almost 1000 hectares are grown all over the country except from Somló (even in Tokaj region, though it is not official there.) The most plantations are in Mátra region, the second is Eger region, then the third is Etyek–Buda wine region with its limestone – the best for Sauvignon Blanc. Most of them are cold fermented, vinified in stainless steel – adjusted to the world trend.

So what’s the problem?

Hungary’s leading wine magazine, VinCE Magazine has just released its latest issue with a Sauvignon Blanc panel tasting. The experts of the panel agreed that while New Word Sauvigon Blanc wines expressed the merits of the variety, many local ones lacked aromas and acidity, were correct, but dull. István Osváth said that it would be wise to revise with regions are suitable for the variety (in fact many southern wines entered the tasting, e.g. from Villány with not much result). Another expert, Csaba Harmath mentioned screwcap: „It is not enough to use screwcap, winemakers should learn about screwcap with all its characteristics and influence on the wines.”

However, there are diamonds!

After the winner wines from New Zealand and one from France, the two best ones (with equal scores) of Hungarian Sauvignon wines comes from Etyek, the lime soiled cool, northern region near the capital. And we will also intruduce another beautiful Sauvignon from among the top Hungarian wines of the panel tasting from a less mentioned northern region, Pannonhalma.

16.25   Etyeki Kúria Sauvignon Blanc, Etyek, 2016

Greenish white colour. Medium intensity lovely nose with tropical fruits, citrus aromas, white flowers. Vivid on the palate with ripened flavours, tropical notes. Fresh acidity. Well made, beautiful, typical Sauvignon Blanc.

16.25   Haraszthy Sauvignon Blanc, Etyek, 2016

Pale green colour. Fresh, stunning nose with citrus aromas, green herbs, nettle and a touch of basil – typical of the grape. Complex, rich, lovely green apple and white fruits. Slightly elevated acidity, which makes it a little wild, but tempting!

14.90   Pannonhalmi Sauvignon Blanc, Babarczi Estate, Pannonhalma, 2016

This wine divided the jury, we agree with the ones who liked it very much. Lemon colour with a pinkish shade. Citrus, gooseberry, nettle and green apple ont he nose. Vivid wine with slightly elevated acidity and a little residual sugar.

So there IS potential in Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc production, maybe next year Concours Mondial du Sauvignon (March 2018, Graz, Austria) Hungarian medal winners will shine as well, and till then here is an interesting article to help make better Sauvignon Blanc wines. Aroma is a very significant quality factor for food but for wine, it is probably the character that has the greatest influence on quality. Professor Roberto Zironi explains how wood maturation can be used to preserve aromas in Sauvignon

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