• Wine of the Month : Hungry for a Hungarian bargain?

Wine of the Month : Hungry for a Hungarian bargain?

15 March 2016

Wine and travel writer Chris Boiling continues his quest to find Brighton’s most interesting wines. This month he discovered a delicious bargain in a supermarket in Arundel Street...

Wine of the month: Château Dereszla Tokaji Furmint 2015

Winery: Château Dereszla, Bodrogkeresztúr, Hungary

Winemaker: István Bai

Grape variety: Furmint

Alcohol: 12.5%

Tasted: At home

Bought in: Lidl, 45 Arundel St, Brighton BN2 5TB

Price: £5.99

This is a bargain, but it’s only available until the end of spring. It’s from a newly-built winery with an historic cellar in Hungary. And it stars one of my favourite grape varieties, Furmint, a lesser-known half-sibling of Chardonnay and Riesling.

Lidl Furmint

The wine is made by Château Dereszla, the Tokaj region’s second largest producer. The French owner, Patrick D’Aulan and his family, also own wineries in Bordeaux, Argentina and Chile, having sold their Champagne house, Piper Heidsieck, in 1988. Since taking over the Hungarian business in 2000, D’Aulan’s Groupe Edonia has transformed the ancient cellars (the entrance to which is shown on the label) and built a stunning winery at its Henye vineyard, overlooking many of the hills that make up Hungary’s most famous wine region.

The winery is built over four levels, so it can move the must and wine by gravity instead of pumps as it slowly makes its way toward the bottling line 36m underground. The company is also renovating its vineyards and replanting 20ha with its key variety, Furmint, and a little of a relatively new grape called Kabar, which managing director Laszlo Kalocsai calls “a feminine Furmint”.

I was touring the company’s 1,100m-long cellar system (part of which dates back to 1406) and checking out the new winery the day Lidl unveiled its new Hungarian range for UK stores. These nine wines include this off-dry Furmint (£5.99), the aromatic, off-dry Sir Irsai 2015 (£5.99), the Polgár Therápia Villányi Cuvée (a Cabernet Franc dominated red blend, £6.99), the luscious Késői Arany Tokaji 2013 dessert wine (£8.99 for 50cl), an Egri Bikavér 2011 from Juhasz (a very refined version of what used to be better known as Bull’s Blood), and the Mészáros Pál Kékfrankos 2013 from the lovely Szekszárd region (a good example of Hungary’s signature red grape and the main varietal in modern Bikavérs).

These wines are part of Lidl’s current ‘Wine Cellar’ promotion, which aims to introduce customers to “something a little different” and are only available for a limited period while stocks last.

The Château Dereszla Tokaji Furmint 2015 is slightly sweeter than I prefer but it does have the varietal’s characteristic apple and pear aromas and white blossom, pear and herbal flavours. It’s typical of many of the Furmints now being produced in the Tokaj region. Rather than waiting for age to round off some of the grape variety’s bracing acidity, winemakers are halting the fermentation before all the sugar has turned to alcohol. In this case there is 11g/L of sugar left, making it a very pleasant, easy-drinking crowd-pleaser. Especially at this price!

It’s no wonder the Hungarians sing about the wines of Tokay in their national anthem: “Into the vineyards of Tokaj you dripped sweet nectar.” Semi-sweet nectar in this case.

Chris Boiling is the editor of new online wine magazine ywine.press and runs wine tastings for hens, stags and private parties in Brighton.