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Somló

somlo picSomló is Hungary’s smallest wine region, comprising 599 hectares. It is situated in the North-west of Hungary in Veszprém county. The wine region is on the slopes three extinct volcanoes, which gives the wines a unique smokey nose and palate. Wines from the Somló region are white and typically made from Hárslevelű, Furmint, Juhfark, Olaszrizling, Traminer and Chardonnay.

In the past, the region consisted of large vineyards owned by the nobility or religious institutions, such as monasteries, whereas now it is dominated by small plots, many of which belong to hobby winemakers.

The climate is moderate, with a mild winter and an early spring. Summer temperatures rarely reach above 25 degrees Celsius and the autumns are warm sunny, thus providing ideal ripening conditions for the grapes. The basalt of the hills retain the heat and act as storage heaters on chilly days.

In the past, the wines of Somló were said to have rivalled those of Tokaj. Indeed it is said that many Habsburg kings and emperors enjoyed the wines of Somló.

As a result of the basalt, loess and sandy soils, the moderate windy climate and traditional, oxidative wine-making, the wines tend to have a unique acidic, mineral taste and usually age well.

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Grape varieties – Ezerjó

Hungary grows many standard international varieties, such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but there are also a myriad of local grape varieties commonly found in the Carpathian Basin.

Let’s start with Ezerjó for no particular reason, except that I’ve been tasting a few of them lately, including the excellent full-bodied Pontica Pince Móri Ezerjó 2012.

This is a grape variety that is widely planted within Hungary, but little known outside the country.

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Ezerjó has its place among historic Hungarian grape varieties, a true Hungaricum. It originates from the Nógrád and Hont counties, but has since spread throughout the country. It got its name from the Buda grapes, where it was once a popular variety

It has many other names, amongst others zátoki, korponai, budai fehér (Buda White), Korponai or Kolmreifler, and in Transylvania, it is known as fehér bakator (White Bakator).

Until 1884, it was widely cultivated in the Sopron wine district. Nowadays, it is more commonly found in the Kunság, Neszmély and in particular Mór wine districts.

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The Mór district is particularly well-known for its Móri Ezerjó. Indeed many people associate the variety closely with this area. Here it yields a light, crisp, refreshing easy-drinking wine.

In the north-west of the country, it can also produce lively dry whites for early consumption

It is a early-ripening, high yield variety, sensitive to frost and rot.

Its wine is high in alcohol, often with a slightly harsh taste, with pronounced acidity, pale green in colour, dry and relatively neutral in flavour.

It can also be used to produce sweet wines, in good vintages containing some botrytised grapes.

Literally translated, it means ‘a thousand boons’.