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The Wines of Austria and Hungary

by | Nov 4, 2019 | Richmond Wine Society, Teddington Wine Society | 0 comments

Over three tastings at Richmond and Teddington Wine Societies we explored neighbouring countries, whose wine cultures have taken somewhat different directions.

Hungary, with a long winemaking tradition, particularly around the Tokaj region, has struggled in recent years to establish a position for itself in the modern pantheon of wines.  While sweet Tokaji wines have a reputation to match the best Sauternes and sweet wines from Alsace and Germany, white and red wines have found far less success.  Doing our best to to put that right we tasted a particularly nice example of Harslevelü and at Richmond a Furmint (the other variety that goes into Tokaji), while at Teddington a Keknyelu showed all the high acidity and minerality one  would expect – if one knew what to expect from a grape that has largely been pulled up, and is confined to 40ha on the north shore of Lake Balaton.  We had a Balaton wine at Richmond but this was a blend of three even more obscure varieties with some Pinot Blanc thrown in.

The Kardaka (the grape of Bull’s Blood) we tasted at Teddington confirmed this variety may need to wait for drinkers to catch up with its tannic, brooding style, while the Kekfrankos (also goes into Bull’s Blood and known as Blaufrankisch) at Richmond was more approachable.

The Austrian wines we tasted were more ‘conventional’, and truth be told, more enjoyable (with the exception of our final 5 Puttonyos Tokaji which was superb).  Rieslings from top winemakers in the superb regions of Kamptal and Wachau, and a Grüner Veltliner from Wachau demonstrated the quality that comes from these small areas that hug the Danube river on its northern banks.  A Pinot Noir from Wien (Vienna is a wine region in its own right) completed our Austrian tastings and felt on rather safer ground than the Hungarian reds.

A particular challenge of the first night Richmond was a number of faulty wines.  I was particularly surprised at this with a relatively young wine from a top Austrian region, in screw cap, tasting totally different from the wine in the second bottle.

So, a challenging night, but actually, this is one of the joys of wine tasting groups – you get to try things you wouldn’t otherwise try, you find ones you like, and you aren’t stuck with bottles of the ones you don’t.  And you have the reassurance of the people around you confirming that a wine isn’t quite right.

Wines are listed on the Wines we have tasted page.

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“Throughout the 17 years I have attended Tim’s wine tasting events, he has continued to deliver his extensive knowledge of wine and wine-making with great charm, and lots of humour, making the evenings not only informative, but also great fun. In the course of an average year, the tastings cover a kaleidoscope of different wine themes – interesting and entertaining for all, novices and experts alike. And the wines taste pretty good too!”

“We have been going to Teddington Wine Society events for a number of years. Tim runs the evenings with bonhomie and humour and wears his considerable knowledge lightly. The evenings are great fun, the wines are always a little bit different and help to expand knowledge and tasting horizons.”

“I have attended the Richmond Wine society for over ten years and always enjoyed Tim’s self-effacing style and gentle humour. His knowledge is globally eclectic and presented in a clear, interesting and always stimulating way. Every guest I have taken there has enjoyed the evening immensely. Tim also offers a wide range of wines to buy and my red cellar has provided great pleasure to my own dinner guests.”

“I’ve been enjoying Tim’s tastings for over 20 years – he is a great teacher, raconteur and wine expert. He is seriously passionate about his wine, but there is nothing serious about his tastings, which are always informal and relaxed. A lovely way to spend an evening and enjoy some fantastic wines.”

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