Hungarian Wine

Esoterica – Y126 and Y127

Why Hungary?

Hungary has one of the oldest viticulture in Europe – although most grape wines are presumed to be introduced to the fertile lands that lay along both sides of the Danube by the Roman conquerors, Hungarian language testifies to an even more ancient tradition. The Hungarian word for wine is the only one in Europe that does not derive from the Latin ‘vino’,  proving that ‘bor’ (the Hungarian word for wine) was made by this nation even before the Roman times.

A volcanic-terroir hotspot: Hungary’s continental climate is ideal for wine growing. Two thirds of the country lies on volcanic soil (do you know about Hungary’s natural spa-springs?).

Indigenous keen: Hungarian growers (and consumers) are keen on their indigenous varietals, making Hungarian Wines even more exciting.  Phylloxera devastated the vineyards here as anywhere else on the continent. When renewing the vineyards, well known world varietals were introduced in fair number. You will find your usual merlot, cabernets and pinots here, even if combined with the local soil, these grapes may surprise you once they are turned into wine.

Furmint, Irsai Oliver, Juhfark, Kadarka, Kekfrankos are just a few local grapes that are fast becoming popular, raising the interest of both sommeliers and wine experts seeking the unusual.



1.30 pm – On-Trade Industry Briefing & Power Tasting: Hungarian Wines
with Caroline Gilby MW and Peter McCombie MW

This short session for on-trade has a strong commercial focus and attempts to squeeze in the most important information that you will need to know about Hungarian wines. Peter McCombie MW is a consultant to the restaurant and hotel trade and has worked with some of the top names in the London restaurant and hotel scene, as he says “While I always listen to my clients, I’m really trying to impress their customers – I want my wine lists to be commercially successful.”
Caroline Gilby MW has been specialising in Hungarian wines for over 20 years.
Session time: 20 mins

16.30 pm – Off-Trade Industry Briefing & Power Tasting: Hungarian Wines
with Caroline Gilby MW and Peter McCombie MW

How to eliminate the risk of launching a new product? How to choose the best supplier to work with in Hungary? What varietals to look out for?
Session time: 20 mins


11.45 pm – Volcanic Wines: Salt, grit and power – Book Signing.

Bring your copy for John to sign or buy them from John Szabo MS. Session with John Szabo MS

1.30 pm – Why put Hungarian wines on your lists?
Is the UK costumer ready for Hungarian wines? ‘There is probably more Hungarian wine sold in the UK than most consumers or trade are aware of.”
with Caroline Gilby MW


2.00 pm – Industry Briefing & Vertical Tasting: Juhfark – Hungarian Wines for Sommeliers
Sing up for training to be held on Hungarian wine at your restaurant or wine shop: at this seminar you will have the opportunity to book in Peter to visit your restaurant for staff training on Hungarian wine.
Peter McCombie MW is a consultant to the restaurant and hotel trade and has worked with some of the top names in the London restaurant and hotel scene, as he says “While I always listen to my clients, I’m really trying to impress their customers – I want my wine lists to be commercially successful.” with Peter McCombie MW


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Meet the winemakers

Kovacs Nimrod, Vivien Ujvari (Barta), Erhard Heumann and Vica Necula (Balla Geza).

Participating wineries

UK Focus: This producer already supplies The Ledbury, and Budapest’s Michelin Star restaurants. So if you are an on-trade buyer or a supplier to the on-trade, this producer could be your starting point at Esoterica. Their other site in the Matra called Nagygombos also produces good quality rosés at 2 euros which are suitable for supermarkets/major groups.
In brief: As well as specialising in dry furmint wines, they also make great value rosé and Harslevelu, from their vineyard in Nagygombos.

GEZA BALLA (Arad, Transylvania):
In brief: Discover something very unusual from the old part of Hungary, Transylvania. From Geza Balla, a Hungarian winemaker in Romaina, with some grapes which grow on rocks, and a mineral ‘Stone Wine’ from Cab Franc and a Romanian indigenous grape, Feteasca Neagra. Balla also makes a lovely indigenous Kadarka, and Furmint, of course.
Geza Balla produces some extremely well reviewed wines by Jancis Robinson.

UK Focus: Currently supplying Vagabond wines and is looking for bigger UK distribution.
In brief: One of the highest vineyard sites in Hungary, this producer has just been awarded the ‘Most Successfully Winery of 2016’ by the Hungarian Circle of Wine Writers and they also hold the prestigious 2014 and 2015 Hungarian Winery of the Year awards.

