JWL Issue #036: Some Hungarian Wines to Try

January 15, 2019

How do you make notes on your wine? I wrote a while ago about using an old school notepad and pen, but I often find for a really quick note, it becomes quite cumbersome for a single sentence reminder.

People sometimes remark that my love for cooking is an odd one: I love spending hours and hours in the kitchen to make a dish I eat within minutes. The same feels true on a slightly more elastic scale with the podcast: months and months in production, and it’s now almost over.

Last week saw me speak to Corinne Seely of Exton Park, and Jacob Leadley of Black Chalk as part of the Hampshire episode. When I recorded the podcast, Jacob was working at Hattingley Valley alongside Black Chalk but has since gone off to do his own thing. Please let me know your thoughts on the podcast so far.


When I visited Hungary in October 2018, I loved a lot of local wines we tasted. Last week one of the newspaper columnists did a feature on Hungarian wines, and it made me think that it could be Hungary’s year as an export to the UK nation (Brexit-pending). These are three Hungarian wines I’ve tasted all sold by Novel Wines from Hungary.

Kekfrankos is Hungary’s name for the Blaufränkisch grape. St Donat’s Magma (£17.99 from Novel Wines) is some of the best value I’ve found in red wine in a long time. Spicy red fruit with black pepper. This has a very long and elegant finish that hints at chocolate at the end. Bold and Syrah-esque.

The Jackfall Cabernet Franc is meaty and vegetal but not green pepper like a lot of cabernet franc I’ve had. This errs more on the side of mint and liquorice. A really definitive flavour that cabernet franc fans will love. 

Sabar Keknyelu is almost water white and shines almost a luminous green in the bottle. The wine (£12.99) is floral, stony and with a Chablis-esque austerity to it. This wine is elegant in abundance and I definitely wouldn’t pair it with anything too overpowering.


Where do wine aromas come from?

When you read tasting notes with aromas of lavender or struck raspberry, you might wonder where they come from. With the Hungarian cabernet franc, I spoke about green bell pepper - an aroma sometimes associated with the grape or carménère. 

That green bell pepper aroma comes from an flavour compound called Pyrazine. Pyrazine can also give off aromas of grass or elderflower, and is one or the major flavour compounds in coffee and chocolate. If you’re smelling black pepper, thyme or marjoram, it’ll be from a compound called Rotundone. 

The wine aromas all exist because of flavour compounds that have aromas of other things. The compounds have good and bad characteristics and are affected by all the other winegrowing factors like climate and weather. 

For a great starting point on different compounds, check out this Wine Folly article. 

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