Got a tip about this wine holding its own with Petrus under blind tastings, and figure it's worth a look. I know at least the Greg's might be interested in checking this out if not already known.
US Distributor: Price: $70/bottle
Planning on trying this soon enough, I'll hopefully be reporting back with more on this soon.
Atilla Gere - Solus: Hungary's Star 100% Merlot Wine?
- Reply by Greg Tatar, Aug 13, 2012.
The Gregs? Who are they?
I know that wine pretty well actually. Have had it numerous times over in Hungary.
Holding its own against Petrus? I have zero idea because I only had Petrus once but he Solus is not like I remembered that. I will say however, that the first time I had it, I thought it was a really good wine. It's off-putting to some Americans and I think that's because of the Hungarian oak, which adds a dimension that a lot of people aren't familiar with. But Gere is a really good winemaker in Villány, which some say is one of the best places in Hungary for reds. Hungary does really well with Blaufrankisch, Cab Franc, Merlot and Syrah.
The price on the wine you mention is a bit high however, and that's the big problem. But if you like that, you should look at the wines imported by Blue Danube - it's a company owned by Frank Dietrich and devoted to Hungarian wine. He has the best book for those wines these days. I have no affiliation other than a lot of respect for what he's trying to do.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 13, 2012.
So Blue Danube is the distributor for this wine--is that right? And, if you like this, you will like their other wines? I checked out the site and it seems like this international variety is a departure from BD's portfolio.
Gotta say the dry furmint and the other dry whites I have had from Hungary have been quite good and very reasonably priced. Haven't ventured into the reds, but looks like it is time.
- Reply by JonDerry, Aug 14, 2012.
What vintage of Petrus did you try Greg?
Have to say the 100% Merlot wine from Villany took me by complete surprise, definitely did not expect that...it sounds like Hungary's soil might be better suited to Merlot than CA or WA even. Curious to see how big of an impact or difference the oak has on the wine also.
Likewise, I'm definitely in support of what Blue Danube is doing, another cool discovery. Fox, yes Blue Danube is the importer...value's abound, looking forward to trying more and more of their dry reds as well.
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 14, 2012.
If this is the same Attila who brought a pair of white for me to try 5 years, something I don't recall and a knockout dry furmint, then I can understand the praise.
Didn't buy the wines since they were 25 euro a bottle wholesale. But they were terrific.
- Reply by Greg Tatar, Aug 14, 2012.
Nada. That's a different Attila. Putting out some good stuff too! But different region.
Jon - it was 1998 through a generous friend back when the stuff was an easily-affordable $500 or so a bottle. I thought then the price was a little high. Who knew?
But you can't generalize about Hungary's soil! In its current iteration, Hungary is a large flat plain surrounded by mountains. In the north are the Carpathians and the range extends west and south. Those mountains are the result of volcanic activity and earthquakes, and the plain is the site of an immense ancient lake. The soils are so varied you can't talk about it as a single type. In Burgundy, people talk about the difference between this hillside and that - the terrain of Tokaj is far more varied, particularly since Burgundy is basically made of hills, not mountains. You walk a single vineyard and see streaks of white, of red, of black, because the mountains were lifted up and the sedimentary layers run vertically instead of horizontally. Then there's the loess and the volcanic ash and the lava, so there are all kinds of variations. And that's true of Eger and other mountain areas.
Villány is several hundred miles to the southwest and it's quite different, yet both places produce pretty decent Merlot from very different soils and temperatures. For my mind, the most potential is in the north - Eger can produce some great wine if the bureaucrats get out of the way, but historically, the most renowned reds were from the more western regions.
Remember also that you can adjust for many soils by varying the rootstock - it's not the Merlot or Cab that is actually reacting to the soil after all, it's the rootstock. As far as being a departure - the Hungarians do a lot of Merlot and Cab and "French" varieties. That's subject for a whole article tho!