A guide to the best Hungarian wines to buy now

If you’re familiar with the wines of Hungary, it’s more likely their whites and fabled sweet wines than their reds. After all, this is the country whose north-eastern Tokaj region gave us one of history’s most celebrated wines, beloved of Louis XIV and Catherine the Great: the sweet nectar known as Tokaji Aszú with its evocative apricot notes and brilliant natural acidity. Aszú denotes grapes that have shrivelled and concentrated on the vine due to botrytis, the ‘noble rot’ that once thrived in the region’s cool humidity. However, a dwindling demand for dessert wines and less reliable botrytis in today’s warmer, drier vintages have encouraged ambitious Tokaj winemakers to experiment with a dry wine from the region’s ancient Furmint variety, to popular and powerful effect.

ou’ll find decent examples for under €20 (Chateau Dereszla in Mitchell & Son, or Disznókó in O’Brien’s) but if you can spend more, things get even more interesting — and offer real value relative to top Burgundy wines. Today’s dry Furmint from Dobogó comes from the first growth vineyard, Úrágya; look also in the likes of Blackrock Cellar and The Corkscrew for waxy and mineral expressions from the Szent Tamás vineyard, officially classified as first growth in the 1730s under royal decree to delimit these top vineyards and protect them from poor-quality pretenders (beating Bordeaux’s demarcation by well over a century).

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