The sommeliers’ choice: the best restaurant in Hungary
Vitorlás restaurant, Balatonlelle
MASOSZ, the Hungarian Sommelier Association has an annual award called Par Excellence, which is given in 5 categories and goes to people, who contribute to Hungarian wine and gastronomic culture continuously at a very high level. The members – the sommeliers – nominate and the chairmanship makes the final decision.
The Par Excellence award winners in 2021:
– Wine Producer of the Year: Ikon Winery, Rádpuszta, South Balaton
– Wine Merchant of the Year: Pampetrics wine store, Keszthely
– Wine Restaurant of the Year: Vitorlás restaurant, Balatonlelle, South Balaton
– Wine Educator of the Year: Kálmán Kozma (former manager of the prestigious Gundel restaurant and jury member of several sommelier competitions
– Wine Writer of the Year: Ágnes Németh – it happens to be me…:)
Vitorlás – sailing upwards
Vitorlás restaurant (the name ‘vitorlás’ means sailboat or yacht) has been open for 23 years, but the great change took place 8 years ago, when decided to be open not only in the high season, but all year round. Lake Balaton region had suffered from bad reputation regarding the hospitality sector, since restaurants were open only in the summer, they operated with high prices and low quality and they did not aim to keep the guests on long term. The solution was obvious: being open all year, even if it is risky and needs investment at the beginning. Vitorlás took the risk, and by now it has become the favourite place of many connoisseurs. Local, seasonal ingredients, creative dishes by chef Dániel Vaszilkó.
Cleverly made wine list
The wine list of Vitorlás is outstanding with Hungarian wines focusing on the local wine region: Balatonboglár. Local wineries are represented by several labels: Konyári Winery, Ikon Winery, Késa Estate (Ikon is the other award winner as mentioned above, managed by Borbála Konyári, whose private estate is Késa and her brother, Dániel Konyári manages the family estate, Konyári Winery). Also from Balatonboglár wine region: Ottó Légli, Géza Légli, Bujdosó Winery, Garamvári Vineyard. Adventurous winelovers can discover wines from small local estates like Kékajtó Winery. The wine list of 80–90 wines contains wines from other Hungarian wine regions as well, mainly red wines, since Balaton is stronger at white wines.
Tamás Nagy, the manager of Vitorlás Restaurant commented: “My favourite winery is Konyári, no question. Dániel Korányi makes the wine of the house for us every year, it is an experimental project trying less known methods or grapes. The outcome is always exciting! And Konyári wines are constantly great whether we try reductive white wines or aged red wines.”
Cheer with local bubbles!
As for sparkling wines, at the moment Vitorlás offers Sauska, Ikon, Légli and Garamvári bubblies. Let us cheer to Vitorlás and the other winners with a sparkling wine from the very same town: Balatonlelle by Garamvári Vineyard.
Garamvári Blanc Fleur 2018 is made of Pinot Blanc. “This grape usually reaches the level of ripeness around mid-September, when the varietal character is fully developed, the acidity is appropriate, and the sugar content is not too high. The base wine is made from this grape, for which we use only the free-run juice. Elegant with its delicate bubbles and purity, its bouquet is typical of summer meadows, while its fruity, citrus flavours evoke true Mediterranean evenings. It has both a white floral and peachy character on the palate and the nose. It provides the consumer with an outstanding experience on its own, but also pairs well with light meals, vegetables, cakes, fruits, fish, and white meat, chilled at 6–7°C.“