12 High-end Hungarian wines
Imported by UK merchant Cozzi and Boffa


Hungarian wines aren’t well known in the UK, with one famous exception. That exception is Tokaji Aszu, the sweet wine from the Tokaji region, which is celebrated as one of the world’s great sweet wine styles.

So I was really pleased to get a chance to try a selection of high-end Hungarian wines that have been imported into the UK by merchant Jason Cozzi (www.cozziandboffa.com). Jason also sent these wines to fellow wine writer Chris Kissack, who has also reviewed them (his in-depth report is here, and contains some more background on the regions and producers).

It’s immediately apparent that Chris liked these wines a lot more than I did. I found them a mixed bunch. Some – notably Zoltán Demeter’s dry Tokajis and the unusual but delicious Legli late-harvested Riesling – were superb.

But many of the reds lacked freshness and definition, and were made in too oxidative a style. It’s instructive to look at the alcohol levels here. Most were 15% or even above, which is just too much. The wines tasted as if the grapes had been picked just a bit too late.

My feeling is that perhaps the focus on Bordeaux red varieties, the tendency to go for extreme levels of ripeness, and the slightly oxidative winemaking regimes are not ideal.

Clearly, though, these wines are very popular in Hungary. I tried them without looking up the prices or background, and when it came to writing them up – at which stage I checked these details – I was quite shocked to see how expensive they were. Clearly, they are regarded as great in Hungary.

So I came away rather disappointed; I’d really wanted to like these wines, and it would have been far easier to pen a report saying great things about Hungary’s top wines than the views I’m writing here. I don’t want to dwell on negatives, and I’m not suggesting that these are bad wines. It’s just that the potential for making much better wines from what must be fine terroirs is evident to me on the basis of this tasting.  


Otto Legli Gesteneyés Riesling 2007 Válogalatás, Balatonbolgári
16.5% alcohol. Wonderfully aromatic nose of pear, peach and apricot fruit, a bit like a Sauternes in character with some botrytis influence. The palate is pithy, citrussy and apricotty with some spicy notes, as well as some warmth from the alcohol. It’s dry and quite fresh with an almost salty character. 92/100 (£21.99)

Zoltán Demeter Szerelmi Hárslevelű 2008 Tokaji
13.5% alcohol. A dry Tokaji made just from the Hárslevelű grape; it’s part of a series of six single-vineyard releases from Zoltán Demeter. Complex nose of lemon, tangerine and apricot, with some spice. The palate is textured and broad with smooth pear and apricot fruit, showing fine mineral qualities. Broad and mouthfilling; a rich wine of great appeal. 91/100 (£34.50)

Zoltán Demeter Lapis Furmint 2008 Tokaji
14.5% alcohol. Distinctive, waxy, melony nose with some subtle cabbage notes. The palate has lovely, powerful crystalline fruit notes, as well as melon and pear. Bold and rich textured, but dry with a nice mineral edge. Superb stuff, with real personality and concentration. 93/100 (£29.95)

Ferenc Takler Reserve Syrah 2007 Szekszárd
16% alcohol. From a south facing vineyard, this spends 18 months in new Hungarian oak barrels of 500 litres each. Very rich, warm, sweet spicy nose. The palate is lush, ripe and creamy with sweet red berry fruits. A little jammy, without as much definition as you’d expect. Far too along the ripeness spectrum for me: I reckon these grapes should have been picked earlier. 86/100 (£45)

Ferenc Takler Bikavér Reserve 2006 Szeksárd
14% alcohol. Nice open sweet cherry fruit nose. Nicely aromatic. The palate is supple and elegant with open, light cherry fruit and some spicy depth. Finishes quite warm. It’s very ripe but there’s still some elegance here. 88/100 (£19.99)

Zoltán Heimann Franciscus 2007 Szekszárd
15% alcohol. Nicely packaged. A blend of two-thirds Sagrantino with a third Cabernet Franc. A deep colour, with a sweet ripe nose of spicy-edged berry fruits. Modern and rich. The palate shows lush, sweet fruit with some bright structure and fresh, grippy tannins. Modern-styled with very forward, pure fruit, finishing fresh and savoury. Flirts with over-ripeness but the fresh tannins save it. 90/100 (£28.50)

Zoltán Heimann Barbár 2006 Szekszárd
14% alcohol. Sweet ripe berry and plum fruit with a liqueur-like edge. Lush and a bit salty with a subtle earthiness and some roast coffee notes. Slightly stewed. 86/100  (£28.50)

Weninger & Gere Cabernet Franc 2007 Villány
15% alcohol. A joint project with Austrian producer Weninger, made from 45 year old Cabernet Franc vines. Slightly faded colour. Spicy, medicinal nose. The palate is ripe and warm with a distinctive spicy, savoury character. Lacking definition and purity, and made in an oxidative style. 84/100 (£32)

Attila Gere Solus Merlot 2007 Kopár, Villány
15% alcohol. 16 months ageing in Hungarian oak. Sweet, savoury, spicy and mineral with some medicinal hints. Ripe and full with a distinctively savoury, spicy edge. Earthy, too. Odd but nice. 86/100 (£49)

Attila Gere Kopár Cuvée 2007 Villány
15% alcohol. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 16 months in new Hungarian and French oak. Very ripe and modern styled, but quite serious. Lovely raspberry, plum and blackberry fruit here, backed up by a savoury spiciness and the tiniest medicinal hint. Quite sophisticated with nice balance between the fruit sweetness and the savoury, tarry, mineral notes. The tannic structure and fresh acidity suggest that this might age. Bordeaux meets Tuscany. 91/100 (£36)   

Ede Tiffán Cuvée Carissmae 2007 Villány
15% alcohol. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Fresh, quite pure plum and blackberry fruit with a strongly savoury, tannic edge and good acidity. Ripe, with clean almost lush fruit, nicely countered by savoury freshness. Grippy tannins on the finish. 89/100 (£35)

Ede Tiffán Grande Selection 2006 Villány
15% alcohol. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Stewed and slightly baked, made in an oxidative style with some spice and earth notes, as well as grippy tannins and some vanilla. Not pleasurable. 83/100 (£55)

Wines tasted 10/10

See also:

Royal Tokaji: amazing sweet wines from Hungary
Weninger in Hungary, a visit in 2004

Published 12/10  
Find these wines with

Back to top