Sweet captivity in Garamvári cellar
Locked with the Best Wines of Balaton
By Ágnes Németh
This June I had the chance to take some foreign wine experts to Garamvári cellar in Budafok (a district of Budapest), where the bottle fermented sparkling wines are made. We tasted some of the superb bubblies and also some still wines from the Balaton vineyards of Garamvári. We were fascinated by the wines, especially by Sínai Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, which won the Best Red Wine of Balaton award this summer.
Balaton wine contest is held annually, this year the 19th edition took place. Balaton is the so called “broader wine region” including 6 wine regions, namely: Balatonfüred–Csopak, Balatonboglár, Balaton Uplands, Badacsony, Somló and Zala wine regions. Samples came from all places, altogether 67 producers sent 260 wines. The president of the jury was Dr. Attila Fiáth, a renowned wine expert of Hungary. Garamvári Vineyards won 2 trophies out of the 5: white and red. The Best White Wine of Balaton is Garamvári Lellei Cserszegi Fűszeres 2021.
Night in the cellar
On that June evening Miklós Gáspár, the commercial manager and co-owner of the winery hosted us along with Péter Baranyai, the winemaker. Last year Péter won the Most Successful Winemaker titleat VinAgora international wine contest based on the number of medals his wines won. We visited the long underground cellar and then the sumptuous tasting began. We started with the above mentioned award winning Lellei Cserszegi Fűszeres 2021. I personally think that this aromatic variety is not an easy job. It is if one wants to make an overwhelmingly aromatic wine, but the real challenge is to keep those aromas and flavours on leash, to achieve restrained, elegant wine in which the aromas do not roll down the drinker.
Balaton is not famous for its red wines, though the recent trend of lighter, fruitier red wines favours the region. We tasted Sínai Cabernet Franc 2018 and we loved it, it was balanced, elegant, its bright acidity makes it refreshing and the ample amount of red fruits are dominant all over the sip. Also spicy and herbal, a really complex wine. Then came the winner Sínai Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. The vineyard, Sínai mountain takes its name from the Bible and it is the most prestigious vineyard of the estate planted in 1997, the altitude is 224 metres. There is strict yield control and the resulting fruit goes to the best wines of the winery. The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in first and second use barriques and large barrels for 20 months, the barrel notes are finely integrated. Plums, blackberry, fine spices, chocolate, tobacco, velvety structure, medium plus body, complex finish. And the price? It costs 4850 HUF, only around 12 euros!
10-year-memory of Prestige Brut
Certainly we tasted some bottle fermented sparkling wines and at the end the crown arrived: a Prestige Brut Magnum 2008. It was a real surprise for Julia Scavo champion sommelier, who was in our group. “I was happy to taste the line-up after 10 years, when I first met these sparkling wines during the Central-European Sommelier Championship in Dunakiliti. I remember the last task during the finals which I won in 2012 was serving a magnum of the former label Chateau Vincent – The Prestige Brut in a line-up of flute glasses. We went back home with one of those magnums which we opened in 2013. Last night’s magnum of Prestige Brut revived that souvenir.“ The magnum was in great shape, still fresh yet so rich and layered, there could not have been a happier ending…
In fact there almost have been: when we were about to leave, we called our taxis, but we could not get out! The gate was closed and the key disappeared! Well, you can see on our faces that we were not frightened at all. Locked until some locksmith arrives? No problem. He can come only in the morning? Well, we can survive… Finally, fortunately or unfortunately the gate opened and we left with great memories and fine aftertaste in our mouth.