James Suckling at Sauska Tokaj in Hungary 2023

James Suckling’s global report on Hungary

The top expert’s report was published on 23 October–on the day when Hungarian people commemorate the revolution of 1956 against the Communist oppressors. The report came out with a huge number of tasting notes therefore this article is a marvellous gift on our national holiday. What is more: 257 of the 279 presented wines received 90 points or more.

The summary is based on several trips to Hungary, and it could not have happened without the owners and the team of Sauska estate. (The cover photo above was taken at Sauska estate, Tokaj.)

“With what we rated this year and what I tasted from barrel, good to outstanding quality bottles of Hungarian wines are on the horizon in key international wine markets. It’s only a matter of time when more people try them, and many bottles will most likely be dry and local, such as kékfrankos and furmint.”

“But why hasn’t kekfrankos made a name for itself in Hungary?”

The question is answered in the article, partially by presenting two Bikavér producers. He mentions György Lőrincz (St Andrea) and Tibor Gál, since Suckling visited both estates in the summer and both agree that Kékfrankos is brilliant in blends. St Andrea Agapé Bikavér Grand Superior 2018 is the most highly rated red wine in the report with 98 points. “Tibor Gál, who makes handmade and modern wines with his siblings in subterranean cellars in the heart of the town of Eger, also believes in kékfrankos. But he thinks it’s best in his blends under the appellation Bikaver, which allows fellow wine producers to use other grapes such as kadarka or even syrah or cabernet sauvignon. However, kekfrankos must be the majority of the blend” – writes Suckling, who rated Tibor Gál Síkhegy Bikavér Grand Superior 2018 high as well, with 95 points.

Gál Tibor Egri Bikavér Síkhegy Grand Superior Eger Hungary
Gál Tibor Síkhegy Egri Bikavér Grand Superior

Sauska Tokaji Medve Furmint – one of the white tops

Regarding dry white wines, there are 3 wines with the highest 96 points: a Szepsy, a Demeter and a Sauska wine. Suckling highlights Sauska Tokaji Medve Furmint 2022 in the text saying that it showed precise and focused character of the wine. “Attractive aromas of candied lemons and stone fruit with hints of nougat and beeswax. Some chamomile, too. Medium- to full-bodied with a lovely center palate. Complex with creamy texture yet keeping steady acidity, holding the nerve and focus on the center palate. Some flinty minerality to it. Complete and steady. Well-made. Drink or hold.”

Sauska Medve Tokaji Furmint Tokaj Hungary

Sweet – not only Tokaj

The sweet wine with the highest score is Royal Tokaji Essencia 2009 with 99 points! The “nectare”, the low alcohol, natural sweet wine of Tokaj deserves its throne, no doubt. Among the top-rated sweet wines, we can find Tokaji Aszú wines from Oremus, Sauska, Szepsy – and there is one non-Tokaj dessert wine from Feind Winery in Balatonfüred wine region. Feind Balaton Choice 2018 made of the indigenous Zeus grape has already collected some acknowledgement, now here is 93 scores from James Suckling: “Notes of dried apricots and cooked peaches with spices and dried flowers. Full and creamy with moderate sweetness and vivid acidity that gives it freshness and energy. Flavorful finish. Solid and lengthy.”

Feind Choice sweet wine Balaton

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