We visit Villany, Hungary’s prime wine areas, and do the things you do in such areas.
Although we have not been very impressed by Hungarian wine so far, we cannot leave this country without having visited its most promising wine area – for us, at least, appreciating the dry wine varieties over the sweet wines like those from Tokaj. So we head for Villany, with ample time for some serious tasting, as well.
Driving up to Villany from Pecs, we kept on wondering where the raw material is; normally a wine centre is surrounded by grape vines. Not so here, the grapes are all on the far end of town, between Villany and Siklos. But grapes there are! Most of them have already been harvested, but we encounter enough vine yards with lots of full-grown grapes, spectacularly contrasting with the leaves in autumn colours. Thanks to the bright sunshine and the time of the year, probably one of the nicest walks through a wine area we have ever done.
But we have seen grapes before. The real thing is the tasting, of course. Villany is a lovely village, with one main road, Baros Gabor ucta, running in such a way that the south side of the road is almost the entire day in the sun. Which makes it an ideal place for the many wineries to have their tasting rooms, on that side, and on the pavement. Where even so late in the season still quite a few people were trying wine – or just drinking it, probably locals, who spent almost the entire afternoon in the same place.
We have selected one of the better known brands, Gere Tamas, for our first selection of Villany wines, a standard set of six glasses, mostly red, which were served on the terrace of the winery. What can I say, better than the average wines we have tried so far, but not – as far as we were concerned – take-home-the-boxes types.
The best known winery in town, Bock, we have kept for the late afternoon and evening, starting with a tour through their impressive cellars. In Hungarian, unfortunately, but we have done these type of tours often enough to not miss too much of the details, without actually understanding a word of it – Hungarian is really a language without any recognisable words, to us, completely unintelligible. Luckily, during the tasting we were helped by an English speaking waiter, whose enthusiasm encourages us to taste perhaps a little more than was good for us. One of the problems in Villany is that they grow so many different grapes, from the hardier Portugieser and Blaufrankische to Pinot Noir and Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Malbec. We had a selection of some of the local varieties, like Kadarka, and internationally known grapes, and between them they definitely constituted the best wines we tried during this trip.
And then we topped it with a wonderful dinner, some of the best food we have had here, too. An evening not to forget lightly. Never mind that the morning after was one to forget quickly.
Next: Koszeg, almost on the way home.