Etyek produces an outstanding sparkling Hungarian wine (Pezgô) by the traditional method. These are Hungarian wines than can readily compete with most Champagnes except the top cuvées. Two that are recommended are François Président and Tôrley Brut, which both come from Hungarovin, which cooperates with the German sparkling wine house of Henkell.
Mâtraalja Hungarian Wine
En route between Budapest and Eger you pass through Gyongos and the beautiful 50 km (31 miles) long Matra range of mountains.
The entire area is covered in dense woodland and is an ideal wine-growing and walking area. The soil is of volcanic origin and hence ideal for cultivating vines for Hungarian wine. The Hungarian wines from here are mainly whites that are dry to sweet. The Harslevelü and Szürkebarat here are good. Some recommended Hungarian wines include Abasari Olaszrizling of Sandor Kiss, the seductive sweet Muscat Ottonel of Matyas Szoke and most of the Tramini wines. The much rarer red wines are surprisingly good, such as the Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon of Mâtyâs Szôke and the Kékfrankos Vinitor of Szôlôkert Cooperative of Nagyréde.
Some of the rosés are also worth while considering.
The most surprising wines are probably the superb Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays. Not only are these Hungarian wines of great style and quality ( like the Matra Hill Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay of Szôlôskert or the Mâtraaljai Chardonnay of Mâtyâs Szôke) but they cost much less than the average Hungarian Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Drinking temperature for this Hungarian wine is 8-12°C (46.4-53.6°F).
Eger Hungarian Wine
The town of Eger is situated in a hilly area about 130 km (81 miles) east of Budapest. The volcanic soil here also seems highly beneficial for wine-growing. The Eger Bull’s Blood or Egri Bikaver is world famous but of variable quality. The Egervin company is typical of the Hugarian wine tradition in this area. They make several fine Hungarian wines such as their slightly sweet Debroi Harslevelii, which is like a glass filled with floral honey.
Much has changed since Egervin have used a ‘flying wine-maker’ from Australia. All the oxygen is now removed from the bottles and replaced with nitrogen so that the white wines become less easily ‘tired’. The quality of the red Hungarian wines is also heading upwards. The lesser quality Kadarka is being replaced with Kekfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The testing laboratory in Eger is also doing development work with Blauweburger grapes. Egri Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 and Egri Merlot 1996 are superb and the 1995 Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood) is exceptionally fine.
The best Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikaver) though comes from Vilmos Thummerer, who is probably one of Hungary’s best winemakers, and certainly the best from Eger. Although excellent white Hungarian wines from grapes such as Leanyka, Kiralyleanyka, Pinot Blanc, and Olaszrizling are worth tasting, the finest wines from Eger are the perfect Egri Cabernet Sauvignon and Egri Bikaver. Those made by Thummerer have great potential to age well. Drinking temperature for this Hungarian wine is 14-18°C (57.2-64.4°F) depending on the quality.