Most of them were heavy, acidic, very alcoholic, and heavily oxidised. With the exception of the Tokay wines, Hungarian wines at this time had little honour left. After 1989 the state industries were hopelessly in decline and it was not known how the damage that had been done could be put right.
The removal of the Soviet Union as an export market was not immediately replaced by the markets of Western European. European standards were far higher and the Hungarian wine industry desperately needed renovation and modernisation. While the monolithic former state concerns found it extremely difficult to attract investment because they were too large, lacked agility, and were too old-fashioned, a few dynamic wine-makers were saved by foreign investors. The Hungarian terroir is good, the prospects very promising, and by Western standards the investments were not huge. New Hungarian vineyards were planted, old vines replaced, completely new wineries were built, and others were renovated to meet modem demands. Only businesses which could offer the highest quality stood any chance in the markets of Western Europe.
That the Hungarian wine industry is heading in the right direction is due to people like Zoltán Zilai of the Hungarian wine foundation and the many dynamic growers such as Attila Gere, Zoltán Polgar, Tibor Kovacs (Hetszolo), Janos Arvay (Disnoko), Andras Bacso (Oremus), Attila Domokos (Bataapati), Akos Kamocsai (Hilltop), Vilmos Tummerer, Ede Tiffan, Sandor Toth, Joszef Bock, and many others.
Tradition for Hungary Wine
Hungary’s great diversity in wine has its origins in the curiosity of three different climate types (maritime, continental, and Mediterranean). Furthermore Hungary also possesses some unique varieties of grapes.
The north is best known for its firm, fresh, and aromatic white wines and fresh, fruity, and fairly light red wines, while the south is mainly famous for sturdy, alcoholic, full-bodied, and well-rounded reds. The Hungarians generally have great respect for both tradition and character. For the former state industries tradition seemed to stretch back no further than the past forty years but many of the newer companies are seeking the soul of the more traditional Hungarian wines of before World War II.
It is a shame that most Europeans are only aware (in addition to the famous Tokay or Tokaj wines) of the none-too-dry and ponderous Bull’s Blood reds from Eger (Egri Bikaver) that are often oxidised and Nemes Kadarka.
Hungary has so much more to offer. One factor behind the great diversity of Hungarian wines is the considerable variety of grapes permitted. At least 35 different types form the basis of Hungarian wines. The country grows many native varieties in addition to the well-known European (French and Austrian) types. The most important of these are described below together with their characteristics.
Hungarian Wine houses
It is possible to try all the good Hungarian wines without the need to travel widely by visiting a Budapest wine house. These trading companies have many years of experience of the Hungarian wine trade and know the best years and wines to choose. The houses of Vinarium, Corvinum, Hungarovin, and Zwack are highly recommended. Each of these four offers a very broad range of high quality wines.