These reviews are based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.






It was my good fortune to be able to participate in an online tasting of wines from Hungary presented by the importer/wholesaler Blue Danube Wine Company via Protocol Wine Company’s Twitter based #winechat.


I want to thank Blue Danube for providing these wines for me to sample.



Blue Danube Wine Company

Blue Danube Wine Company distributes wines as a wholesaler to wine retailers, supermarkets, and better restaurants within California.  Simultaneously, we continue to build a nation-wide network of distributors.


As the gateway between East and West, Central Europe has been largely defined by invasion, occupation and alliances despite thousands of years of winemaking.  Blue Danube Wine Company was founded in 2002 by husband and wife team Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar in order to travel to this unique corner of the world and bring its wine culture back to the US market.  Focusing on Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, our goal is to seek out winemakers who truly capture the character of the land they come from.  Indigenous grapes, winemaking traditions that predate Western Europe, and building meaningful long term relationships are the means to this end.


Much more information on the regions Blue Danube covers and their wines is available on their website by clicking here.



About Hungary

Bisected by the Danube River and a gateway between East and West, Hungary has been largely defined by invasion, occupation or alliances ranging from the Mongolians, Turks, Germans, Austrians, Italians, French, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croatians and Communist Russia.  Hungarian cuisine, language, and wine culture is the remarkable transformation of these foreign influences into something uniquely their own.  Over the past 2000 years, its continental climate, fertile soil, volcanic terroirs, and native grapes make it the only country in the world to sing about their wine in their National Anthem.  That said, the Communist period that followed World War II focused on quantity over quality and the greatness of the many regional wines were largely forgotten.  Today, only 20 years after the re-establishment of private and family wineries, Hungary is in the midst of a wine renaissance.  The potential of its 22 distinct appellations and breadth of indigenous varieties and traditions of winemaking are only now being truly (re)discovered.

Much more information on The Wines of Hungary is available on Blue Danube’s site by clicking here.





About Winechat

#winechat is a weekly, Twitter based discussion about something dealing with the world of wine.  Generally, each week’s chat deals with a specific theme and is lead by an “expert” in that area.  This is generally a nice way to learn about a region, winery, type of wine, etc.



What is #WineChat?  Click here to learn more.



How do you join #winechat? Using a tool such as Hootsuite, log into your twitter account & follow the #winechat stream. Be sure to include #winechat at the end of each tweet so everyone in the stream can see you!


Grab a glass and join in!


Click here for the current #winechat schedule.

#winechat is hosted by Protocol Wine Studio.  For more information on them, click here.




My Line Up


Here is my line up for the evening:

Wines of Hungary line up



2011 Eszterbauer Szekszárd Nagyapám – SRP $17.95


The Winery

The Eszterbauer family emigrated to southern Hungary from Bavaria is 1746.  The area they chose was south of Budapest and north of Croatia.  Based on latitude, the region is between France’s Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.The black and white photos on the winery’s labels are from the 1930s and show the family in the winery’s cellar and vineyards.  The family owns 8 hectares of vineyards but farms a total of 22 in 7 sites.


The Wine

The grape used for this wine is Kadarka.  Never heard of it, you say?  That makes two of us.  This grape has a long history and is popular in Hungary and Bolivia.  The grape is also used in most of the eastern European countries where it also goes by the names Gamza, Cedarka and Skadarska.


To me, the grape seemed to be like a combination of Gamay (Beaujolais) and Cabernet Franc (Loire).  The wine had nice fruit, spice and minerals like a good Loire Cab Franc but like a good Cru Beaujolais it could take a slight chill.


The fruit for this wine comes from the winery’s oldest vineyards and many feel it is Hungary’s finest Kadarka.  This is a unique red wine that can use a slight chill.


This wine has 14.0% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

This wine is a medium ruby red color.  The inviting nose has cherries, black pepper and chalky minerals.  The wine has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice peppery cherries and spice up front with minerals coming in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with the cherries and pepper carrying the load.  (87 pts)

2011 Eszterbauer Szekszárd Nagyapám

2011 Eszterbauer Szekszárd Nagyapám




2011 Bodrog Borműhely Furmint Tokaji Lapis – SRP $21.95


The Winery

The Tokaji region in Northeastern Hungary is home to the world’s first appellation system.  Their system was enacted over 100 years before Bordeaux.  Tokaji is so ingrained in Hungarian identity that it’s part of their National Anthem.


