As it was reported on the 11 October, some winemakers are keen on changing the tradition and introduce a name that sounds unique, and its meaning is adequate regarding the grape variety. Out of more then 50 suggestions three names are still in contest: Oris, Nemes and Mandola.
Anders Levander Swedish wine writer, owner of Sweden’s most popular online wine journal DinVinguide lives in Italy, agrees with the change and he cites Italian examples to prove that the decision is right. ‘Think of Prosecco – the grape has been renamed, now it’s Glera, and it avoids confusion since now Prosecco always refers to the origin protected sparkling wine made of Glera, while Glera is also used for still wine. Another good example of renaming involves Hungary – as Levander pointed out –, the grape Tocai Friulano had to be changed as a consequence of EU decision (to protect Hungarian wines from Tokaj), and it took less then two years for the world to get used to Friulano wines from North Italian Friuli wine region. Tokay Pinot Gris in Alsace is the same thing: today there’s no problem naming it Pinot Gris without the prefix.”
Elizabeth Gabay MW is a frequent speaker in Hungary and thus she is specialized in Hungarian grape varieties. ‘Well my first reaction was that it was a waste of time changing names – it would just confuse people even more. But on reflection I think the benefits would outweigh the disadvantages. Right now it is always necessary to explain that the variety is neither Italian or related to Riesling. Tasters who do not know this, search for characters which are not there. Plus the name gives no idea of any Hungarian character.’ And as for the name options, she has her own favourite: ‘I am not too keen on Oris, sounds like some made up hybrid, but like both Nemes and Mandola, so why not both: Nemes Mandola – the noble almond – sounds nice and is easy to say for non-Hungarians.’
A local winemaker, Endre Szászi, owner of the organic wine estate in Badacsony wine region, North of Lake Balaton disagrees with the renaming: ‘In my opinion if we want to make the world outside the Carpathian basin know about our flagship grape variety, we shouldn’t start it with introducing a totally new name. The market has accepted more complicated names then Olaszrizling, and besides in foreign languages the word Olasz is not associated with Italy (and neither is ‘nemes’ associated with the word ‘noble’. I think we should place the emphasis on the unique character of the wine, present and introduce the wine to wider audience, but first of all Hungary should put emphasis on wine marketing. And we must not forget about reality: 90% of Olaszrizling wines are sold within Hungary, Hungarian speaking regions. We have had this variety for 180 years, we celebrate it as a ‘hungaricum’. Others would cherish it as treasure with such a long history.’