Pannonhalma Pinot Noir

December 9, 2007

Hungary does ok with some International varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Noir is generally not one of them. For one thing it has only in the last few years become a fad to make Pinots in this country and with such a finicky grape I think more experience is necessary to work out the kinks. As a result, with a few exceptions, Hungarian Pinots I have tasted were borderline bad, but at best mediocre. This was the case with the Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinot Noir, 2006.

Now I realize that they make Pinots in many regions outside of the Burgundy and there are horrible examples of this varietal from Alsace, to me still Pinot Noir is supposed to be a complex, mult-layered, smooth wine with a long finish in which you can discover different tastes over time as you sip on it. In contrast, this wine is super simple, has little complexity and you will definitely not find the treasures you would in a nice Burgundy. It is more similar to a Sancerre Rouge than it is to a Burgundy Pinot, though it lacks the heavy minerality of the Sancerre as well. I am not a huge fan of red Sancerres either so perhaps that is the reason I do not like this Pinot.

Some wine makers here are experimenting with more Burgundian style Pinots, particularly in the Eger region, such as St. Andrea and Gal Tibor. Both of these are pretty good, though quite expensive for the quality. In Villany they are working on more concentrated, heavy, almost new world style Pinot Noirs. There are a couple of decent examples I have had, such as Ebner’s and Tiffan’s. Andreas Ebner, who is originally from the South Tirol Region of Italy but is now living in South Hungary near Villany, particularly makes Pinot in a Cabernet Sauvignon style. This may sound weird, but the result is actually really interesting in a positive way. Innovation is good and Pannonhalma should also take a different, more individualistic route with their Pinots.

Name: Pannonhalmi Abbey’s Winery, Pinot Noir, 2006

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Body: Light to Medium

Price: 12 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

Pannonhalmi Abbey’s Winery, Pinot Noir, 2006

Dammit Wine

November 15, 2007

The other day I went into my local wine store to pick up some every-day table wines. The guy smiling on the picture (if you click on the above), who happens to extract millions from me every month, haha, tells me that they just got several new shipments. I guess it is that time of the year. They had many new wines I had never heard of and one of these was St. Andrea’s A Kutya Fajat 2006. A Kutya Fajat literally means the tree of the dog in Hungarian, but really this is the equivalent expression for the English “Damn it”. What a name for a wine!? I loved it and of course had to get a bottle.

First of all I have to say I am biased about the wine as I love the winery, St. Andrea. St. Andrea is one of the most edgy and progressive wineries in Hungary. They are brave, they innovate, they are really pushing the edge of the traditional Eger region. I mean how can you call a wine “Damn It”?

Damn it is a cuvee of Kekfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I guess you could call it a Bordeaux style blend, but the taste is distinctly different and in a good way. This is a medium bodied blend, quite fruit forward, a bit of cherries, fairly simple, but not empty, it does have substance probably partially due to the fact that it spent 12 months in oak barrels. It is the perfect table wine can you drink any night, summer or winter and it is also very flexible to pair with food. It is what I would call a happy wine. It is fruity, tastes great, does not make you think, and it is inexpensive. What a great combo.

These guys, St. Andrea, also make some really fantastic Bull’s Blood (not that cheap stuff you remember from 20 years ago), Pinot Noir and a higher-end Bordeaux style blend called Merengo. Merengo is a plush wine and while I do not have one on hand, I will probably get a bottle and write it up over the next few months. Cheers.

Name: St. Andrea, A Kutya Fajat, 2006

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 7 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

St. Andrea, A Kutya Fajat, 2006