The Balatonfüred – Csopak Wine-District
The Balatonfüred – Csopak regiont is one of the outstanding wine-districts of Hungary, where wine-growing and wine-making has a history of more than two thousand years. The first written records on wine-growing here are the very first to record the beginnings of wine-growing in Hungary.
This historic district lies on the north-east of Lake Balaton, on the sides of the mountains which run parallel with the lake and in the valleys and basins sorrounded by these mountains. The Balatonfüred district gained more importance when it became the property of the Tihany abbacy. Due to the devotion of the priests and monks the level of wine-growing and wine-making was raised to much higher levels than in other districts. Turkish invasion halted the development but a great renewal came again in the 18-th century. And by the middle of 19-th century Balatonfüred became the most important town at Lake Balaton where distinguished people met one another at balls and feasts and enjoyed the excellent white wines here. Balatonfüred is still the centre of the wine district and the town was nominated to be the „International Town of Grapes and Wine” from 1987.
The climate of this area is even, lacks extremities. Realatively mild winter is followed by early spring, summer is usually quite long but not too hot and autumn is generally long, bright and dry. Medium temperature of the year is around 10 degrees Celsius: and the number of sunny hours rises above two thousand. The huge surface of the lake works as a great mirror, multiplies sunrays and has an advantegous effect: this way Mediterranean micro-climate prevails here around the lake.
The soil of this wine-district is really verified. There are soils created on phyllite-slate, Permian red sandstone, Triassic limestone, dolomite, basalt, basalt tuff, but you can also find rendzina soils and forest soils grown on Pannonic clay and sand, marl and loess. The striking red colour characterizes mainly Balatonfüred and its sorroundings, this indicates the high iron oxide content inside the Permian sandstone.
Grapes and wine
There are many different types of grapes grown on the varied soil of the Balatonfüred – Csopak wine-district. Some are grown in higher quantities others are kept only as curiosities or as an experience. Excellent quality grapes grow in the south and south-east vineyards on the slopes overlooking Lake Balaton. This is mainly due to the ample light and heat provided by the lake that fosters winegrowing. First and foremost white winegrapes were planted but several wineries, especially those around Tihany grow red grapes that give truly delicious wines.
Traditionally there are two types of wine styles in this region. The wines around Balatonfüred and its sorroundings are fuller bodied, more fiery with higher extract content and alcohol levels while those around Csopak are more reserved with very fine scent and flavours.
This type of wine is grown here in the greatest quantities. It is not of Hungarian origin, probably comes from France, nevertheless it became the traditional wine of this district. This type is very fruitful because it relishes in the climate here, survives harsher conditions and it is not choosy as far as the soil is concerned. We can find it in many different variations: Italian riesling can be made into ordinary base wines or wonderful vineyard sortings full of almond flavours.
This grape is of French origin, coming from the Pinot family: a close relative to Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. It arrived in Hungary in the 13-th century and found warm welcome in this region. This grape gives mellow, harmonious white wine which is savoury and rich in flavours. Its beauty and youthful zest is most enjoyable as a dry wine but it compiles outstanding batches as sweet wine, too.
It belongs to the muscatel family and it is the noblest among the four types. It is one of the most ancient vinegrapes. There are many different yellow muscatel vinegrape variations but it is also quite popular as table grape, often made into juices and raisins. Its greenish yellow colour, its taste and flavour is very characteristic. Muscatel is mainly the ladies’ favourite, but its ingratiating sharpness and flavour is appreciated by men, too.
Another very high-born representative of the muscatel family. Mid-sized grapes consist of very small berries, and they contain average amount of sugar and very little acid. It can be made into a very high prestige wine due to the intensity and high concentration of its aromas. Dry and sweet types are both popular. Dry ottonel’s characteristic odour resembles orange blossoms, spices and elderberry while sweet ottonel reminds people of peaches.
It is a noble type of French origin. Its nice wines are usually made using reductive methods, though we might sometimes find wines matured in barrels, and even barrique types nowadays. The one and only among the world brands that counts to be an aromatic white wine. Vivid acids characterize this wine beside its lighter or average body. Sauvignon Blanc can be easily identified: it has flavours resembling elderberry, grass, nettle and hay with delicate acids.
Chardonnay is one of the best-known vinegrapes of the world. This duly famous and popular type is a true favourite of the customers and growers as well, as it adapts to circumstances really well. Chardonnay wine is rich and strong. The odour resembles green apple and sometimes has a smoky feel. Its aromatic features are: ripe honeydew melon, honey. Aged wines have a certain buttery feel. Very elegant wines can be made from the grapes, they can be kept for long as they age well indeed.
This is a savoury type with nice odours. The stum tastes pleasant with low acidity and very high sugar content in better vintage years. The odours are defined with characteristic rose and lychee features. The wine is a golden yellow colour with spicy taste and nice scents, harmonious, delicate acids and high extract. Tramini is nicer when dry, not so good as sweet wine. If a hasty reductive procedure is applied a quickly maturing, full-bodied wine can be made with high sugar content, fruit-like odours and flavours.
It is one of the outstanding results in Hungarian white wine breeding in the twentieth century. Due to its numerous advantageous features this wine is very popular. The grapes ripen early, they can be harvested in the first half of September with a reliably high stum content. The wine is rich in odours and flavours in most years, the acids are gentle, delicate and harmonious. Zenith suits the Hungarian palate and milieu really well.
Merlot is a world brand of French origin. Its wine is deep red, mellow with unique rich flavours and great taste, has velvety acidity and matures in a quick way. Its characteristics show great variations depending on the area and the climate. All categories are made from plain, somewhat jamlike wines to specially matured dense red wines. It keeps long, sometimes has an excellent quality even when it is 10 –15 years old. Merlot is often blended with Cabernet types.
It is a world brand. This wine is excellent with unique characteristics, multi-tiered. It has deeep red colour and remarkable extract with vivid tannins. Red berries appear in its odour – mainly raspberry, cherry, plum and strawberry, and pepper-like spiciness caharacterizes it with long-lasting savour. Maturation in oak-barrels enriches it with unique features: vanilla, coconut, tobacco and pleasant smoky aromas appear: the ripening wine’s acids get more refined.
One of the best-known and widest-grown red grapes in the world. Its fame is due to the popularity of the classic Bordeaux blending, when Cabernet Sauvignon is mixed with Cabernet Franc and Merlot types. It is popular partly because it is easy to grow, and because its wine is well-structured and has an easily recognizable character. The wine can be matured long: its features are determined by the fermentation process, and the aromatic ingredients of the alcohol and the wood.