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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, October 07 2009. 17:47

Hungary Kya: Villány Wine Festival 2009

Villány, the second most important wine region after Tokai is the southernmost wine region of Hungary, which holds a wine festival every year during the first week-end of October, attracting over 15,000 revelers to the otherwise sleepy town for a 3-day wine filled holiday. Dr. Yashoda Devi reports from the venue.

’Hungary-for winemaking?’ My wine connoisseur friend sneered. ’To learn to make Tokaj?’  That about summarizes the global outlook towards Hungary, as a wine making region. I had to elucidate that I was going to learn to make world class, Bordeaux-blend, dry wines in a region called Villány.

 Villány is the southernmost wine region of Hungary, about 250 kms away from Budapest. It is the second most popular region after Tokaj and legend has it that when archaeological excavations of the city took place, in one of the ancient castles, a crock was revealed, which was said to have been used to store wines. This discovery helps date Hungary as a region with 2000 years of wine history behind it. Most of the vines were assumed to have been brought in by the Germans.

Villány Wine Festival

Every first weekend of October, Villány throws open its doors to the whole nation, to host its wine festival. Over 15,000 revelers troop into this otherwise sleepy town to enjoy a holiday that extends over three days. More than 30 wineries situated in this region offer wines that are sold in small kiosks along the Baross Gabor street, which stretches over a kilometer.

Every participant buys a wine glass that is attached to a leather strap that acts as a necklace and stays with them until the end of the festival. The wines are sold by glass or by the bottle and costs anywhere from 200 Hungarian Forints (less than a Euro) to around 1800 HUF per glass. The bottle can set you back from 800HUF to 20, 000HUF, depending on the quality. Cultural activities take place from 11 in the morning to 2  the next morning, on a stage erected on one end of the street.

Hungary’s famous handcrafted goods are also on sale in the never-ending row of stalls. Most of the small scale, exclusive wineries that have their ’Pinces’ or wineries off the main street, allow people in for a tasting and a tour of the winery. The atmosphere is charged with excitement and the exchange of tasting notes as people move from one kiosk to another to taste different wines from all producers. The best ones get overcrowded in a matter of minutes. Intoxicated from all the drinking, a few revelers even begin to get raucous.

The region and its wines

My tastings brought into focus the renewed passion with which Villány is producing wines. The once sleepy, laid back town has understood the importance of wine tourism and marketing, as is evident by the number of wineries that have expanded their businesses to build an attached spa and hotel.

This is a new trend, not even a year old, and already four major names in the business are ready with their new offering. The results are beginning to show-tourists are pouring in from Budapest to experience a wine holiday. Malatinszky, Bock, Vylyan, Gere Attila and Tiffan’s have all become household names in Hungary.

The ongoing project to declare Pecs, which is half an hour away, as the cultural capital of Europe in 2010, and the construction of the six-lane freeway from Budapest to Pecs via Villány are moves from the government to capitalize on the popularity of the town. The wines are really world class and are made of mainly Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A few varietals native to Hungary like the Portugieser, Kekfrankos and Kadarka are also used. Hungarian oak is preferred by many over the French oak, and is used with pride for maturing the wines. Csaba Malatinszky’s Kuria Cabernet Franc (17000HUF/60 Euros) is one of the best that exists in the world. Hungary is silently surging ahead to make a mark on the world of wines.

Meet the Winemaker from Malatinszky

Here is a first hand version of a fine winemaker I met in the region---

‘My name is Sandor Faludi and I work as an assistant winemaker at Malatinszky Kuria Winery in Villany, Hungary. I am very proud to work here making one of the best Cabernet Francs in the world.  I also have a website where I write about my journeys as a wine tourist and help others to find the best wine routes, current festival events, new wine releases, and places to stay in their favourite wine regions.    

In the past, Hungary was only internationally known for their sweet Tokaj wines famously referred to as the “wine of kings and the king of wines”.  Today, red wines are making their way into the public eye and Villany has taken over the spotlight.  Though Villany’s wine culture has a history over two thousand years old, quality wine making has only been a focus in Hungary for the past twenty years. 

Villany is now Hungary’s most popular red wine producing region, its characteristic varieties--apart from a few local varieties--are the same as those found in Bordeaux including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and, of course, the Cabernet Franc. Villany’s  terroir is ideal with its south-facing slopes and limestone-rich soil where  vegetation tends to begin early. The climate is also favourable:  the precipitation levels leave us no need to irrigate, the summers are hot and mostly dry and are complimented by long, sunny autumns with cool nights, perfect for achieving full ripeness and wonderful aromas.

The Cabernet Franc has found a great home here in Villany. In Bordeaux, this variety is used only in blends, but here the Cabernet Franc shows a whole new face allowing us to make wines that are 100% Cabernet Franc. ‘

Walking the Line

At the end of three days, it is surprising to find anyone who talks without slurring or who can walk in a straight line. Everyone who has arrived returns to the routine lives filled with wine and memories that will last until the next year’s festival. 

Villány Wine Festival in October 2010 anyone?

Dr Yashoda Devi

Dr Yashoda Devi is a practising medical doctor. In 2005, she went to London where she passed out of WSET Advanced course with a distinction. She was invited as a judge for the Japan Wine Challenge in 2007. She has worked with Grover Vineyards as an Assistant Winemaker. She is currently doing the harvest at Villány with one of the best winemakers, Malatinszky.



Gautam Rao Says:

Congratulations Yashoda!! Informative article. Awesome Progress cosidering you being part of the wine industry very recently. Wishing you all the Best!!!

Posted @ October 13, 2009 16:36


Prem Varkey Says:

Congrats Yashoda!! A well documented article !! I am sure that your experience at Villany will pay rich divendends and enrich your passion for wines !!!

Posted @ October 13, 2009 14:55


Nirad Muthanna Says:

Well done Yashoda. Very interesting article. Hungarian wines certainly need more exposure in India.

Posted @ October 13, 2009 14:07


Asha Says:

Well done Sis. Great article. Keep up the good work. Asha

Posted @ October 13, 2009 14:05


Anup TG Says:

Yashodhaji, your article is wonderful,never knew that the Hungarian wines are so good. Even for novices like me it looks very tempting to visit Hungary on one pretext or the other. If you can bring some bottles of Cabernet Franc and Tokaj wines it will be excellent.

Posted @ October 13, 2009 14:01


Devesh Agarwal Says:

Congratulations Yashoda. Well done

Posted @ October 12, 2009 17:50


Chander Mannar Says:

Fantastic article Yashoda, I am aware of your passion for wine. Now I know you also write very eloquently. Keep it up!! Let me know once you are back from Villany and meanwhile keep updating !!

Posted @ October 12, 2009 17:41


Yashoda Says:

Subhash, Trust Sanjay Menon to come up with something wicked! You better take off the 'kurva bossameg' for it means something vulgar and demeaning in Magyar & people here are rolling with laughter.Yashoda

Posted @ October 12, 2009 17:30


Sanjay Says:

Fabulous maiden article, Yashoda! Well done. Looking forward to your future despatches. Chinon, Bourgueil & Saumur-Champigny are also made predominantly or completely from Cab Franc, but some important St. Emilion are also Cab Franc driven, including Cheval Blanc. Great to hear about your Villany Experience! Kurva Bossameg!

Posted @ October 09, 2009 17:36


randhir. balagopal Says:

Bravo Yeshoda. Your article i am sure will get many people excited to taste wonderful Bordeaux blends from Hungary, the best cabernet francs in the world at a fraction of the cost they have to pay for the French counterpart. Randhir

Posted @ October 09, 2009 22:25


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