Unless you have some roots in Hungary, I think it is unlikely that you have ever heard of the varietal Irsai Oliver, a distant cousin of Muscat. This white grape is native to Central Europe and is primarily grown there. I think the grape’s name is so strange to pronounce that everyone else gave up on producing it.

The other night we opened a bottle of Nyakas Pince‘s 2006 Irsai Oliver. I have had the same wine from previous years but not yet the 2006. The wine is one of the best value whites I have found anywhere. For 4 euros a pop you get an amazingly rich, fruit forward, flowery white, sort of tasting like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and a Muscat. It has strong minerality, which it gets from the soil of the Etyek region right outside Budapest, and a rich, long finish. The wine has only seen stainless steel, and is made in the modern reductive style. Did I ever mention I really dislike oak in white wines? White wines belong in steel tanks period.

Ernő Malya, the lead winemaker of Nyakas has been on the forefront of making high quality wines at low prices. This is not easy to do and certainly has not been done much in Hungary before Malya. Gotta love competition, though, the market is changing and more and more producers are forced to follow. I think this is yet another trend the new world is forcing on old world producers. I am supportive of it 😉 Just think what will happen when the 2 Buck Chuck hits the shores of Europe?!

Name: Budai Irsai Oliver, 2006, Nyakas Pince

Rating: 7 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 4 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

Budai Irsai Oliver, 2006, Nyakas Pince

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