GROW du Monde 2024 May Balaton, Hungary

GROW du Monde in May at Lake Balaton, Hungary

Graševina, Olaszrizling or Welshriesling – they all mean the same grape variety, hence the abbreviation of GROW, a Central European initiative to put the variety in the limelight. The last week of May will see a wine contest of the variety of some 300 samples, a conference, award ceremony and grand tasting on the 31st of May and study tours for international members of the press and wine trade. The organization of the project is going at full speed, several associations joined forces, however the event still needs the financial support of the Hungarian Wine Marketing Agency – let us hope it will be granted.
Besides several experts of Central Europe, representatives of media like Falstaff and Decanter have already confirmed their participation.

The mirror of the terroir

The first GROW du Monde took place in Serbia, the second in Croatia, and now Hungary will host the contest and conference at Lake Balaton, the most emblematic Hungarian terroir of Olaszrizling. Just enough to think of Balaton Bor (‘Balaton Wine’), the community wine of the 6 wine regions around the lake. As Zoltán Győrffy, one of the founders of GROW, the director of the Balaton contest commented, “No matter where it grows – in Slavonia, in Syrmia or in the Balaton broader region –, Olaszrizling always reflects the unique style and terroir.” The event will be a great opportunity for the participants of the study tour to take a deep dive in the regions surrounding the lake, from Somló to Balatonfüred – where the conference will be held.

Badacsony mountain Balaton Hungary
Badacsony mountain at Lake Balaton (Photo: Norbert Varga)

Bring Olaszrizling into the limelight

“The event is a significant step towards the establishment of Balaton, as a wine brand. We have to invite the wine experts, who – thanks to GROW du Monde – have already understood something of the variety, now our duty is to introduce them this unique terroir to help increase our export potential” – added Tamás Tornai, owner of Tornai Winery in Somló, the president of Balaton broader wine region. “This grape gets much less attention than many of its peers, yet it has already proved its potential to give wines of outstanding quality” – said the Serbian founder of GROW, Igor Lukovic, editor-in-chief of Vino i fino magazine. Sasa Spiranec Croatian wine writer, the third founder believes that the producing countries and regions of the variety should communicate with each other, research and develop so that “the whole world should recognize what we already know, the greatness of Olaszrizling and that it has a place among the emblematic grapes of the world”.

4 great Olaszrizling wines from Lake Balaton

Olaszrizling is one of the most versatile grapes of Central Europe. It can give crispy, refreshing summer wines but it is also capable of serious, barrel aged, complex white wines. Let us show four faces of the grape from Lake Balaton.

The refreshing: Tornai Estate Olaszrizling 2022

“One of our most popular grape varieties in a modernized style. In Somló it is usually made in a more serious, often oaky style, so it must be like a fresh breath of air in a warm summer evening. An exciting, versatile wine that can be a perfect company next to light salads with balsamic vinegar and light chicken dishes.

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Tornai Estate Olaszrizling Somló

The limited: Borbély Karós Olasz rizling 2019

Concentrated wine with characteristics of the variety, subtle oak spices and deep reflection of the terroir. Vintage 2019 is especially rich and elegant and in spite of its relatively high acidity and alcohol, it is soft and very pleasant on the palate. The unique fruit of a small, unique plot where the traditional training system was kept.

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Borbély Karós Olaszrizling Badacsony Balaton Hungary

The serious: Fehérvári Nagy-Somlói Olasz Rizling 2021

“Our Grand Reserve Riesling 2021 wine is perhaps one of the most beautiful examples of our mission: to keep Somló human and true, to care for the grapes and to constantly move towards the excitement of innovation.”

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Fehérvári Reserve Olaszrizling Somló Hungary

The elegant

One of the winery’s most important wine is this elegant Olaszrizling. On the nose it has notes of marzipan, almonds, and a hint of mint, rich on the palate, concentrated but harmonious, with dried apple, pear and a touch of minerality. Maturing aromas characterise the palate throughout, with a long and lively finish.

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Homola Olaszrizling Balaton Hungary

More about Olaszrizling grape

It is grown all over Hungary, in fact the most widely planted grape in the country, and popular in the whole Carpathian basin.

It ripens rather late, in good vintages even shrivels. When young, there are flowers on the nose, on the palate full of flavours and there is a little bitter almond note in its aftertaste. It has a pleasant, refreshing acidity. Olaszrizling is capable of long barrel aging.

It was and is mistaken for Rhine Riesling, though it is a completely different grape. Its synonyms include the most common Welschriesling (Austria, Germany), Graševina in Croatia, Laški Rizling in Slovenia. It is quite likely to originate from the Danube basin, though there are numerous other hypotheses. Though it is the most widely planted grape of Hungary, it did not have a good reputation for a long time and while nowadays wonderful examples are easy to find in Hungary both in fresh and aged style.


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