The wine business in Hungary is caught up in a renewed renaissance.  Private and family ownership of wineries, which was illegal under Communism, has only been re-established over the last 20+ years.



The Wine

The grape used for this wine is Furmint.  This is also the predominant grape used in the production of Hungary’s highly acclaimed and delicious sweet dessert wine, Tokaji.


This wine is not a sweet wine but is almost totally dry.  This wine was an eye opener.  It had very nice richness and opulence with no lingering sweetness.  Crisp, mouthwatering acidity on the finish held everything together nicely and made you want to grab your glass for another sip.


This has 12.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

This is a nice yellow with straw tint.  The rich smelling nose has peach, vanilla custard, minerals and white pepper.  This has light to medium body and good acidity.  On the palate this is rich and opulent up front with great closing citrusy acidity.  (90 pts)

2011 Bodrog Borműhely Furmint Tokaji Lapis

2011 Bodrog Borműhely Furmint Tokaji Lapis




2011 Fekete Pince Somlovasarhely Somlói Olaszrizling – SRP $24.95


The Winery

Somló is Hungary’s smallest appellation and was once an underwater volcano.  The volcano is now dormant but the region is home to Hungary’s steepest and most densely planted vineyards.


The winemaking “laws” for the region were very strict.  In 1752, local laws stated that if you were found adding water to wine, expect 25 lashings as the minimum punishment.  If you were found to be labeling wine as Somló but using other fruit sources, you would be banned from making wine permanently and might even have your property confiscated.


The owner/winemaker is “The Grand Old Man” of Somló is Fekete Béla.  Since Fekete is now approaching 90 years old, he and his wife Bori decided the 2013 vintage would be their last.


The Wine

This is another unique Hungarian wine.  The wine is aged in 1200 liter Hungarian oak casks for two years that are never completely sealed.  The two years of oxygen contact leads to the “nutty” elements the wine shows.


This wine has 12.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light golden yellow color.  The different and interesting nose has a “nutty” element with spices, pear, apples and minerals.  This has medium body with good acidity and a touch of sweetness.  On the palate there is a saline element to go with spices and nuts and minerals and white fruit with some mouthwatering citrus coming in on the back end.  This has good length the citrus, minerals and the saline element leaving you reaching for another sip.  (89 pts)

2011 Fekete Pince Somlovasarhely Somlói Olaszrizling

2011 Fekete Pince Somlovasarhely Somlói Olaszrizling




Closing comments

This was an eye opening experience for me.  All three of these wines were very unique and impossible to easily categorize with other wines available from around the world.  If you are looking for something thought provoking, different and most importantly very tasty, check out Hungarian wines.




Win an All-inclusive VIP Sonoma Winecation



Underground Cellar is offering you a chance to win an all-inclusive VIP weekend in Sonoma wine country.


The winner will get the following with a value of $6,500:

  • Weekend getaway for 4 to California’s exclusive Sonoma wine country
  • Stay at the luxurious 5,500 sq. ft. Villa Terra Nova Retreat
  • Behind-the-scenes private tour of Iron Horse Vineyards, by winemaker David Munskgard
  • VIP chef’s dinner at award-winning “the girl and the fig” restaurant
  • Rountrip airfare, luxury transportation, and many other surprises!

Click here to enter.   If you win, you can even include me as one of your friends.

Even if you don’t win the grand prize, there is over $3,000 of gift cards with a value of up to $200 to be given away.


While you’re there, check out Underground Cellar unique wine selling model.  You can “buy” a lower cost wine and get upgraded to a much more expensive bottle for free.  For example, one of their current offers is $42 for a 2008 Balboa Brioso.  If you buy this wine, you could get “upgraded” to 2007 Stonestreet Monument Ridge Cabernet ($60 value), 2009 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet ($85 value), 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet ($130 value), 1994 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon ($150 value), or even a 1985 BR Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Olive Hill (Helen Turley) with a value of $220.


The shipping is also incredible, at 6 bottles, shipping cost $5! Buy 6 more bottles and ship for FREE.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.