The Danube is a very big river indeed, nearly 1,200 miles long. It rises in Germany, then travels East through Austria and along the border between Slovakia and Hungary, it then turns South across the centre of Hungary to become the Croatia/Serbia border. Then it loops East again to divide Romania and Bulgaria, before becoming the Southern border of Moldova as it drains into the Black Sea.

Danubemap
If you examine the wine areas the river influences, they are more restricted. There are few notable areas in Germany, but the river’s transit through North East Austria involves many Austrian wine area: Wachau; Kremstal; Kamptal; Transental; Wagram; Wien & Carnutum.

As for other countries – although the river influences borderland wine areas in Bulgaria and Romania – it runs through the centre of Hungary, and as WING members were particularly keen to concentrate on that country, it’ll be our primary focus for the tasting…

So (perhaps in a yearning for long-lost Empire) this month’s tasting will focus on Austria and Hungary. There will be 4 wines from areas near the Danube, (including two from Hungary and two from Austria) and two more from more widely dispersed Hungarian areas.

In Hungary – the Danube cuts right through the central plain of the country and touches several wine regions:
Hungary Wine-regions
Észak-Dunántúl (including Mór, Etyek-Buda & Neszmély) on the West Bank from near the Slovakian border to West of Budapest;

Duna (Hajós-Baja, Kunság & Csongrád) -on the plain between the Danube and the Tisza rivers, South East of Budapest towards the Serbian border. These areas produce 44% of all Hungarian wine – towards the “white plonk” end!

Pannon (Tolna, Pécs, Szekszárd & Villány) on the West Bank, South towards the Croatian Border. The most promising area for red wine!

However, although these regions contribute 62% of Hungarian wine there are other areas. Sopron in the far West towards Austria and Eger (inc. Mátra & Bükk) – East of Budapest, make about 18%. While Lake Balaton and its sub areas produce about 13%, mainly well-structured whites and – most famously of all – Tokaj, in the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains in the North East.

Hungarian wine is 70% white, mostly dry, but the two most famous wines are a big red and a very sweet white. Bull’s Blood was invented in Eger where it is known as  Egri Bikavér. The wine is elegant red blend of Kékfrankos (= Blaufränkisch in Austria) and one or two Bordeaux grapes. The blend is now more often just labelled Bikavér or, since 2004, better wines as Bikavér Superior, although associated with Eger, many of the best examples actually come from Szekszárd.

The most famous of all Hungarian wines is Tokaji, a sweet wine based on late picked, botrytised Furmint grapes. It is startlingly sweet and startlingly expensive; good examples start at £25 for ½ litre, so beyond our range in this tasting. Increasingly, dry examples are appearing from this, vaguely-Riesling-ish, grape – and we will try one of those.

If you want to know more about Hungarian Wine check out this website: http://www.abouthungarianwine.com/

Tasting notes from the tasting will be posted in 3 or 4 days –

Until then…

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