by Lilla O’Connor

50 countries, 15000 wines entered makes the IWC one of the biggest wine competitions in the whole wide world. Medals do not come easy.

Wines come in flights of 5, 10, 20 at the time, all in bags of course categorised by varietal, and by country if there are enough entries for a country, they open a category.

A few Hungarian wine folks, including myself have the good fortune to judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). Whenever we get a Hungarian flight, which is unfortunately fairly rare, our eyes light up and our hearts beat faster. We start thinking about the flavours and spice of home land and look forward to taste and compare.

Hungary this year received 2 golds, 16 silvers, 14 bronzes, 17 commended medals out of XXX Hungarian wines entered. If we look at that in percentage terms that’s Gold medals were 3.3% of entries, which is close to par, (3.5% overall), Silver represents 27% (vs 17.8%) and Bronze 23% (22.5%). Overall, including Commended Awards Hungarian wines were 81% successful, which is excellent.

As to the individual wineries, I would love to emphasise, a medal is only a medal. What is at stake apart from pride? The International Wine Challenge provides a good tool for selling your wine, once you have a good agent who puts in the effort to sell your wine. For that not only the wine and the price has to be good, but you need to put in the effort too, to ensure your wines are getting tasted by many – you are building your brand on this market from scratch. There is also a need for a demand for the wider brand – Hungarian wine.

An IWC medal will do no good if you think all you have to do is wait for people to get in touch with you. It is great to be able to say that your wines have been tasted by many prestigious palates and they liked it. Hungary has great terroir, we have very skilled and creative winemakers and lovely fruit. An other thing that Hungary has is beautiful, albeit unpronounceable language, with many indigenous grapes that no-one had ever tried.

When I taste a varietal that I haven’t yet tried, even if I tried a many others and I can tell you my views about the colour, acidity, tannins, alcohol, balance, secondary and tertiary notes and so on, I can only tell you whether I like it or not. And sometimes when people try things for the first time they may not like it. The best example is coffee or, have you heard of Marmite? So the only way to get better results, therefore, is to keep trying.

In my view, many silvers mean good, sound results for Hungary. We are not outstanding yet, but why should we be, why should we expect ourselves to achieve excellence in 30 years? Competing with nations whom already have famous wines with vintages going back 100 plus years will take a little longer than the past 30 years, with a big gap prior to that. What we have achieved in those short years however, is outstanding. Good is outstanding. We need to be able to listen, understand and learn. We need to learn the ability to be patient. So I hope everyone interprets the results the right way…

Congratulations to Patricius Winery and all award winning Hungarian Wines for the great results on the International Wine Challenge 2018 results! Patricius Borház Royal Tokaj, Csányi Pincészet, Tokaj-Oremus Pincészet, Disznókő, Tokaj, Hétszőlő Tokaj, Tornai Pincészet-Somló, Zombory Pince, St. Andrea Borászat, Grand Tokaj, Barta Pince, Nyakas Pincészet, Kovacs Nimrod Winery, Törley Pezsgopincészet, Gere Attila Pincészete. What is next?