Hungary is a melting pot of grape varieties. Uniquely local, regional and international grape varieties grow side by side.
Crisp, complex, full of minerality - Hungary's leading grape
Hungary's big promise, Furmint is a grape variety than can produce remarkable white wines with rich minerality, vibrance and solid backbone. Typical fruit flavors are pear, apple and tropical fruits. It's most commonly found in Tokaj and Somló but grows all over the country.
It's like mixing the minerality and acidity of a Riesling, the body and fruitiness of a Chardonnay, and the smooth texture and elegance of a Grüner Veltliner into one grape. But it can't really be compared to anything at all and it comes in many shapes and flavors - it has a unique character and elegance that you simply have to try for yourself!
Harvested early, it makes for crisp, fresh wines, but harvested late, it is also the main component of Tokaji Aszú, Hungary's famous natural sweet wine made of botrytised grapes.
Rich and round with hints of honeysuckle
A grape variety with round and juicy grapes and a fruity, rich style, often with a waxy character. The name means linden leaf, because the leaves resemble those of linden trees (lime trees). It is often blended with Furmint, its round character balancing the minerality of Furmint well. Honey, beeswax and pineapple flavors are commonly associated with wines made from Hárslevelű. It is also most often found in Tokaj and Somló, and it's one of the main varieties used in Tokaji Aszú, along with Furmint and a little bit of Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat).
A fresh and solid all-rounder
The most commonly planted white grape in Hungary, know around Europe as Welshriesling or Italian Riesling. Olaszrizling is a versatile grape and it can be found in pretty much every wine region in Hungary. It's ideal for everyday fresh white wines and is also a great choice for fröccs thanks to its good acidity.
While Furmint is the current favorite to become 'Hungary's next big grape variety', some winemakers are turning towards Olaszrizling to produce serious wines with a rich, oily character similar to that of a good German Riesling. Stone fruits, lime, hay and rocky-mineralic flavors are all often found in Olaszrizling wines. The northern shore of the Lake Balaton is particularly famous for its Olaszrizling wines.
Irsai Olivér (Ir-SHAI Oliver)
Fruity, fresh and light
Irsai Olivér, or Irsai for short, is a relatively new grape variety, first grown in Hungary in 1930. There are many legends about the origin of the name, but it's most likely that the researcher that created the grape variety named it in honor of the newborn son of one of his friends. Irsai Olivér is a fun, fresh wine best drunk young. Low alcohol and lots of fruitiness with fresh grape and tropical fruit flavors make it a great summer wine to enjoy with friends.
Unique, smoky, volcanic
The name Juhfark literally translates as sheep's tail, named after the long, thin shape of the grape bunches. Mostly grown in Somló and on the northern shores of the Lake Balaton, Juhfark has a relatively reserved style, producing wines with a mild aroma and crisp, intense acidity. It's especially good at bringing out the flavors of the volcanic soils it's usually grown in, and it can age for many years. Legend has it that drinking Juhfark from Somló (Somlói Juhfark) on a wedding night will ensure that the newlyweds' first child will be a boy.
Ancient grape producing crisp wines
An old and almost-forgotten grape variety producing smoky, volcanic wines, grown mostly in North Balaton. Unlike most grape varieties, Kéknyelű (literally meaning blue stem because of the vine's color) only exists as a female plant and must be pollinated by a male in order to produce grapes. It's a fickle grape with a low yield, so there are very few wineries that grow it, but it's great at showing the real terroir of volcanic wine regions like Badacsony, which lies north of the Lake Balaton.
Browse all Kéknyelű wines >>>
Other white grape varieties
There are many more interesting local white grape varieties in Hungary, from fresh and fruity grapes such as Királyleányka and Leányka, to more mineralic wines with grassy, green flavors (Budai Zöld). Other autochtonous grape varieties go under (usually unpronouncable) names such as Zengő, Zéta, Arany Sárfehér or Csabagyöngye. International grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are also commonly found all over Hungary.
THE Central European red grape variety
Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) is the red grape variety of Central Europe. It is grown all over Hungary and produces everything from mellow, earthy wines in Sopron to spicy, rich and peppery wines in Szekszárd or Villány.
Mellow, elegant and mysterious
Kadarka is one of the oldest grape varieties in Hungary. Fragile and fickle, it's hard to get right, and winemakers are still just finding their way with this grape. Those who succeed, however, have created some amazing wines reminiscent of the best Burgundy. Like a good Pinot Noir, Kadarka is low in alcohol and tannins, elegant, filled with earthy, mossy notes and sour cherries. A grape variety that is searching for its way.
A fresh everyday red
Usually consumed young and often used for the new wine of the season, Portugieser is Hungary's answer to Beaujolais. Traditionally known as 'Oportó', the name was recently changed to the international 'Portugieser' due to EU regulations. Fresh and light, Portugieser is a great everyday wine – although we've seen some amazing high-end Portugiesers from a few winemakers lately, for example from Horst Hummel in Villány.
An international grape with a Hungarian style
While Cabernet Franc is commonly grown around the world, it usually only play a minor role in blends next to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon or other varieties. However, in the South of Hungary, especially in the Villány region, Cabernet Franc produces fruity, well-balanced reds even on its own, and "Villányi Franc" is now becoming the flagship wine of the region.
Other red grape varieties
Many more red varieties grow in Hungary, from international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah to near-forgotten indigenous varieties such as Turán or Medoc Noir.