3 new reasons to go to Sopron
Fire Tower with Taschner Chardonnay Brut, Pálinka made of rare Turán grape, new wave of Sopron producers. Sopron is a wine region in the west of Hungary, neighbouring with Austria. Kékfrankos(Blaufrankisch) is the flagship variety, but Sopron producers seem to adore diversity.
Almost in heaven – Fire Tower with morning sparks
Kurt István Taschner is not only a winemaker. He is a passionate amateur photographer and he has a deep knowledge of Sopron history. We were more than lucky to have him as our guide in March during Hungarian Wine Summit, on our study tour in Sopron. He took us to the iconic building called Tűztorony (‘Fire Tower’), the symbol of the town. As he explained, the primarily role of the tower was to watch if there had been a fire, but the guards also watched if any barrels had been carried towards the town gates. It was forbidden to enter outlander wines, thus guards signalled if a carriage with barrels from outside attempted to enter. After the history lesson we went up the stairs (a lot of them…) and we could enjoy the breathtaking view with Taschner bottle fermented Chardonnay sparkling wine in our glass! Every year around 2000 bottles are made only, and made of 100% Chardonnay. The price is only around 12 euros. “Straw yellow colour with medium intensity. Subtle perlage. Lovely nose with excellent structure: ripened fruits, a touch of stone fruits, restrained yeasty character. Delicate mousse on the palate with balanced acidity.”
The Fire Tower + Taschner experience is not available for the public, but you can do one after the other. Visit Fire Tower, enjoy the view and then participate in a wine tasting with Kurt István Taschner!
‘1 Drop of Pálinka’ – Turán and other rarities
‘1 csepp pálinka’ (‘1 Drop of Pálinka’) was born from a hobby: some friends were keen on high quality pálinka (the Hungarian national, origin protected spirit made of 100% fruit picked within Hungary), so they decided to establish their own pálinka manufacture. The distillery is located in the village of Hegykő, near Sopron, and the restored old building is now a spectatular distillery with visitor centre. In 2014 the manufacture received the award “The Most Beautiful House of Fertő District”.
It is worth taking a lok at their webshop, they create rarities like distilled beer with craft breweries Mad Scientist and Monyó, pálinkas from local fruit (from the very same village) and pálinkas from several grape varieties from Irsai Olivér to Turán. Turán is a Hungarian black grape variety, the result of several crossings, mostly grown in Eger. It has a typical nose of flowers and honey (from Csabagyöngye white grape, one of the parents). These floral-honeyed notes are successfully conveyed into the spirit – keen wine enthusiasts can even recognize the variety. Pleasant tartness with a drop of raisin-like sweetness. A lovery pálinka that we enjoyed after dinner in Sopron!
If you want to participate in a tasting, contact Balázs Dömötör, the master of distillery, who is also in charge of tastings. You can choose between “Small drops” or “Large drops”, the former includes the visit of the distillery and 5 award winning pálinkas (4500 HUF = 12 euros), while the latter includes the visit and 10 award winner pálinkas (7000 HUF = 18 euros).
New wave of Sopron producers
The above mentioned Hungarian Wine Summit study tour to Sopron ended with a wine dinner at Erhardt restaurant. Splendid local plates (like ‘lángos’, a fried salty pastry with porcini and wild onions) with local wines, each introduced by the producer itself. Though Kékfrankos red wine is the most important wine of Sopron (even a local currency was introduced with the same name to boost local commerce), winemakers love to have a wider portfolio. We had a chance to taste several Kékfrankos red wines the following day at Steigler Cellar – a quite new winery with amazing organic wines, a must-visit place! –, but at the dinner producers decided to show another face of Sopron.
After the welcome drink – Taschner Irsai Olivér 2021, the first new vintage wine of Hungary, which won great gold and was selected The Best New Wine of Hungary – we tasted Zachár Chardonnay 2018, a natural wine made by a young artizan winemaker, Ágnes Zachár. The wine impressed the guests with its character and purity. The wine and the local bread with butter would be sufficicient for a meal…
The following wine came from Stubenvoll winery, a new venture by an experienced winemaker. Csaba Oroszhas been making wines for a long time, but Stubenvoll is the family estate and it started a few years ago. Stubenvoll Kékfrankos Rosé 2021 featured all the fruitiness of the variety, a crispy and refreshing basket of berry fruits. The rosé paired well with the above mentioned lángos, and helped to digest to grease of the food.
The main course – duck leg with cabbage – paired perfectly with Luka Zweigelt 2019, the only red wine of the dinner. Enikő Luka could not participate in the dinner, thus Mátyás Szik sommelier champion introduced the wine. Mátyás is a keen follower of Enikő’s wines, thus he gave a passionate introduction explaining that yes, feminine wine exists, if you taste this wine without knowing the producer, you can still guess that it was made by a woman even though the wine has a firm structure. Zweigelt is a grape variety most known in Austria, but it is the flagship variety of Enikő. No wonder: one of the most beautiful Zweigelt wines we have ever tasted.
The dessert – chocolate mousse – came with a late harvest wine made of Zenit, an indigenous Hungarian grape variety, favoured in Sopron. Vincellér Late Harvest Zenit is a nicely balanced sweet wine with enough acidity and lovely floral and grapey flavours.
If you visited Sopron long time ago, you have at least 3 reasons to go back, but we can simply find much more. If you need help, do not hesitate to contact us!