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Hárslevelű – Kolonics Pincészet

The Somló region might be small but it produces, arguably, Hungary’s strongest terroir-driven wines. The region basically consists of a single hill, which is an extinct volcano. Millions of years ago, when the Pannonian sea covered today’s Hungary, Somló was an underwater volcano. The volcanic basalt soil remained, to the great benefit of winemakers. All of winemaker Károly Kolonics’ wines are made the same way. There is skin contact for between six and 12 hours before pressing, and the wine is fermented in old barrels with wild yeast. However, all of his wines taste very different from each other. But they are all classic textbook Somló-style wines, showing off the region’s strong volcanic soil. This Hárslevelű shows the variety’s classic white flower aromas, along with a strong minerality, high acidity, and medium body. If you have never tasted a volcanic wine from Somló, this is a perfect place to start.

4,990 Ft

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Somló is one of Hungary’s emblematic historical wine regions. Its unique, mineral-rich terroir, indigenous varieties and numerous small producers make it one of Hungary’s most exciting white-wine regions. Its wines have long been renowned thanks to their allegedly beneficial properties. They were sold in pharmacies to treat a variety of ailments, and their supposed ability to help conceive a male child gave them the nickname of ‘wedding night wine’.

Situated in northwestern Hungary to the north of the western reaches of Lake Balaton, Somló is one of the country’s smallest wine regions. One of the hill’s secret weapons is the black basalt bedrock which retains the heat of the day and radiates it back like a stove, keeping the vines warm on chillier days. The volcanic buttes are covered by sediment from the former Pannonian Sea (which once covered the area). Sand, gravel, and clay are mixed with basalt, basalt tuff, and calcareous tuff from the bedrock, which has been degraded into debris.

Most vineyard holdings in Somló are tiny, and many are owned by hobby winemakers. But the number of serious winemakers has grown considerably in recent years, and we are beginning to once again see why Somló wines were so famous historically.

Somló’s 507 hectares are dominated by white varieties, most notably Olaszrizling, Furmint, Juhfark, and Hárslevelű. Traditionally terroir had greater significance than the grape varieties, and Somló’s terroir is incredibly strong. The main attributes of a Somló wine are its characteristic salty minerality, high (often piercingly) acidity, and great age-worthiness. They are generally rather austere in their youth and need a few years to open, developing into complex wines with smoky, stony flavors, and sometimes a petrol-like intensity similar to Riesling. The wines are generally aged in large, old oak and often spend time on their lees, lending them a generous, creamy, full body.

Károly Kolonics’s family goes back several generations in the Somló area. He has a reverence to this terroir, which is evident in his textbook Somló style wines. They are rich, full-bodied, and waxy, perfectly reflecting Somló’s volcanic terroir with minerality, saltiness, and concentrated flavors. Kolonics grows Olaszrizling, Furmint, Juhfark, and Hárslevelű on 9 hectares of mostly in thick basalt crumble soil vineyards.

He is a traditional winemaker, and typically ferments his wines in oak, and then ages them for one to three years before bottling. He is serious about his unique aging methods. His wines are all named for the barrels in which they mature, so he can produce multiple versions of single varietal wines from the same vintage, each aged in a different oak or acacia barrel, resulting in different styles. A photograph of his great-grandfather, who emigrated to America before World War One, appears on all of his labels.

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