Dinner at Zona in Budapest

Dinner last night was with Agnes Herczeg and Gaia Gaja at Zona in Budapest. It’s a new restaurant that’s only been open four months, and it’s based around the idea of small plates. The name Zona refers to the portions. In communist times, apparently, if you weren’t very well off you could go late to […]

In Hungary

I’m in Budapest for the VinCE wine conference, where this morning I am giving a talk and conducting a tasting on biodynamic wines.

I arrived yesterday afternoon, and spent a good bit of time focusing on the wines of a special Hungarian terroir, Somlo, guided by Omar Honigh-Csizmadia of Royal Somlo (www.royalsomlo.com). In particular, I was […]

A brilliant Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos

A big dinner last night at home with friends. For me, this was the stand-out wine. It’s truly wonderful. Expensive, but one of the world’s great sweet wines.

Királyudvar Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2002 Hungary
10.2% alcohol. Exotic, powerful nose of spice, raisins, apricot and peach. Lovely purity. The palate is spicy, honeyed, rich and taut with […]

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2005

Not much chat, just a quick note on an utterly brilliant sweet wine. Sold in a handy 25 cl bottle which makes this world class wine relatively affordable at around £11.

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2005 Hungary
10.5% alcohol. Lively, intense aromas of marmalade, apricot, spice and citrus. The palate is concentrated with lots of sweetness but […]

Another brilliant Hungarian Kadarka - I'm starting to like this grape

Hot on the heels of the fabulous Szentesi, I’ve been lucky enough to bump into another brilliant Hungarian Kadarka, this time from Orsolya. This is such an interesting variety, I’ll be looking out for more.

Orsolya Kadarka 2009 Egri Borvidek, Hungary
12.5% alcohol. Pale cherry red colour. Lovely sweet cherry fruit aromatics with some fine, spicy, herby […]

A remarkable Hungarian Kadarka

Now this, dear readers, is a brilliant wine. It’s a Hungarian red made from the Kadarka variety, which is a new discovery for me. From my limited experience, I reckon this is a really interesting grape, making elegant wines a bit reminiscent of Pinot Noir.

It’s made by József Szentesi, whose mission has been to work […]

A brilliant Hungarian Syrah

Really enjoyed this over the last two nights. It’s a Syrah made by an Austrian in the Sopron region of Hungary. Thrilling stuff.

Weninger Syrah 2009 Sopron, Hungary
13.5% alcohol. really fresh, peppery nose showing black pepper, black cherry and spice notes, as well as a hint of clove. The palate is fresh with pepper and spice […]

Hungary, Day 3, and a visit to lake Balaton

Tara Q Thomas and Wojciech Boknowski taking snaps of winning bottles

It is a measure, perhaps, of how good some of the wines in the Pannon Wine Challenge were that when the winners were unveiled at the end of tasting, the judges all crowded round with cameras and iPhones in order to photograph the winning […]

In Hungary, day 2, and a visit to the Abbey Winery in Pannonhalma

Another full day of judging Hungarian wines. We spent the morning finishing tasting all 300 in our groups of three and then in the afternoon joined together, to retaste all the wines that had got through the cut.

John Szabo

It’s a great way of judging because we all get to taste all the good wines. […]

In Hungary, day 1

I’m here in Hungary, judging the Pannon Wine Challenge 2012.

There’s a nice group of judges this year. Three panels, each led by Hungarians, with two international judges on each.


The local judges are Gabriella Mézáros, András Kató and László Romsics, and the international judges are Alder Yarrow, Tara Q Thomas, Isabelle Legeron, Wojciech Bonkowski, John […]