3 Top Traminer wines from Hungary
Did you know that Traminer is also produced in Canada? Did you know that Traminer is identical with Savagnin, the grape to make the famous vin jaune in Jura? Did you know that Traminer is NOT from Tramin? Did you know, that Traminer is the parent of Sauvignon Blanc, thus the grandfather of Cabernet Sauvignon? Let’s have a Traminer lesson and 3 ‘Tramini’ worth tasting – well, the last one is not a Tramini, but a blend “seasoned” with Tramini.
Traminer is not from Tramin
José Vouillamoz, the author of Wine Grapes – along with Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding – has unquestionable arguments about the origin of Traminer not being Tramin. For example the fact that “In the nineteenth century, ampelographer Johann Philipp Bronner (1857) visited the Sütirol and was surprised not to find a single Savagnin vine.” Another, beautiful argument is simply based on logics: “In the nineteenth century, ampelographer Johann Philipp Bronner (1857) visited the Sütirol and was surprised not to find a single Savagnin vine.”
As Vouillamoz points out, Savagnin is identical with Traminer: “Several of these forms have often been mistakenly considered to be distinct varieties, eg Gewürztraminer in Alsace and Germany; Heida or Païen in Switzerland; Traminer or Traminer Weisser in Germany; Traminer Aromatico in Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy. Yet DNA profiling has shown that they all have the same genetic fingerprint, with the exception of some minor clonal genetic differences, and that they all correspond to the same variety.”
Savagnin / Traminer may originate from north-east France or south-west Germany, and nowadays it is popular in many countries of Europe, and there are some plantations in Canada (they make ice wine of it) and in Australia.
In Hungary there are 762 hectares of Traminer, it is the 10th most planted white variety. We call it ‘Tramini’, and some decades ago it was very popular – nowadays it is not as trendy, but it does not mean that we should forget about it.
Early budding and ripening variety. Small, sometimes very small, bunches and berries with thick skins, which give it good resistance to fungal diseases, especially to botrytis. Tramini can achieve high sugar concentration while retaining good levels of acidity. In good hands it can produce great, complex wines with ageing potential. Tramini can be abundant in floral notes: rose petals, honey suckle, orange blossom and it can also show lemon zest and fine spices. Usually it fills the mouth, velvety, high in extract and alcohol, and in Hungary it mostly has moderate acidity. It reminds us of Muscat grape.
Tűzkő Tramini with silver medal from San Diego
Antinori’s Hungarian estate is situated in Tolna wine region, south-west Hungary. The picturesque hilly area is equally suitable white and black varieties. Tűzkő Tramini 2019 has just received silver medal at the 39th San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge. For the wine, the hand harvested Tramini grapes were processed gently, soaked for 6–8 hours, fermented and aged in stainless steel tank. A lovely, aromatic wine ideal with Asian dishes, fish, salads and white flesh meat dishes.
Naplevente – wine from where the sun meets the mountain
Sol Montis is a family winery in Mátra wine region, where “the sun meets the mountain”, hence the name of the estate. Tramini is an important grape variety of Mátra wine region. In Hungary there are 762 hectares of Tramini, of which almost half the amount, 330 hectares are in Mátra wine region.
The name of the wine is a smart pun: ‘Naplemente’ means ‘Sunset’, however there is a letter change, thus the second part of the word is a male first name, Levente. With this personalization you can imagine yourself in the sunset in Mátra mountain with an enchanting gentleman called Levente.
“Rose petal, a bouquet of flowers, bitter almond. Black or white, yes or no: if you like it, you like it a lot. If you don’t like it, it is not your wine. You cannot stand in the middle of the road. Here, in Mátra, on the Mountain of the Sun it is Levente, who takes you for a walk. Be alone or in company – or at a date –, this wine will accompany you with its enchanting aromas and refreshing flavours.”
More about Sol Montis
Thummerer Egri Csillag – a blend “seasoned” with Tramini
Eger wine region created a new community white blend in 2010 to have a proper partner of the famous red blend, Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood). When creating the rules for Egri Csillag (The ‘Star of Eger’), the winemakers wanted a wine reflecting the terroir, therefore they did not want it to be masked by an aromatic variety. According to the rule, the blend has to contain least 4 grapes and the ratio of Carpathian Basin varieties (eg. Leányka, Királyleányka, Furmint, Hárslevelű, Zengő, Zenit) should be minimum 50%. The aromatic grapes cannot exceed 30% of the blend.
At Thummerer Winery the grape Királyleányka is a favourite, in their Egri Csillag it represents 50% of the blend along with 20% Zenit and 15% Sauvignon blanc. Tramini is also only 15%, yet, it can easily be detected when smelling the wine.
“Nice greenish tone. Fresh spring meadow full flowers on the nose. Tramini and Zenit give the body while Királyleányka adds the acidity of the wine. A really long lasting wine with lovely finish.”