The ICC group met on Thursday 8th October for the start of the 22nd YMCA/ICC Wine Tasting Season. To kick things off for this landmark season (you’ll have to wait 9 months to discover what the landmark is…) we tasted Wines from Austria and Hungary – you might say “the Empire strikes back”!?.

GRŰNER VELTLINER “FREIHEIT” 2010 (Nigl) Senfendorf, Kremstal – 11½% (Gauntley’s – £12)
Grapefruit, spice and a peachy, green-tinged (greengage?) fruit on the nose. Hints soft fruit followed by high – but controlled – acidity of grapefruit pith, and a warm spicy (even pepper) finish. A very good, integrated and evolved GV!.
Ratings: Quality: 16/20     Value: 17/20

KÉKNYELŰ 2014 (Laposa) Badacsonyi, Lake Balaton – 12½% (Mephisto – £14.50)
A new grape to me with a complex nose showing warm lemon-peel notes, then softer apricot and then hazel-nut oiliness and finally pears, which eventually overwhelms the other flavours. The palate has warm spirity fruit with a frizzy stony quality – aging resolving to pears. Very odd, and interesting.
Ratings: Quality: 16/20     Value: 16/20

LŐCSE FURMINT 2011 (Béres)   Tokaj – 15%  (Mephisto – £16)
Dark golden colour. Wood! Linseed oil, a little vanilla and a sweet, coconut, hint with some baked apple notes. Palate has a warm, spirit, sherry woody quality. Big and able to cope with very strong cheese, for example. Another oddity, and if you like this sort of thing, showing some depth and quality.
Ratings: Quality: 15/20     Value: 15/20

DANARIS BLAUER ZWEIGELT 2013  Kremstal – 13% (Laithwaites – £10.50)
This has Germoline notes, simple fruit – almost like a Gamay – a slight floral lift and some wood. Palate is simple with sweet red fruit and a herby element. A washing-down-pizza wine of acceptable quality.
Ratings: Quality: 13/20     Value: 14/20

CABERNET FRANC 2012 (Bock) Villány – 14%   (Mephisto – £16)
Herby hints with plum fruit and a warm claret, earthy, character. Palate has warm bay-leaf tannins and a red-fruit acid supporting supple plums – good depth and length.. The wine hasn’t the green pepper expected in a 100% Cabernet Franc, but would pass for a pretty good right bank Claret. Very enjoyable, good!
Ratings: Quality: 17/20     Value: 17/20

BIKAVÉR RESERVE 2009 (Takler) Szekszárd – 13½% (Mephisto – £21)
This Bull’s Blood of old has a quiet nose initially, opening to give gamey notes, then sweet black fruit and salty herbs. The palate is very concentrated, with salt, plums, blackberry and warm bay leaf… Rather a Syrah package in this wine which is mainly Kekfrankos, Merlot and Cabernet. Pretty big and pretty good.
Ratings: Quality: 17/20     Value: 15/20

All very interesting, and although the Danube provides a narrative ribbon to connect these wines it’s only really the first, Grűner Veltliner, that is actually influenced by the river. That comes from the hills behind Krems, looking South over the Danube which provides cool nights and fresh acidity in the wine. I know this GV since youth and the rounding and integration of the acidity of youth is now delightfully complete. Other than that the Hungarian wines are notable for their own individual styles.

Until next time…