The Tokaj region, home to the famous Tokaji-Aszú dessert wine lies 240 kilometres north-east of Budapest, situated in the Zemplén Mountains. Even though Tokaj is best known for its sweet wines, between 40 and 60 percent of the wines produced here annually are dry, depending on the weather. More dry wines will be produced in years where the weather conditions aren’t good for producing the “noble rot” that turns grapes into what are called “aszú berries”. Six grape varieties are officially approved for Tokaji wine production: Furmint, Hárslevelű, Yellow Muscat (Hungarian: Sárgamuskotály), Zéta (previously called Oremus – a cross of Furmint and Bouvier grapes), Kövérszőlő, Kabar (a cross of Hárslevelű and Bouvier grapes).
Szekszárd is 150 km south of Budapest and 70 kilometres north of Villány, which area is Hungary’s other great red wine region. The Szekszárd vineyards have been noted for their wines since Roman times and for red wines since the 15th century. This region is one of the strongholds of Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and the Bordeaux varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Nowadays, white wines play a less important role in viniculture in the Szekszárd region. Whites are mostly made from Chardonnay, Tramini and Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), and those whites are typically higher in alcohol content and supported by softer acidity. The reds are generally full-bodied, spicy yet elegant, with plenty of lively acidity. Szekszárd, along with Eger, is also one of the two regions to produce Bikavér, “Bulls Blood” wine.
The Villány wine region is about 220 km south of Budapest. This is the southernmost wine region in Hungary and it has the longest length of sunshine hours in the country, allowing it to produce full-bodied Bordeaux style red cuvees. It stretches around 25 kilometres across the south-facing slopes of the Villány Hills covered mostly with volcanic soil. The region has 2,476 hectares of planted vineyards. The wineries of Villány are not only producing great wines, but they have also built a supportive hospitality and tourist industry for their amazing vineyards. The wine-makers in this region are producing both single varietal and blended wines in outstanding quality. Native grapes are grown in volcanic soils, they include Portugesier and Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch), but many producers opt to focus on red Bordeaux varieties, like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Somló, the smallest of Hungary’s 22 wine regions, lies on the slopes of the Somló Mountain. It is situated in western Hungary, towards the north of the western reaches of Lake Balaton. Somló is an extinct volcano with basalt-rich and sand soils. Only white wines are produced in the Somló region and this is the only wine region in the country where grapes are grown on the northern slope of a hill. Somló’s traditional wines are full-bodied barrel fermented, age-worthy whites with distinct mineral notes balanced with considerable acidity. The flagship grape is Juhfark, but Furmint, Hárslevelü, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), Tramini and Chardonnay also perform well here. 80 hectares out of a global total of 100 hectares are planted in this region.
Eger is a beautiful city filled with historical sites and the wine region surrounding it is a semi volcanic wine region in northeastern Hungary. The whole region is about 5,160 hectares (12,750 acres). The most predominant soil types are the volcanic rhyolite and andesitic tuff. This wine region is one of the few in Hungary that are producing excellent white and red wines as well. The most famous wine from this region is the Bikavér, “Bulls Blood”, which is strictly controlled by wine laws. Eger’s most important red varietals are Kékfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Blauburger, Zweigelt, Portugieser, and Pinot Noir. As for the whites, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling and Leányka are the most common white grapes in the Eger region.