Heavenly Hungarians; Part 2 – Have some Somló!

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What kind of wine consumer are you? Do you buy your wine the very same day as you pop it? Or do you keep a stock at home, to chose from? Category one? Please read another post. Category two? Make sure there are some Somló in that collection of yours!

So, welcome Category two reader! I’m the volcano guy. Where there is underground activity, or has been, you will find me. Somló is no exception. The volcano, 431 meters above the sea level,is today extinct. At least that is what the experts say. The soil is mostly about basalt, tuff if you’re higher up on the hill. More clay and loess at the base. Vines are today cultivated on all sides of the old volcano. You will find Somló roughly 150 km southwest of Budapest and around 30 km west of Veszprém.

As always when it comes to vines….never underestimate the importance of water. Somló is close to the Lake Balaton, a lake which shares several similarities with its,  not that far away Austrian counterpart, Lake Neusiedlersee. Both are shallow for example.

I guess several of you reading this post hasn’t even heard of Somló, Hungary’s smallest wine region. And those of you who has, probably relates it to one specific grape; Juhfark (more on that in another post). Still, you will find much more Olaszrizling than Juhfark, probably Furmint and Hárslevelü as well.

So, why haven’t you bumped in to Somló before? Easy! There’s no volume and furthermore it is one of the best kept secrets of the Hungarians as well!

One of the stars of Somló is Kreinbacher. Tasting the 2009 Kőkonyha confirms this. Sure, the guy likes to age his wines in barrique which can be something of a sensitive subject when it comes to volcano wines, but in this case it only adds depth and an almost Burgundy like similarity. If it weren’t for the differing micro-climatic conditions adding that smoky and unique acidity feel to the wines. The 2009 Kőkonyha is a premium blend of Kreinbacher, consisting of equal parts of Furmint, Hárslevelu and Olaszrizling and yes sadly, this is very limited in production.

I’m following the 2009 during three days and it keeps changing character. A bit shy from the start before unfolding with wet rocks, yellow fruits, lime peel, summer flowers and some toasted oak. Extremely skilled use of oak. Some white peaches as well. Kind of Burgundy meets Burgenland and lands on a Hungarian volcano. On the second and third day, it turns mineral driven and the fruit becomes more restrained. Just love it!

On the palate it is not Burgundy like at all. The fruit is not more generous but the palate is fatter. Ripe yes, but it never loses the acidity grip. Obviously, someone who knows when to harvest….Oranges, peaches, wet rocks, some oak. It feels ripe and generous but still restrained in style. Long, clean yellow fruit finish. One of those wines that leaves you with a feeling of wanting more because you just need to find out what happens the next sip.

There’s a Syrah also you know. Again, think ripe fruit and combine that with a restrained mineral feeling. The 2009 Syrah from Kreinbacher is a real seducer although very young. Needs lots of time to unfold. After a few hours you have the smoked scents, cured meat, a herbal touch, bay leaves, blackberries and raspberries balancing on the edge of not becoming jammy and a slight violet scent. Toasted oak as well with vanilla, ground coffee and some dark chocolate.

A real mouth feel with ripe dark berries, cured meat, spices and delicious acidity backing up. Oak yes, but with time it integrates. Good tannin grip as well. Long, balanced finish. Give it a few years to settle. Still, if 220-liters barriques scares the s-t out of you then perhaps you shouldn’t bother on this one.

Tasted: 2009 Kreinbacher Birtok, Kőkonyha, Somló, Hungary
Tasted: 2009 Kreinbacher Birtok, Syrah, Somló

PS. For photographs of the Somló Hill, check out Kreinbacher’s site.

PS.2. Samples provided by Kreinbacher. Thanks a lot guys!

Buy it here. If you can’t find Kreinbacher then don’t give up. It’s worth some chasing. Actually, that goes for the whole of Somló!

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  • http://redscreamandriesling.blogspot.com/ Red Scream

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this Niklas! :-)

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