Vision, Grand Bleu and Barbár – great wines at Michelin star Essência
Two Budapest restaurants have been newly awarded One Michelin star, thus now there are 7 restaurants in the Hungarian capital with one Michelin star. (Onyx, the only 2 star restaurant is under reconstruction). With this – relatively big number of the prestigious stars – Budapest is undoubtedly the culinary Mecca of the former “Eastern Bloc countries” (Croatia has 10 restaurants with One Michelin star, but only one in Zagreb, the capital).
Overview of Michelin stars of the region
Croatia: 10 One Michelin star restaurants
Hungary: 7 One Michelin star restaurants, 1 Two Michelin star (under contruction)
Slovenia: 5 One Michelin star restaurants, 1 Two Michelin star
Czech Republic: 2 One Michelin star restaurants
Poland: 1 One Michelin star restaurant
Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine – no stars yet.
From childhood memories with modern top gastronomy
The two newly awarded restaurants are Essência and Salt. Now we are introducing Essência, a restaurant run by a Portuguese–Hungarian couple, Tiago & Éva. “The menus at this stylish and warmly run restaurant are a joyful celebration of both their nationalities. Dishes are assured and balanced, service is attentive – and if you sit in the front section, you can watch the chefs in action in the open kitchen.” – comments the newly released Michelin Guide Budapest 2021. “It soon turned out that in spite of speaking different mother tongues, we share the same love language: we are both obsessed with delicious food. Along with our love, a dream began to take shape: a restaurant that would combine the tastes evoking our – Portuguese and Hungarian – childhood with modern top gastronomy in an informal still elegant style” – write Éva and Tiago about their philosophy.
A wine list selected with love
Taking a closer look at the wine list of Essência, we can see that the couple takes part in the wine selection along with sommelier Zsolt Bartalics. There is a great Portuguese wine selection, which can be tempting enough for all the fans of the Iberian country. There is an international wine selection for those, who avoid adventures and stick to the well known top names. And, what is the most is exciting for us, is the Hungarian wine selection with small estates to discover (for example Barcza estate from Somló) and renowned names with undoubtedly stunning wines. Let us give some examples.
Vision – a dry Tokaj by Holdvölgy
Holdvölgy (‘Moonvalley’) estate names all its wine with expressive names like Meditation, Intuition, Exaltation. Vision is a dry blend, indeed a vision of the estate. “The sixth vintage of our estate selection is vibrant and unique. The innocently opening aromas of Williams pear, cedar and quince dazzle us immediately. On the palate its pure and vigorous with pineapple and pink grapefruit notes leading the way to balanced pear flavour. Round, elegantly structured and complex wine with infinite length of flavour.”
The complex wine pairs well with the sophisticated plates of Essência, for example with one of the mediterranean specialities of the place, the octopus with beluga lentils and tomato salsa.
More about Holdvölgy and its wines
Heimann Barbár 2017 – far from being barbarian
The owner of the Szekszárd winery is far from being barbarian, if fact Zoltán Heimann is one of the most educated wine growers with a huge knowledge of literature and art (actually, the wine Barbár is named after a piano piece called Allegro Barbaro written by the preeminent Hungarian composer Béla Bartók). However, Zoltán Heimann is tall and strong, he wears a beard and he has a sense of humour enough to make fun of himself – thus when this wine debuted, he painted his face as a barbarian. Yet the wine is sophisticated and elegant in spite of its big body. A blend of the best lots, a flagship wine made of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tannat and Kékfrankos. Try it with the duck liver terrine, caramelized onion, forest fruits.
More about Heimann Family Estate
KNW Grand Bleu 2012 – fruit of an excellent vintage
This 100% Kékfrankos wine comes from the top (500m) of Grand Cru Nagy Eged Vineyard in Eger wine region. Now the current vintage is 2013, but in some places we can find the 2012, just like at Essência. It was an outstanding year, so we had better not to miss any opportunities to taste the fruit of it – not many bottles are left, since only 2397 bottles were made.
“The dense colour is followed with concentrated aromas of nutmeg, allspice, black cherry and tobacco. These aromas are continued on the palate by flavours of plum, black cherry and plain chocolate, all tied together with balanced acids and silky tannins. Long and very pleasant finish.” It might be a decent partner of a dinner course, for example the beef with ‘sztrapacska’ (potato dumplings) and dill.
More about Kovács Nimród Winery