Last week I was rather excited to spot a Hungarian Pinto Grigio rose on sale in Marks & Spencer in London. I’m not sure how long the British supermarket has been selling it, but I figured I’d give it a try over the weekend while we had some beautiful summer sunshine – even if it didn’t last for long!
The wine is a very delicate pinkish and has the taste of summer berries. It’s lovely and fresh, a very crisp wine, ideal for just sipping on, or with a light summer salad or seafood. We enjoyed it with a seafood platter.
The rose is from the Neszmely region of Hungary, just south of the Danube river. Vines have been grown in the region for 2000 years.
Winemaker: Akos Kamocsay at Hilltop Neszmely winery
I recently delved into my latest box of wine from Laithwaites to find a wonderful surprise in form of a Hungarian Campanula Pinot Grigio 2009. Pinot Grigio, always crisp and delicate, is one of my favourite grapes. However, Campanula offers something a little more. This wine has a superb, golden body, with a hint of sliced apples and citrus fruit. It’s no surprise then that this wine regularly features in Laithwaites’ annual bestseller lists, as well as winning several awards at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. I can’t recommend this bottle highly enough. It’s great for spring. Enjoy a glass with some anti-pasti or a main course of white fish, poultry or veal.
Some days, some weeks, can be tough. I’m spending nearly every minute of every day, bar the six hours (if I’m lucky) sleep I may or may not get each night, working, writing or studying. However, while my days may be busy, they can still be satisfying. This evening I returned home to find 12 random bottles of wine which I have delivered from Laithwaites every four months or so. I love the fact that in most of these boxes, Laithwaites will usually include at least one bottle of wine of Central or East European authority and this month was no exception.
At this time, Pinot Grigio is the world’s most popular white grape. Its most sought-after wines are those from northern Italy, which while are available come at a price. However, go a little further east and one finds the historic vineyards of Hungary are also producing some excellent value, appetising Pinot Grigios like the elegant Baron Lazare.
This crisp white comes from a cellar in the Pazmand region of Etyek founded in 1949, and thoroughly modernised since the fall of communism. This cellar is well-equipped with cool fermentation equipment essential for producing fresh, modern whites, and has won many awards for its efforts. Gabor Laczko is the dynamic young winemaker.
Baron Lazare de Schwendi brought back from Hungary young vines after besieging the town of Tokaj in 1565. He cultivated them on his own land in Kientzheim, near Colmar, where his castle still stands. Baron Lazare de Schwendi is made by veteran winemaker of 40 years, Bardos Benjamin, from the finest Pinot Grigio grapes carefully selected from vineyards surrounding the Nagyrede winery.
The wine itself is medium-bodied, with an attractive, aromatic, floral nose. Well balanced, with lemon notes, Baron Lazare de Schwendi is an ideal aperitif and the perfect accompaniment for poultry or fish. I enjoyed a few glasses with a gorgeous prawn, smoked haddock and salmon fish pie – yum!
I post a lot about vineyards across Eastern Europe that are worth a visit but unfortunately, all too often, it is difficult to get hold of the produce in the UK. However, Waitrose currently stock a wonderful, dry, crisp, white Hungarian wine. It’s perfect for easy drinking, cooking or served with light meats, poultry etc. or fish.
Easy drinking and fruity white from the Hungarian hills.
Made from some of Hungary’s best white varietals, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Királyleányka, and specially blended for an easy fruity style. The winemaker, Eva Keresztury, has given her name to this wine made especially for Waitrose.
I had a friend round one evening to celebrate some good news. I asked her to pour the wine and handed her a bottle of Pinot Grigio I had acquired in a delivery from wine merchants Laithwaites. She diligently poured the wine while I cut up some spring onions, red pepper, fresh bread, and opened some alioli and pate.
“This is Moldovan,” she said.
“No, it’s Italian, it’s a pinot grigio, I had it the other day, it’s quite nice,” I replied.
“No, it says, Wine of the Tsars on it. It’s Moldovan,” she persisted.
She was naturally correct. I had not even noticed. I had even missed the cyrillic writing on the label! I can be pretty blind sometimes!
It is not often I get to talk about wine which is actually available to purchase in the UK but Laithwaites are certainly doing their bit to promote East European wine. Albastrele Pinot Grigio 2006 differs slightly from what one normally considers to be a stereotypical pinot grigio. While most pinot grigio wine is very light and crisp, this is slightly more grapefruity and is a little deeper in colour. However, although I normally go for very crisp, very dry white wine, I thoroughly enjoyed the Albasterle’s take on this classic.