UK Focus: Ideally suited to the independent sector and on-trade
In brief: The stylishly labelled, Soul, Rhapsody and Blues are the wines inspired by Nimrod’s love of jazz: these wines have a modern touch with a minerality gained from the local volcanic soils. Pinot, Syrah and Chardonnay are planted in homage to Nimrod’s affinity to Burgundy and N Rhône, whilst his indigenous varieties are a great introduction to traditional Hungarian wines.

Heumann (Villány):
UK Focus: These wines are already doing well in The Wine Society so the producer is looking for someone to help them grow in other sectors.
In brief: If you want to taste richness, fruit and complexity then go no further. Recently featured in The Drinks Business as one of the best terroir focused Villány wineries. The success of Cabernet Franc in Villány has led to the variety being branded Villány Franc.

GERE (Villány):
In brief: From a small vineyard given as wedding gift in the 70’s to a thriving 50 acre vineyard, this legendary producer has created a successful and highly respected wine business, one that any UK importer would be proud to represent.
GERE is one of the best terrior focussed wineries in Villany, according to The Drinks Business.

CSANYI (Villány):
In brief: One of the largest winery in Hungary and certanliy the biggest winery in the Villány region with 350 acres. In 1854 the founder of Csanyi was to be the saviour of the European wine industry when he discovered how to graft vines onto American rootstock to produce phylloxera free vines.

If you would like to meet the Csanyi team at LWF, you can email them here and book a private tasting.

See a recent review about Cabernet Francs in Villany from the Mid Sussex Times.

Zsirai Winery
Described as ‘Creation, attention, thoroughness, values, preservation, preservance, love, joy, beauty, charm, simplicity, sensitivity, sensibility, uniqueness’ (Csaba Zsirai, 1961-2011) Petra and Kata said, ” Our beloved father raised us along these principles, and he established the Zsirai Winery based on them. These are the values we follow while fulfilling his dream and his legacy.’ Source: Zsirai Winery

Tornai Winery
‘The Tornai family has been dealing with winemaking since 1946 on Mt. Somló
The Mt. Somló, a mountain that rises sharply out of the flat area. Endre Tornai, the founder, started viniculture and winemaking on a one-acre vineyard. Today the land measures 54 acres and it is the third generation now that is engaged in the everyday tasks of the wine-cellar.’ Source: Tornai Winery

Kolonics Winery
Mr Karoly Kolonics from this 4-generations-old family cellar is best known for its loyalty to historical Somlo traditions. His wines are matured in wooden barrels, come from yield-controlled vines and all have that distinct “Somlo-ey” taste that sets these wines apart from any other in the World.

The J+J Eger Wine Co.
The J+J Eger Wine Co. was founded in 2004 by John Szabo Canadian-Hungarian master sommelier and Dr. Janos Stumpf, Eger winegrower. János and John’s expectations are selected for bottling under the J+J label. Depending on the year, one or more cuvées are crafted to highlight exceptionally performing parcels of the region’s volcanic tufa and/or limestone soils.

Wines of Hungary

At Wines of Hungary it is our job to support the producers and support the UK wine professionals and trade.

We work with Hungary’s best and most innovative winemakers to ensure we select the best wines and vintages. We also work with the most reliable distribution and channel partners to make certain we deliver excellent service.

Our portfolio is screened and selected by two Master of Wines who have been working with Hungary for decades, Elizabeth Gabay MW and Caroline Gilby MW. We aim to pass on the knowledge and expertise they have built up in Hungarian wine in all those years.

Based permanently in London, we work closely with Hungarian wineries who want to establish relationships with UK wine trade, and we help to facilitate those goals. Wines of Hungary creates the link between Hungarian and the UK wine world and we inform you about the latest developments in Hungarian wine.

We now are launching a portfolio availble for on-trade.

#govolcanic project

This joint initiative between a UK wine merchant Witness Mountain Wines, and 11 Hungarian wine growers aims to promote, introduce, and ultimately: sell small production,  high quality wines that come from some of Hungary’s oldest, most extreme, volcanic appellations.
The project primarily targets top hotels and restaurants.
The merchant company is called ‘Witness Mountain’ after the Hungarian name for some spectacular-looking hills that used to be underwater volcanoes but now are home to some of the world’s unique, undiscovered wines.