Those familiar with the white wines of Hungary are likely acquainted with the famed sweet Tokaji Aszú wines or dry versions of Furmint. Two-thirds of Hungarian wine is white, much of it from indigenous grapes that haven’t made their way into the global market. Increasingly, however, the country is noted for its Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner and a new white blend from the Egri region.
This French native is well suited to several of Hungary’s 22 wine regions, specifically cold-weather growing areas with relatively long ripening seasons. You’re most likely to find bottles from Villány, Pécs, Etyek-Buda and areas around Balaton, as well as the Eger region, which produces the Kovács Nimród Battonage Monopole Chardonnay. Much of the Chardonnay produced in the country is aged in Hungarian oak barrels, which impart spice and toast notes to flavors of apple, lemon and pineapple. In Etyek-Buda, the grape is also used to make traditional method sparkling wine.
The most widely planted wine grape in Austria, it’s no surprise that Grüner Veltliner is also found in neighboring Hungary. Known here as Zöld Veltlini, it grows around Lake Balaton and in the Mátra, Kunság, Tolna and Pannon wine regions, the latter of which is home to Count Károlyi Grüner Veltliner. It’s usually made in a dry style, with just a tiny bit of residual sugar that adds a touch of ripeness to lemon and lime flavors and brilliant acidity.
From the Eger region, Egri Csillag is a white blend whose moniker means “Star of Eger.” It was created in 2010 and has been pioneered by producers like Gál Tibor Winery. It’s a white companion to the better-known Egri Bikavér, Hungarian for “Bull’s Blood,” and must be made from at least four grapes. Half of the blend must be native varieties like Furmint, Hárslevelü, Leánkya and Királyleánkya, but non-Hungarian grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris are also allowed. Most examples have bold, floral aromatics alongside flavors of tropical fruit and citrus.