Sziklabor Feketeleányka – Balla Géza Winery
Dr. Géza Balla is an iconic figure in the Hungarian-Romanian wine scene, and his wines are very popular in Hungary. Balla is usually mentioned among the best winemakers of Hungary (he is an ethnic Hungarian), even though he produces wines just across the border, in Romania (in the Minis region). In 2018, he became the first non-Hungarian born winemaker to be named “winemaker of the year,” an important honor in Hungary. He is currently dean of the winemaking department of the Sapientia Transylvanian Hungarian University, and he is also a member of the Hungarian Wine Academy. Sziklabor translates as “stone wine,” and this is the highest quality level that the Balla Géza winery produces. The name is inspired by the vineyard—a very rocky and warm place, which is ideal for ripening the red varieties, such as this Feketeleanyka (called Feteasca neagra in Romania). This single-vineyard wine comes from the low-yielding Rokagodor plot. It was spontaneously fermented and aged in 225 liter oak barrels for one and a half years. It is a rich, complex, and age-worthy wine (15 percent alcohol). It has concentrated aromas of black fruits, currants, tobacco, and cocoa. Decanting this wine is encouraged.
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*Prices shown include Hungarian VAT (27%). Final prices are calculated based on the VAT of your shipping country.
The Minis (Ménes, in Hungarian) wine region is located in western Romania, just north of the town of Arad, which is a stone throw from the Hungarian border. Minis is the sub appellation of Romania’s larger Minis-Maderat wine region. The region holds seven villages, including the region’s namesake the village of Minis. Géza Balla’s 100+ hectare winery is located in this village, 20 kilometers northeast of Arad.
The climate is warm, and local ethnic-Hungarians (like Géza Balla), like to compare it to that of Villány in southern Hungary. The influence of the Adriatic can still be felt here, resulting in really hot summers and somewhat moderate winters. If you go a bit further north, Hungary’s continental climate will be dominant. Due to its warm climate, the majority of the grapes grown here are red. There are varieties that are also typical in Hungary—such as Kadarka, Kékfrankos, and Fekete Leányka—along with international grapes, like Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, and Merlot. For white grapes, the local queen is Királyleányka, but you’ll also see Furmint, Riesling, and Mustos Fehér. International white varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Yellow Muscat are also grown. The soil here is typically clay mixed with granite, diorite, and mud stone.
Winemaking in the larger region goes back to Roman times, but Hungary’s first king, Saint Stephen, already mentions the region’s vineyards in the early 1000s. In fact, Saint Stephen and his wife, Gizella, donated eight vines to the local abbey to express their enthusiasm for winemaking here. At the time, Catholic monasteries and other settlements were the stronghold of western civilization, and that included having good wine on the table and in the church.
Another historic connection to Hungary is the Kadarka Aszú, a local specialty. It’s a concentrated sweet red wine made from botrytized Kadarka berries, following the Tokaj Aszú vinification method. Shriveled, botritized berries are picked by hand, one by one, macerated in the base wine, and then aged in barrels for years.
The region is slowly coming back to life after the 20th century’s world wars and Communism. At the beginning of the 20th century, Minis had two signature wines—spicy dry Kadarka and sweet Kadarka—and was regarded as one of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s top wine regions. One of the campuses of the Royal Hungarian Wine Academy was based in this town, and at that time there were almost 7,000 hectares of vineyards. Now the number is down to less than 2,000 hectares. As always, Minis is still a multi-ethnic region, populated by Hungarians and Romanians.
|Country||1-3 bottles||4-6 bottles||7-12 bottles|
|Austria||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Belgium||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Bulgaria||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Croatia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Czech Republic||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Denmark||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Estonia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Finland||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|France||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Germany||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Greece (mainland)||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Hungary (outside of Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||4,500 HUF|
|Hungary (Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||Free delivery for orders over 20,000 HUF|
|Ireland||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Italy||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Latvia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Lithuania||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Luxembourg||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Netherlands||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Poland||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Portugal||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Romania||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Slovakia||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Slovenia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Spain||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Sweden||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|