The new era of Tokaj dry white wines. Hungary’s winemaking at its best!

You would probably now Hungary’s most famous wine area, for it’s notorious sweet wines. Well, you should definitely look out for Tokaj’s dry whites, as the style and quality of them are constantly rising the last decade, and account for a great amount of region’s production today.

Balassa Betsek Furmint 2011

This post is all about a small boutique winery, by a young and ambitious wine maker: István Balassa. As he says: “I happened to get involved with the world of wine by accident in the summer of 1999 and it seems that I’m here to stay…” and I’m sure it’s gonna be so, as today’s wine, was one of the most impressive I’ve tasted the last year.

The basic grape of Tokaj is Furmint and our bottle is 100% made of it, with fruit coming from a single vineyard site named Betsek, which is only a half acre large (20.000 sq. meters, and about 1400 bottles of dry Furmint). Located at a hillside of Mád, It’s hard yellow clay soil mixed with white tufa provides a good acidic character to it’s wines. The site’s sun exposure is eastern and south-eastern for maximum ripeness. The wine is fermented and aged in casks, contributing to a great complexity.

Tasting notes: Medium yellow color. Developed nose of medium+ intensity truly seductive! I found my self sniffing and sniffing for minutes before tasting! Concentrated and complex, with ripe yellow fruit (apricot, nectarine and citrus), evident but integrated oak (not wood but vanilla hints of smoke, and tons of honey), stony and mineral, and all covered by a nice veil of herbality (some thyme and rosemary). The wine is intended to be slightly oxidised, adding further interesting elements of wax and glue. Palate is slightly off dry, necessary for balancing the natural high acidity. Alcohol is obviously high, but so well integrated that was hardly noticed. Great flavor intensity, full of stone fruit, and earthy notes, and a bit more evident oak than nose. Very long and “sweet” finish.

Photo 23-2-14 - 2 42 44 μ.μ.

We paired it good with traditional Greek sea food dishes (among other great wines), but will show it’s best with smoked fish, and spicy/herbal seasoned roasted poultry.

The wine is already enjoyable, but will greatly benefit from further ageing.

Grape: Furmint 100%

Alcohol: 14,5%

Retail price in Greece: not imported yet. About 20 euros / 30$ and you can order here

Score: 93

Value for money: Excellent

Winery website:

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