Unique Hungarian wines in Berlin
Interview with Szabolcs Lux of Noble Rot Wine Bar in Berlin
“Small handcraft wineries, unique wines and as close to nature as possible” – this is the concept of the Hungarian & German Wine Bar of Noble Rot in Berlin. The small wine bar has been operating successfully for almost 6 years now in Berlin and has become a well-known spot for wine lovers across the city.
Noble Rot Weinbar
Gärtnerstr. 6 (near Boxhagener Platz)
10245 Berlin Friedrichshain
Phone: +49 30 22 60 03 77
Facebook: noble rot weinbar berlin
Noble Rot currently offers 31 wines by the glass and around 200 wines by the bottle.
– Noble Rot is a wine bar selling German and Hungarian wines. Where did the concept come from?
– The wine bar concept was my idea, to which I involved a business partner, Johannes Seidl, who had been running a successful German restaurant in Charlottenburg before. He has brought a lot of gastronomic experience and nevertheless he is an excellent chef. Today the team consists of 5 people, we have been working together for a long time, and we cherish working together. I organize team buildings regularly to Hungary where we visit wine regions, wineries together, we meet our winemaker partners and taste, learn together. This spring we visited Eger and Tokaj, last year the beautiful Szent György mountain at Lake Balaton. Next year we are planning to discover the volcanic slopes of the Mátra mountain. It is key to our success to have a personal relationship with the winemakers, to understand their background, motives, goals and ideas. This way we can fully support their products and can of course sell the wines much more efficiently.
– I know that you travel a lot to Hungary – this is why I became interested in Noble Rot. I saw a photo of you with Krisztina Csetvei in Mór.
– Krisztina is our newest found. My good friend Bence Ducsák introduced me to her, who is – by the way – soon opening his own wine shop “Csóka Vinotéka” in Budapest, Hungary. Krisztina quickly became a “fan” favourite for our regulars with her unique and rare wines; varieties that don´t grow elsewhere like Ezerjó, amphora ageing, no chemicals. She is a great ambassador for our whole concept: small handcraft wineries, unique wines and as close to nature as possible. We love working with her.
My goal was to put together an always changing wine list with an outstanding selection, rarities, surprises – even to Hungarians. I have lived in Berlin for nearly 20 years, there is a significant Hungarian community in the city. It is a great feeling to have created a spot in Berlin where we, Hungarians can feel at home.
Our wines are not mass produced wines, like I mentioned, we prefer natural wines made with the least intervention and free from pesticides. This is very important. Since we are in direct contact with each producer – so we do not buy from a wholesaler – our guests are likely to find rarities on our wine list that they could only try directly at the winery or in Noble Rot Weinbar.
– Are you happy with your recent portfolio?
– Yes, I am very proud of the wine selection. And most importantly, we are proudly representing Hungarian wines. I am aware of our responsibility; we are not only a wine bar, but we are ambassadors for Hungarian wine in general! Think about it, if a German or a foreign guest tastes a glass of Hungarian wine, and the product is not good enough, he will likely have a negative opinion about Hungarian wines in general. We feel this responsibility, therefore there is not a single wine on our wine list that I could not recommend with the whole of my heart. It takes a lot of work to put together a wine list like this, we selected the cellars very carefully and we are proudly working with them.
– What are your top selling grape varieties and products?
– Difficult question, maybe Furmint or Hárslevelű. The top selling wineries are 2HA (“2 Hectare” Vineyard and Winery by Csaba Török on Szent György Mountain, Badacsony wine region), Páger Cellar in Mátra, Bott Cellar, Péter Cellar and Holdvölgy Wine Estate from Tokaj and Ipacs-Szabó Estate from Villány wine region.
Our name, Noble Rot comes from the botrytised berries for Tokaji Aszú, therefore we (currently) offer 5 Tokaj sweet wines by the glass. We are absolutely unique in that aspect; we pair the Tokaj wine rarities with cakes, chocolates or cheeses. Our latest surprise for our guests is a true treasure; 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú made of Sárgamuskotály grape from the vintage 1999! – by the glass of course.
– Who are your customers?
– Most of our guests are locals, though many of them are expats, who live in Berlin. Daily we welcome 2-3 Hungarian speaking parties – we are really glad about that. By today Noble Rot has become a meeting place for Hungarians living in Berlin. As in every big city, mostly in the summer times, a lot of tourists visit us as well. They can choose between our Hungarian and German wine selection. We believe the two countries complement each other really well, there is a great balance between the German Pinot Noir and a fuller Hungarian red on the list. We love changing things up, you have to follow the changes in the market; customers need something else, something unknown, something exciting. As much as we appreciate the wines of other countries, the combination of Hungary and Germany is just so unique and adds up to a really eclectic portfolio.
– You are open every day though it is not typical of wine bars.
– Yes, we are open every day from 5 pm and on Sunday we open as early as 3 pm. The closing is “open end”, but we usually close around 1 am. There is a cute market open on Sunday next to us; it is a super idea to combine the market visit with a glass of wine at Noble Rot. Several wine bars are closed on Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays, so we decided to be the wine bar in Berlin to count on every day. Meanwhile Mondays have become very popular; many hospitality workers, sommeliers and waiters come to enjoy a bottle of wine on their days off in our bar. I always recommend our guests to reserve a table on our website.
– Do you have any tasting events?
– Yes, we do and we always promote these events on social media, on our Insta and Facebook page.
– Can you make a living from this bar or do you have a “normal job”?
– Noble Rot is providing full time engagement for three of us. Two other colleagues help us out in the long run. We love working together, the team is amazing. I have never even dared to dream of such a fantastic team that I have now.